Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Neither Church Nor Ritual But After

And so at last I find my knees, as one dark morning I would have to. Moon a smear of light behind unmoving rain clouds, the dog rustling where recently a skunk passed. We incline to declarations and we long for secret letters yet happiness is hardly so contingent.

Thus this, again. The sentences toppling from caves like unpolished crystals into whatever hands receive them. What is interior has no dimensions and welcomes us accordingly.

Certain women are easier to write for than others. Sacred is neither church nor ritual but after, walking with you, and learning together the names of trees without worrying what comes next. Like that but different.

There is a little brook I pass, the bridge across it unsteady and old. Crab apples rot in the tall grass, picked at by crows and jittery deer. How tired I am of longing and yet . . .

She opens and the familiar light shines and so I open too. We have to do something with them, sentences and bodies. As the sea is never silent, not to one who knows how to listen and when.

Thus I await your signal, nearly at the end of my long affair with signs. A little dust rises where I kneel to pray, muttering about mountains and starlight and soft petals not quite hidden. Spirals please me, folds please me, and prisms please me too.

You are that light a little while yet. And this is for you, to accept on terms of your choosing, offered at last without thought of reward.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Inclination of Ash to Rise

I walked quickly this morning, head down, cold hands in pockets. Sunlight flashed on the little brook. Bridges are good but only in the sense they facilitate travel. One admires the inclination of ash to rise and infers accordingly that death is no big deal. Or something like that.

The dog's hackles were up the whole walk, odd given that the only trail signs were of a moose walking north. A bear still gorging before its winter rest? Ice lined the pond's edge and for the first morning in seven there were no geese floating on its glassy surface. Well, we are all in motion.

It's odd how I long to possess time and resent intrusions upon it. One learns that the present moment is all there is and then recalls the lesson over and over, thus obviating it. Still, beneficence is everywhere. I have long imagined stars as pinpricks in a vast black fabric, signalling a greater - a blinding - light beyond. Remind me sometime to talk to you about prisms.

Sunlight was a red bruise east coming home. One goes deeper into their greed and begins to sense it has no bottom and then what? There are many "yous" but only one "I." Is that right? We find an interior waystation and linger, see who else shows up, and make a party of it, hiding as always in language.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Darkness and Space and Pending Realization

There are no replacements for God. The waning quarter moon fades while drifting through the interstice of October maples. Frost glitters on fallen leaves though you have to kneel to see. One has a sense of darkness and space and pending realization.

There are no codes to unravel. In the morning I walk shivering, looking down, and later write, unsure why. An old sweat shirt on the bed, unusable reading glasses behind the clock. We want to be reliable but for who?

And why? The tea grows cold while I wait for the dog to come back and my stomach rebels accordingly. For the first time I am frightened of winter! One's appetite for fiction subsides and in its place is a longing for the simplicity and clarity that only honesty can bring.

I waited up for hours but nobody called or visited. I remember afternoons in Burlington Vermont, sitting at the window, watching the lake change colors, idly picking my way through unfamiliar chords. Churches come and go but prayer endures regardless. Hours in the kitchen are a kind of love, albeit not the one we are after, but still.

My father's walking stick rests in a corner by the door, a single thread of cobweb dangling. In the end, sex is just a prelude to being held both gently and carefully, enabling at last a sacred rest. It is no longer sufficient to know the way or point others in its direction. I linger over the sentences, set them as best I can, and move on as we all must, sooner than later.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Secret Letters, Impossible Promises

Coydog madness one hill away keeps my own dog close. Clouds float in to cover the half moon, swift as some tides. At last greed sheds the mask of desire. In a sense, we always face the sea.

One lingers before images only to learn they are gazing into a mirror. Forest trails beckon before dawn precisely a moist darkness. All the fallen leaves whisper as I pass. Behind its gossamer cover, the moon whispers too, about want and holiness and how it's the same moon that shined on Jesus.

Or you can see it that way if you want. Which one does when given to the religion of wordiness and sex an expression of elegant gentleness. The sound your shirt makes falling to the floor, my breath quickening, and the Holy Spirit moving in us as we move in one another. When we do face the sea, it faces us as well.

