Sunday, April 29, 2012

Broken but Happy

I woke up at 2:30 from dreams it seems I've dreamed a thousand times. Feeding people I love - including Dan, who I haven't seen in over twenty years - vegetarian sushi. Can you really make it with roasted red pepper? Please promise me that we'll talk before we die I pleaded even as I knew there wasn't anything left to say. We can't be with our favorite teachers all the time. Some we see only briefly and, learning what was there to learn, move on.

Waking, I warmed coffee from the day before yesterday and carried it outside to drink. The dog rambled, owls hooted back and forth and I stood alone in the cold staring dizzily up at the resonant tendrils of the Milky Way. Very clear night, many shooting stars. Yet something seemed to stand between me and the sky, hindering true vision. I recall as a child gazing upward, hardly able to breathe with all the beauty and majesty but now the heavens are just another idea. Or so it seems. I hunkered by the ashes of yesterday's deadfall, felt the heat still rising. A rooster crowed and I thought as I always do, shut up you damn fool. The foxes are still out.

And later still came inside to pray and write, still feeling that veil - that wall, whatever we choose to call it - and wanted to plunge straight through it. We make our own obstacles and so can undo them at will but . . . well, who amongst us ever gets around to it? We slip into these habits and have a hard time seeing it's the habits that keep us broken. Well, broken but happy. Whatever else one feels in these before-dawn hours - making little poems, saying little prayers, accompanied only by a dog - one does indeed feel joy, one is indeed lifted.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Positive Influence Understood Positively

For one of the progenitors, it was a matter of getting started. The twenty sentences. And then it grew (for him) or at least it became a book. That's form, in a sense. But it's also a process, a way of writing, right? Starting. Yet for me it was never that - or it outgrew that - because starting was never really a challenge. Editing - rewriting - was. I mean going back. And then also - possibly related - the idea that one ought to say what they mean without dressing it up. In other words, I read Silliman et al really only as rebels. I defined them in opposition. Negatively. Probably unfairly. Yet that is what this project became - poetry inspired by a limit to its length. And then seeing that - and honestly being a bit bored by it - one asks: now what? Well, you keep going. Writing writing, as Stein said who - unlike the language poets - was always a positive influence, understood positively. Which strikes me at the moment as saying more about me as a reader than anybody else as a writer. But it's always that way I think.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Perfect Witnesses

What is a corpse but an echo?

Mist rising off the fire pond, the heron extending its wings.

It's a long drive home but what choice do we have.

It's not the town but the house or is not the house but the family?

You called and accordingly I was lifted so thanks.

Graceful half tones forever define the amends.

Now I forget.



Oh, you again.

Don't ignore Macbeth's final decision, the one to die on his shield.

Walking in darkness earlier a branch snapped off to my left and I started.


What I wouldn't give to not read old poems all night.

Sitting in that old bar - what was it called - the other place - and drinking gin and tonics with no lines to show for it.

Bad dreams make for good morning walks.

Dogs don't care which is why they are perfect witnesses.

"Time it was and what a time it was."

He said to the tulips grow up, won't you.

We're the best togetherness ever.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Limits of Politeness

And with that. She wrote about how offended she was, and how being offended made the writing itself difficult. Somehow the conversation turned to animal sacrifice as a rationale for vegetarianism. In the forest, one has funny ideas.

May we now reduce the twenty sentences? Are you out there/can you hear this? Some people prefer to hold their peace as if its expression were to somehow place it in jeopardy. It's not Christmas exactly but almost.

In a biblical, not an ecumenical, way. Service is intrinsic but do check your motives. One finds the blood root everywhere, doesn't one? Where the fawn was yesterday, today an indentation.

All your suggestions are belong to us! The stage flooded with bad actors and the audience was moved to the limits of politeness. Greens, avocado, frozen blueberry and voila! Nerves attend any change.