There are churches everywhere, little chapels made of birch trees and rivers, smooth stones and shells on glistening sand, secret letters, impossible promises. Desire pretends we are all pilgrims, each kiss begetting each soft cry a hymn unto our mutual Oneness. Greed masquerades as a penitent to enter. And yet . . .

In my dream you follow me along a river. Beyond crowds, in a center of green fronds and ocherous blossoms, under starlit skies in which the smoke of the one fire dissipates, we open as only our two bodies can. What is Christ decries judgment and renders all our urgent fumbling a gift. We come together into the Kingdom, we learn that we never left.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Each Tear

Sky the color of a well-oiled gun barrel. Geese pass in ragged Vs singing.

At 4 a.m. the moon clarified like an ancient script on papyrus. Frost grew flowerish on fallen leaves. What am I that insists on specification?

Yesterday's apples are today's cider and today's cider makes everyone smile. Who longs for allies remains friendless.

The willow tree near the air strip slowly extends the range of its tears. Mallards sleep lightly in brittle reeds. I pass quietly, still a threat.

It is hunger that mandates the idea of feasts. We linger over definitions as if playing at solutions matters more than finding one that works.

Your hand in mine remains one objective. Others find shells near the ocean. That particular hell and no other.

The mail often smells of lavender. A poem is neither lantern nor map.

We fall weeping and each tear is a kind of repetition. A prism separates what is light into what we call beautiful. I mean you reading, me writing.

Friday, October 25, 2013

From One Idealization to Another

One wakes to moonlight. And later walks through it, thin and feathery, like a cloud. When I write, another intelligence attends. My life is what happens, like a leaf falling in Autumn, or a skunk on the trail.

Some mornings the words are not there and you have to go looking for them. The dog curls up next to me on the couch. The houses of the poor are often cold. I move from one idealization to another, only slowly recognizing they are all the same.

Though I don't understand what this means exactly, I know that who professes to want peace does not want peace. What did M. say about leaving Heaven each time we open our mouths? I can't remember what to include and what to leave out. I don't want to be wanted - does that make sense?

And so the hours pass. I rise early for no particular reason and walk for a while and write for a while and sort of drift for a while, too. How little is required of us! And yet we persist in our quest for advantage.

The thing about desire is it's a third party and it wants something, too. In this body, this time, honesty is all I've got. I shivered walking despite a warm jacket and thought for the first time I am not ready for winter. How scared I am of mistakes, of being told to come back and do it all again.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Becoming Unreliable

My neighbor D. is burning summer deadfall: maple branches and leaves, stalks of sunflower, pine needles from where his backyard reaches mine and (don't tell the town) a little bit of trash too. I head over to talk after hanging the laundry a couple hours later than I was supposed to (there were poems needed writing). He pours me a whiskey (Black Label) and returns to leaning on his hoe and studying flames. The sun is bright - and still enough foliage on the maples to call beautiful - but clouds are gathering like rats on corn and so the light dims and fades, eventually becoming unreliable like every other goddamned thing in this vale of tears. Yet I love the smell of smoke in autumn - it wakens something coiled deep in the brain, a memory of simplicity and comfort and - oddly - anticipation. Or is that maybe the whiskey talking? Well, something is talking, just now about cooking meat over open fires - a man's subject in my neck of the woods, which I can tell you from experience will cut itself off pretty damn fast if you happen to mention the state of your sourdough starter. It's okay. The traffic hums by a hundred away from us, everybody going somewhere and nobody getting anywhere as usual, though a couple of young redtails circling overhead serve at least a little hope the world isn't all broken. Speaking of which, my heart is broken though to be honest with you, I can't remember a time when it wasn't. Mostly, I think I'm getting tired of not being honest. I like to bake bread and don't want to keep pretending it's a poor second to venison or beef heart. And there is a woman who is not my wife for whom I want to bake. Whiskey makes you think things are possible which you keep trying to decide are not. I don't want some things to end even as I seem bent on beginning their replacements. My father always said I was a damn fool and I'm starting to see how he's maybe right. How hard is it to send her a letter that says, "hey sweetheart, want to go pick some apples and maybe do a little kissing after over cider?" Pretty goddamn hard, judging from much I think it without ever quite getting to do it. A third hawk shows up, triangulating with the others our pale gray swathe of New England sky. Watching it, I forget to turn as the wind blows and so my eyes fill with smoke and I cough and hack so hard the whiskey sloshes out of the juice glass D. poured it in, and when my eyes finally clear, and I can manage a restorative swallow, he says, "you know, you look like a man just saw a ghost," and I think - but don't say - "I am a man who is afraid he has become a ghost."