Truth is mightier than all your lies. A funny phrase - leap like a lizard - given the stodginess of most reptiles. Hunger will do you in. Sharing the metaphor.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Support For What We Are

A gray morning before the lilac blooms contemplating fog. You turn inward and discover waterfalls. A pair of mallards swoop low over the far pasture, then rise up and point towards the fire pond.

There are problems in the world but correction is possible. Tell yourself that. I don't feel like crying right now.

In other words, another way of writing. It's worth asking - it is always worth asking - what is our responsibility to the twenty sentences? One longs for reciprocity.

One repeats the other far too often. Remember that motel in Vermont, the sandwiches we ate while the sun set behind us? Familiar faces come out of the rain.

We are supported in what we do as an extension of the support for what we are. Which is mirror balls, yes? We ascended the stairs and discovered ourselves not in a library but a dream.

Drinking tea, studying the firewood, the tracks of chipmunks in last night's trace of snow. The three witches appeared in my dream, making testimony on behalf of Jesus difficult. Thus we wake, thus we go about our business.

Time passes which is all one can ever really say about it. Learn what the authentic expression is and then allow it out.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Not Even Sunday

Pizza dough rising, lukewarm tea, a music in which robins sing and it's not even Sunday! A gap between teeth in which pain exists. One comes to the essay in search of understanding, hence the need - almost imperceptible - for poetry. Or Bob Dylan in 1965. You see?

One wouldn't eliminate waterfalls, why eliminate thought? There is no such thing as banal chatter! Yet drunk sometimes I do wonder. You understand? Or I don't.

Or else. And other phrases one can't quite escape in which the self shamelessly asserts itself. Writing like this is fructive in a way that most writers have forgotten. I mean we never mean what we think we mean. The field was seen as a beautiful carpet until I remembered the horses buried beneath it.

How strange to be so familiar with the graves of horses. To leap from one stanza to the next under the guise of heeding the sentence. One glances in the direction of trust, then back down to the day old pastry on which a single black ant rests. You want rhyme? I love how you are always on time.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bodhisattvas I Have Known

A bee approaches the window, a birch leaf spins madly, testifying to the breeze. You can stand a long time seeing nothing and for what? Yet studying the sentences one learns that they are essentially repeating themselves and not in a good - a Gertrude Stein - way. Fructive silence is the best silence. Thus one remains unenlightened.

Think of all the Bodhisattvas I have known . . . Or, another way to think of it, all the walls I've chosen not to dissemble. Keep your hill, I'm partial to the cross at its summit. Lines on a page leading one where. To lilac at last?

The neighbor's chickens come over to scratch the dust near the fence. The movie got the execution scene wrong, as if to remind me that narrative and truth are often at odds. He wrote a poem during halftime. Later the pain came and then she spoke convincingly about our burgeoning need for healing. The students write when I ask them to write.

Say please please! Forgo vegetarianism. Be very discerning regarding the consumption of that which causes you conflict. Grumble grumble grumble. And yet you are always there and I feel you and it makes me glad.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Familiar Absence

The familiar anger begins in dreams. Bob Dylan's confidence, Kirk's trim calves when he returned from India changed. Are we awake yet? When later, out walking beneath - yes - familiar stars, one experienced the familiar absence masquerading as the self. Open some more maybe.

Where tangled hummocks are reminiscent of the devil . . . Farther along the trail than I thought I'd go, I remembered that yesterday I'd forgotten the twenty sentences. Noon is indeed the darkest time, as the road does narrow and the company becomes thin indeed. Deprivation then? Maybe you can't keep on keeping on.

What one means to say is, is it really better to reign in hell than to serve in Heaven? Thought is the only problem, opinion the real jailer. It's lighter earlier for what that's worth. In the distance, apple blossoms. And coming back, the year's first bear.

Thus I am aware and is that not enough? Must one always be jotting down these little notes to Jesus? Who is it behind the familiar constellation that smiles and whose smile is - despite our denial - a blessing? The truth asks nothing of you, that's how you know it's the truth. Help me Jesus, I'm still charting the middle ground, I'm still beholden to a charcoal map.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Chaotic Holler

Might we review our dreams? The dream? That night on the fire escape with brandy against the wind and professions of love that - twenty-five years later - are still clear, still absent an echo?

Or was it perhaps simply the conversation - once had - that made possible another, longer, conversation about what it means to face one's fears? Trace one's tears down an unfamiliar face? In the dream we prayed and the prayer was answered.

Yet inevitably one wakes up. Thus the moonlight bright on the night table. And later still stars and tea while the dog tears through far off bracken, rousting foxes who will - if alive - return to badger the hens.

You can't fool me, except when you do, albeit with my permission. I said a bad word. I had a bad day?

A sad day for horses and horse owners alike. Or we are simply peering up into what appears to be - and for all I know is - immeasurable darkness? Who wouldn't channel the chaotic holler?

Stop writing, I'm feeling you. Just-made yogurt dressing dripping down the side of the bowl and like that, you're lost. It's summer somewhere always.

And with that, this. Again, a kiss.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Never Replace the Essence

Wooly road socks. Cracked quartz. A list will never replace the essence. But may direct us? I can't wait for May!

But the fleas . . . A field in which years ago I noticed how tired the deer look in Spring. My life is not a loaded gun. Little gardens. Don't go.

Stay. Stay for the repetitious burial. Dystopia is a lack of faith, kind of. The secrets we keep from those we "love." I mean prayer of course.

I mean I'm scared, honestly. Liberation from this itchy skin now! One is not a different person when their feet are bare. That essence? That yes anyway.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Few Raindrops, A Cup of Coffee

One writes one does. Again. One insists on it. Is this it? What one writes?

Or perhaps what writing. That which witnesses briefly the sun. The neighbor's cow bellowing at dawn. Metaphors? Art anyway.

Of which one is a part. Apart? Who wants to know? The pond was roughly circular, the streams of mist shapeless. Keep going.

What is healing but the removal of that which obstructs knowing? A few raindrops, a cup of coffee. One walks that way. Listening? As on the trail this morning I helped you with your shoes and remembered again how to kneel.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Settling the Apparent Confusion

One watches sunlight flicker on the shallow pond and all afternoon reflects. Hell is other people - or maybe just Sartre. Put your glasses on and see if the text doesn't resurrect of its own accord. Old poems are the best. Defy - I mean deny - expectations.

As in, who amongst us hasn't been the dentist? Is that a way of saying you would like to write poetry about a kind praying mantis? Once upon a time I explored fearlessly but then I learned. Foxes, ravens and black bears with pumpkins. The world is indeed full of people who know what in the hell a red bird is.

Ever on the stage! The words swam on the page and then sank like stones intent on settling. The apparent confusion is ever in attendance yet there is always another turn just up ahead. Up the road, past the graveyard, all the way to where the road ends and then you keep going. The only hell I'm thinking of is whatever I'm thinking of right now.

Pigeons are angels in a city otherwise bereft of saints. Finally I understand what he meant when he sang mysterious ways. Take comfort my friend because all idiocy is obviated sooner or later. Often it feels like I want whatever is whatever after this. She watched sitcoms and gradually deciphered the central illusion.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Circling When and Where You Did

Emerging sensitivity. A way of working from the heart. Thank you, mallards, for circling where and when you did. Brittle like eggshells? A new gap, a helpful one.

A new space in which we are not so resistant. The physical world will always be real to the physical senses! What we are saying is, following Christ is not harder so much as different. One devotes a lifetime to exploring useful roles for interpretation. Bells.

Bells and profligate quartz. The fields, turned and seeded, are no longer open for walking. One crow follows another. Working with the heart? Well, healing anyway.