What Is Enough


Monday, October 21, 2013

The Only Form I Can Bear

I sift quietly the afternoon alone. Rain comes in from the west. The last tomatoes from the garden sliced and salted to be laid aside fish. How sad I am, and have been, and yet how grateful. My teachers have been good ones, often unintentionally.

Two days ago driving over the mountain I remembered an old poem of hers and wanted to stop, pull over, call her, and say "my God, you have to read Lorine Niedecker." I did pull over, but I've long since forgotten her number, and it's past that time where you call someone to say, I was thinking of you . . . Later, reading Niedecker myself thought, well, she'll find her soon enough. If she's meant to. And anyway, I'm happier now . . .

Though for the past couple of weeks my stomach has ached the way it used to years ago when the doctors were predicting my imminent death. And I can't sleep for shit. Even now I sit on the couch, writing patiently in the only form I can bear at the moment, with a sense my body is going to simply crumple into itself, like the leaves with which I am so enamored of late. Oh well. I'm in the thick of what I wanted and there's no going back.

It's true that love isn't personal in the truest sense, but for most of us that's just intellectual pap. Pretending we're beyond it spiritually is just another way of keeping God at a distance. Our hearts quicken when touched a certain way. Why fight it? Longing is not a crime and kisses aren't either.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blessed As Always

My hands freeze a little hanging laundry. The chickens are bunched together in patches of sunlight. Cup after cup of tea. The light cold and hard as a star reflected in quartz. The trail fades where it turns north and we are left in forest, studied by foxes.

We dwell mostly in conceptualized reality - a replacement built to obscure life. It is a way of thinking - a habit of thinking - and thinking can neither end nor - really - make contact with it. All problems are resolved in an instant or they are not solved at all! Moonlight makes the sky and we make the moon? Better in the end to just avoid words.

I return to this project chastened but intrigued. Can writing lead one through writing that has become needful to the point of claustrophobia? At its best it's not personal but reflective. Yet longing entered in a special way and the sense of space was diminished accordingly. I want you to be happy, too.

I write happily, blessed as always to not make too much of it. There are other projects, even other others if one wants to see it that way. In my dreams I recoiled in horror, lost in an old house in which an even older woman only wanted to be seen. Love has always frightened me, what little I have known of it. Endings are sad but life goes on, even this one.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Where the Trail Turns Suddenly

Do you know what I long for most? A sign. Not a star falling in the western sky, trailing smoke like the ash of a thousand letters. Not a black bear where the trail turns suddenly.

Simply a word. Like "quartz." Or "Ashtabula." Any word from a dream in which one needed no ladder to reach the stars.

Nobody reads this poem but it's possible she does. Nobody knows what I look for in the deadfall, muttering to myself the deeper I get. My faith is that the sentences matter because one day I will get them just right and remember the Love of God. "Candle" perhaps, or "fake snow falling in a candle shop," or "out-of-the-way craft fairs in Vermont peddling blown glass to lovers who can't let go the other's hand long enough to hold a beautiful Christmas ornament."

The water of the lakes beside Wisconsin pushes softly over the shore. Summer's lady bugs disappear as winter lengthens its hand-sewn sleeves. I am scared if I write a note it will only be set aside now, which will mean I am set aside, and my sentences barred from grace. Like Chopin I always compose in a state of near desperation.

Until her too-brief tenure, I never believed in forgiveness. Nor saw with such clarity its capacity to heal. How frightened I am of your hands and voice! Yet still dream - sadly, stubbornly - of a small fire for the two of us, against which no darkness or cold can stand.