Sealing the deal with whiskey and warm tea. The watercolors ran "as was their wont." Pods released to the breeze blossom outside our knowing, on other hills, other swathes of grass. Thus beauty. Thus this, especially for you.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Closer This Time

We are all animators. Thus wild clouds move through the sky, thus the wake of a drenching rain. Half moon visible through sapling maples, as if raked by darkened claws. One senses the fox has passed, only closer this time, and oddly it yields a sense of safety. It is madness to assume when there is only that which can be known.

Is it possible there are no consequences? One rereads Romeo and Juliet, one wonders. As the sunlight acquires that particular slant, the mind turns to bluets. Pilgrim sensitivity is not contraindicated. I am not my password.

And yet. "I won't tell a soul" is hardly convincing but we have to accept it, don't we? That house in the dingle did not appear in my dreams which were otherwise complicated and fueled by my love of games. She was willing and it was enough. Thus the past tense, thus the need for healing.

Dual-wielding? One senses in crossword puzzles the secrets of the universe, much more so than in geometry. Please understand that whatever meaning or value you perceive "out there" you put there. We want to be subject to source - that is, cause - and not effect. Of course it is all a form of entertainment - how else would a kind God play it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Rarity This Far North

Seven finches, apparently unalarmed. Fifty years ago cardinals were a rarity this far North. We don't really know how to live and that is the essence of the problem. But again, one's attention must be directed internally. One pities crystals.

I feel sad and listless! In other words, it's not just words but also punctuation. Insist on seeing it. When at night you lay looking out a south-facing window, what do you see? Surprise me.

In the valley, the first dandelions, while in the hills, crows still fly in jagged lines West to East. She refused my invitation to attend the gallery opening and twenty years later it still hurt. Or am I just confused about happiness? A short sentence has no more virtue than a shorter one. We are keeping it simple, you see, and more, liking it.

As in the eradication of a horrible disease? Or an essay perhaps on the virtues of aspirin. She said later who knows where the goldfinch nests. It's true that I can be hard to please. You can't take the child out of the adult.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Driftwood Thing

What is order if it is not related to discipline? There are certain questions to which one arrives as a pilgrim arrives at a candlelit house, rain on her shoulders, and a different light in her eye. Is it possible there are no consequences? He talked a long time about how evil is only possible when choice enters in. We laughed over coffee and went home together because.

We are going to walk at dusk and allow the twilight to occupy us in what they used to call a holy way. Like nineteenth century cupolas. Someone you have not seen for a long time is sitting on the hill and the breeze moves her hair back and forth. The year's first dandelions. Helpfulness.

It is everywhere. Or this: there's nothing to do and only you can do it. I remember playing guitar in those days and never quite getting enough distance to really hear the notes and so eventually had to stop. Now you walk a long time in the forest and what does that do but beget yet more ideas? The challenge is always managing what appears to be exterior, no?

Ah, but somebody is always going to love you on terms only they set. It's a driftwood thing, right? As earlier I stumbled, caught myself on the bridge and laughed out loud despite the many strangers passing. What does it mean to believe in perfect happiness? The wait for a teacher is long indeed when you won't begin your studies.

Monday, April 9, 2012

One Can Be Psychologically Adept

Wind at 4 a.m. defines what. A fox in the far field, silver in scant moonlight. What fades and what does not. A lie? We are here and we are listening.

One stops to talk. Ravens settle on the fallen maple and give us hell for looking. Change is what doesn't happen, actually. A cold wind, one that eventually turned us back toward home. That and river sounds.

I mean, the tyranny of want. The body's needs multiply when we begin to intuit other energies. Keep it simple isn't bad advice. Stone steps designed to impress don't fail. One can be psychologically adept and still . . .

Still? What does it come back to then? Return is ever the defining theme. The fox turns to watch us or so we like to think. Morning, yet again.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What You Can't Fake

It is the same old meditation always. Or should I say, leather strip on which several cheap gems have been quickly pasted? The store smelled of cigar smoke and called to mind swampy vistas from which tendril mist rose. I hid a long time in that cornfield and for what? What you can't fake, you are allowed to call your own.