Given to Words

I fell to sleep remembering the grape arbor where we buried calves, the dark blue shadows, and how light seemed not to enter. Gardens are happy places, as are open fields, as are trails through the forest. One longs to follow moose and so does but always ends up at that place where they cannot follow any longer because to do so would be to become a moose and so turns back. We are not our lovers, nor what we read.

The dirt road roughly tracked the brook where for years I fished alone, telling myself stories, fertilizing imagination. Do you remember the photographs I mailed you? A certain sorrow attends all that one does, and at last one begins to see that it is negotiable, perhaps necessarily so. A world view is not the world yet we think it is and that is the whole problem.

In a way, all correspondence is public (says the man for whom all secrets are in writing). Most of the trees to which I pay attention are now bare and have turned to face north. The moon's favorite instrument is a mandolin, possibly a fiddle. Also, as I told A. and N. yesterday, one of the laws by which I live is "be sure you have a dog."

The morning given to words and chores. Two hours in a lawyer's office only to learn again that dying is the easy part. Roads do go hither and yon in such a way that eventually you learn all that matters is you walk one. Winter is for putting up wood, harvesting sap, icy clarity and life-changing syllables from strangers.

The water bearer's arms have been empty a long time. Who bends toward service teaches, regardless of what we call it after. In late fall, I can at last sleep beneath piled blankets, a joy left over from childhood. And you, always you.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Softer Than Leaves Falling

All I want is to be helpful.

But longing confuses the way.

Why call it longing when it is really lust?

Why write "the country of her sighs" when we mean to write moans?

I know that she needs me but I don't know what that means nor whether I can manage it.

Snow falling is a rarer comfort.

How vulnerable must we be in prose and to what end?

When I walk each morning I think of her.

When I write each day I think of her.

But I perceive her only through the dense web of my own needs and wants, my own lenses of desire.

I wish that were different but wishing does not make it so.

When I will to see her differently then the need to go to her becomes so strong it is as if I do not have a body or that the one I do have can be blown this way and that by the faintest wind.

I am scared of what the miles will say to me when I travel.

I am scared that when I arrive she will not open but only want to talk about ghazals and Rumi and A Course in Miracles.

Why is it I am unable to trust any but the most public communication modes?

I wish I could write her a letter in the swirling water of the river to which I wander every day, each word dissolving as soon as it is written, its frail intent carried out to sea.

How tired I am . . .

How long have I wished to sleep beside her - not the stolen sleep of the guilty - but the deep rest of the safely loved?

In my mind when I enter her I cry, I bite back tears, and we move in each other so gently, softer than leaves falling fall into the grass.

In a certain light it is all possible and then one shifts - a little - and no, it is not and never was.

A Reflection of Our Will to Obscure

It rains. Clouds cover the moon, leaving just enough light to stumble happily into the old pasture. Who is not here is somewhere else. But it's enough.

And the pine trees do nothing yet I love them. I stop by the ones I planted twenty-five years ago and wish they could talk. A skunk hefts its tail and flares in the bare light. In the distance, howls.

One rises from little or no sleep and can't untangle desire's many objectives. One word in the right ear can change a life. In the garden, ridden now with weeds, a few Begonias remain, the color of moonlight, the color of a mouse's ear. In those days whiskey made many things possible, while rendering others beyond even dreams.

Are you reading this still? My knees are muddy from all the praying I do in the forest. Pileated woodpeckers that swoop away, deer that watch nervously from a hundred yards off. It's for you, which is not enough, nor all I have to give, which is why you left so gracefully.

Some trails are easy to follow, others not so much. We glorify what appears hard or mysterious or distant, yet it's merely a reflection of our will to obscure what is Love. Who knows this waits patiently on my song. I squander words in the rainy dark, nearly out of time.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

In the Darkness Flaring

Morning grows wise without me. Yellow birch leaves here, brown poplar leaves there. The trail turns and I follow it with my dog, as I have since I was young, and it is enough.

One turns to Jesus in a difficult time and is rewarded. Turtles push deeper into the mud and close their eyes. Frost decorates the prints of deer, as if somebody had scattered marzipan stars.

She kisses my throat hungrily, the dog steps off to the floor to wait. How lovely our bodies are in the darkness, flaring and joining like moths. A ghazal is another way of saying the same thing: I am separated from God and want somebody else to fix it.

Thus this. Thus the breeze that pushes each red leaf of the front yard maple into the sunlight where it spins and drifts to the uncut grass. I sip tea and write as I have done almost every morning now for thirty years.

The sentences, too, would replace God yet - paradoxically - also suggest a way back to divine wholeness. Her voice is sweet but I am not a butterfly driven to any flower. Often I leave the trail and wander for hours alone, making sense of things the way bears do, or wolves.

All psychological problems are solved in an instant or they are not solved! My foot brushed a mushroom which leaned on its side. Remember: solitude and loneliness are not synonymous.

We come quietly - gratefully - holding each other. Redeemed - briefly - by mutual tenderness.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Heart Wants To Climb

After midnight, sleepless for the thousandth night, I take the dog walking. The waxing gibbous moon sinks beyond tendril clouds. The sound of leaves falling seems to require something but I forget what. It was always this way.

But was it? These forest trails don't really remember me: I remember them. The man without shoes could walk anywhere. How many women must I make crawl across cut glass just to hear a kind word?

Well, we are who we are. We make contact with what is eternal and are correspondingly gratified. A few stars, a breeze in the pine trees. All of this has been offered up and yet here I am still, walking through it, as if I really don't want Jesus, really don't care for love.

Only once have I mentioned her name here, and quickly took it back. We are all scared of something. A taste of Heaven recalled in the body is not Heaven, merely a hint of the memory of Heaven. Don't get hung up on improvements, just look for the gate you hid a long time ago.

The dog comes in later and I sit up in bed writing. My heart wants to climb out of my chest. Well, one day it will. In the meantime, this.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Back and Forth in the Ruins

Walking again in old clothes, October wind nestled inside my ratty shirt. Moonlight follows me in spirals and cones, whispers and streams. I carry with me a memory of horses. I carry with me a sea.

The lumber out back shifts as winter gathers. I understand less and less as time passes. The words spill behind me like handfuls of white stones marking a trail. In my dreams, a swan offers me her back, and I sit instead on the shore and watch her glide away.

I cannot put back together what was broken and so wonder back and forth in the ruins, pleading with Jesus for help or at least a map. At times our voices ascend in a single harmonious note and other times, no. I am faithful to the call heard so long ago, the one about writing writing, and my God my God, what a price I have paid. Or so it seems.

The church mouse hums gathering stale crumbs. How rarely the words falter and yet here I am, faltering amongst them. The dog returns from the lower field panting, and I remember older dogs, and something else too that I am not allowed to say. You knew something I didn't but you didn't know how to share it which was I kept trying to leave and finally - albeit roughly - did. Poetry will help you, and reading more, and more carefully.

The mossy roots of slow-toppling maple trees tap an ancient desire I choose not to render in sentences. A gorgeous home awaits us all. I come back cold and tired near midnight, no closer to the Lord, but no worse for it either. Your pale imitation - the one you spend so much time writing about - satisfies nobody.

I Begin Again the Old Prayer

Before the sun rises I take my coffee outside and sit in the darkness listening to leaves fall.

There is no silence like that, not yet that I have known.

And yes, I wish that you were here.

Does not the profession of love obligate forgiveness?

And if forgiveness is less than total, it is not forgiveness but a sort of qualified hate?

Who stumbles toward God pauses now.

Your hand is the one I want.

In the distance, deer step delicately through the bracken, leaving the pond.

The heron rises from her nest in the high limbs of the pine tree.

And the geese mutter and rustle their wings for the long flight south.

Like you they are averse to winter.

Like me they only settle in darkness, afraid of any body coming closer.

I begin again the slow ascent of the hill you are.

I begin again the old prayer.

Blessed by your kindness - which brooks no refusal - I open my shirt to show yet another scar.

The darkness opens and refuses no light.

You who count daisy petals are loved.

Who you love is loved.

I begin again the slow ascent to forgiveness in the Kingdom of God.