Only? The moon sank through heavy clouds, peepers bade it farewell. Whiskey steadies one for the necessary introspection. Introduction? Well, we went more down than we went down last time and did indeed sense a dim light reckoning.

One ascends the way that Dublin fiddler in 1989 played her scales - gracefully, attentively, with deep - with abiding - affection. Without typing? You can't escape your kidneys so why fret about the brain? Love in bowling alleys. Love in plays.

Love always? One is determined to be saved and so reads Macbeth and everything by Pinter. Yet the zafu gathers dust, your ribs ache from breathing slowly, and at night you dream of blood. So the days pass. So you lift the heavy veil only to find another.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Familiar Mask of Resistance

One way to think about it is to imagine how withdrawing energy from a system or institution undermines it and leaves one free to invest that energy elsewhere. As in, we sit down and have jasmine tea and agree to begin a Tuesday evening prayer group. What I am saying is that we have to get beyond not just Jesus but also Christ. The moon appears to float through the sky, doesn't it? Understand what calls, understand what answers.

Poor Isaac . . . Yet a grudge held just so yields as much or more evil as the event which gave rise to it. Behold the familiar mask of resistance! What I am saying is, pay attention to the requisite tenor. Double check everything.

And never sing? The cardinal moves in and out of view, unaware of how it blesses us. Lambs are not just symbolic - they are also living creatures one can liberate from victimhood. What I am saying is that love cannot see the differences inherent in form. Now we're unfolding the red paper heart!

Now we are extending the eternal invitation! One sees him everywhere and the effect is simply happiness and an abiding peace that is not of the ages. One knits, one chants and both compose a sutra. What comfort I draw from Gustav Landauer! Getting up, making a prayer, doing the work.

Friday, April 6, 2012

That Dickinsonian Slant

I spent the afternoon watching cowbirds at the feeder and remembering what R. said that time we were out looking for eagles: if there's ever just one bird left in the world it'll be that one. Pie is a winter affect offered mainly - somewhat oddly - in summer. We live in a small house and so accommodations often have to be made. Don't be ashamed of virtue! He wrote after a long time away from words and it showed.

Well, a few hours anyway. Later, drinking beer, I had that feeling of being outside myself and watching mannequins struggle to navigate reality. If you have to write, then write. You could tell it was no use talking. It's also no use collecting coral, at least not if you're from New England.

Strange rules breed stranger bedfellows. Noon terrifies me more than 4 a.m. ever could. Turrets blocked the moon where we hiked in France, reminiscent of certain kinds of love. Your stories are sad - have you considered poetry? Or pottery, it's all the same.

How open you were in conversation, as if we had been friendly a thousand years! Time is your project so use it to good effect. A blackberry aftertaste and a dream of steaming apples. The undertaker professed a lack of faith to which the minister replied well, we all have problems. Thus my habit of weeping whenever the light attains that Dickinsonian slant.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Inevitable Awe

Plenitude, grace. One can dream, or at least apprehend the inevitable awe. A door opens and you're left standing "in the floor." Is it possible that in the second inaugural address Lincoln changed tenses in error? I love you too!

Family cloth. A pattern is a mode of insistence, beautiful in a way that habits are not. Or not. One begins to sense that oblivion is the wrong word for a good - a truthful - idea. I mean in other words.

Beloved birds? Contrails drift east to west, testimony to mute winds large beyond our ken. Confronted, Frost's cynicism yields to the Emersonian ego. The lilacs show bright green, the goldfinches gather hay in the chicken yard. Your shed is my acceptable nursery.

Oh the misery! Mystery? Spiritual mastery. Well something must come next. And after a while you can see through anything.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mired in Holy Syllables

One begins and the beginning is the first sentence. Yet the first sentence is always very old, ancient even. And is not the same as an utterance. What does any of this have to do with God? Well, we are mired in holy syllables.

We are following a narrow path at noon when it is darkest. You aren't alone exactly but the felt presence is not perceived as a comfort. Be careful of the inclination to take sides, a natural consequence of seeing sides, which is actually the only problem you need to solve. Uh-huh. Tell me again where the eloquent go to die?

The sleep of the just or just sleep? The way that I say this - or that - matters. Your note left a tiny prick of sadness, through which a light poured like sand. At three a.m., worked on by angels, one discerns a buzzing and understands that death is the end one way, but the only way most of us know, which vexes. Are you laughing with me yet?

It does pass. One begins and the beginning is soon cocooned in time. Your river is my bright manger. Give me your hand then. Let's walk, you and I, in the only direction in we know.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Realm of the Possible

A list of that which I am done talking about would not include poetry but still be long indeed. Who needs a compass when you have eyes? Our sinlessness is assured by God, who cannot create unlike God. You see?

Your letters did not persuade anyone but it hardly mattered as they came general delivery from a country which prohibited extradition. One does explore the realm of the possible. Another begins at the beginning and so learns something valuable. Working in the past tense is desirable if you want a sense of control over the sentences.

Or not. Devoid of cloth, a clothes hanger is skeletal. She walked through the forest to avoid being seen. Chickens moved their claws through the dust, not reflecting on the nature of death.

We leap off the bridge and land laughing, surrounded by cold water that moves quickly, like dogs tracking bear in late Spring. Bones rise, much the way old glass does, both where our ancestors once dumped their trash. You have these dreams and what else can I say? Mistakes were made as always.

Oh but there's a tear that opens our heart, isn't there? Grace is knowing that wherever you are you can awaken there. Precisely? All day you were here and then - two syllables lightly uttered - and you're gone.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Our Desire for Solutions

Following a day-long meditation on defenselessness come dreams of violence, portending what? Maple buds the color of blood float along the brook. Time passes, or it seems to, and that is all one needs to know about it. Later still, prayer. The dog pisses where I piss, for reasons I can't explain.

On the trail, one longs to find her teacher. Quartz erupts, sparkling with dew on one side, terra-dark on the other. Stop and ask questions. That is what the wise teach: begin with what you are. Also, avoid the habit of collecting what is attractive.

It works, or it seems to. In my dream, I recognized my attacks on the blind man as having a dual nature, that is, as symbolic. Leaving the trail is a different kind of learning. Sunlight through the remainder of last night's rain offers light, the same prismatic effect as looking at the sun through clear quartz. The student comes to understand fragmentation in that way and then what?

I am waiting for you, as you surely know. The woman at the well essentially said "so what?" You move in the direction of peace and thus render peace impossible. This writing is the only writing I will do today. It is hard to remember that the only real problem we have is our desire for solutions.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Inclination to Order

Defenselessness must have a home, which is to say it must be welcomed. Bob Dylan records, cheap red wine, my poetry books stacked in the corner, falling over on one another like Corinthian columns after a sand storm. What is the match, what is the candle. And: You are always on my mind.

Exploitation is inherent in all systems, because they are all of the brain. Doctors consistently own a natural curiosity which they are - somewhat less consistently - unable to attend. It has to do with order or the inclination to order. Also with how Jesus approached meals, perhaps the most revolutionary of his many revolutionary stances.

Hush. The cardinal hesitates on the lilac, his black eye just visible through the tangled new blooms. We welcome the rain as we welcome sadness. Bodies break, there is no other way to say it.

Oh but you are forever in my thoughts, somewhat like food. The neighbors go on behind untouchable veils and we watch them sadly, unable to help. "Intent and intense," the very words. This is the real writing.

But then one hesitates. One sees that passivity is not natural but habitual and so a question at last emerges. Metaphors are helpful and it's no good forgetting that. Be the four walls!