Shame and sorrow urge me to hide but I offer again my damaged hands and wordy heart to the one who knows better than I the way home.

Monday, October 14, 2013

What Rough Angel Sent Me

One ascends gently. Ash falls. A single red feather fattens on the cliff. The bland lake of interior discourse.

Who no longer reads me bleeds me in dreams. What rough angel sent me toppling into the nether? We wither on vines of our own making. I cannot - cannot - undo the dream of kisses.

Well, stories. Makeshift apologies that run down by the garage. Stalkers abound. In the morning, walking, I shiver because I never wear the right coat.

The old blight passes by. Poems sift upward. I consider again the virtues of lying. If when I open the mailbox you are not there smiling I will wilt, I will die. Like that.

Like fat congeals on the onion soup. One never talks anything through. The needle falls to the floor and the widow gives up ever sewing again. You stone in my shoe, you fault line.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Untangled From Matter

Four a.m. holds me in its arms. A skunk - a white blur in darkness - picks slowly through underbrush, unconcerned about me. The house smells of apple. We are all in motion.

Why when I think of you is it always with such sadness? We are not bred to any condition. As light obeys its laws, love obeys its laws? One grows tired trying to reason through it all.

Money is the root of nothing yet it can certainly be a most pernicious branch. Avoid photographs of yourself praying. In my dream I was jailed, or at least ran the risk of it. Illusion equals incarceration?

Hold this for me, won't you? Up the road is another body that yearns to be untangled from matter. The scientist runs the same risk of fundamentalism as any Christian does. I like some movies, others not so much.

And breathe. And accept responsibility for dancing. No stars beneath slow-moving rain clouds. How tired I am, writing this.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The God I Consistently Crucify

If you gaze east while I gaze west where do our eyes meet?

If I think of you where the trail turns, does it turn for you as well?

If I sip this cup of tea with my eyes closed, picturing your shoulder, does the blanket slip from your shoulder as you sleep?

How many others must we pass through before resting at last in one another?

How many more lifetimes?

Stories come and go.

Even the stars come and go.

You were here before the hills, here before the sun setting beyond the hills, and here before I began writing prayers in secret rooms for the God I consistently crucify.

The moon comes and goes.

The dog goes out into the woods without me and I walk slower until she returns.

Daughter of wolves, woman of light.

How I long to kneel before you, to worship yes, but also to lean in to where you are softest, most secret.

A fool brings emptiness to emptiness.

A fool sits all day writing captions for photographs nobody ever sent him.

And this and that.

If in your mind you see a daisy do all the daisies of the world brighten the tiniest bit?

Does the highway beg to be traveled?

The hotel to be left behind?

What new home beckons where my heart trembles so frightened to go, so scared of what it fears it must give up?

Oh you, you beautiful you, you river of all my days.

One Considers the Stars

No moon. One considers the stars as children. One reduces awakening to a metaphor. The dog waits atop a hill. She does not speak.

Fear wears heavy boots. Trailing my hand through fallen leaves the familiar smell arises. One pictures her in a hotel, asleep, enchanted with what she can only manage alone. And yet. I slip easily into writing, perhaps too easily.

We are always sorting something, or so it seems. Clarity beckons in the same way a hotel does after a long day's drive. In another life, it is guitars that save me. Cement blocks around which the grass grows thick and tall. What do we want?

And so the flowers fall over in the garden. Quartz sings its muddy song a stone's throw from the brook. It is and that's enough. We like seeing what we have to say, as if that confirms the "later lovely blooming." Now this, again.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

An Excuse for Love

There are doors through which we all must pass. The tea kettle strains against the raging water inside it. Faith in music gets you nowhere.

One wakes and takes stock. Always ask: who is not here who should be. Peach compote on pancakes and then a long walk through sodden woods to the brook.

How it hurts, your absence. No silence is complete without her. Yet there is always another hand, or so it seems, this side of Heaven.

One studies the maps for a hint as to intent. Leans toward spells. In my dream, I nearly drove into a lake but stopped, and appreciated with new intensity, my coffee mug.

Patterns are shiny objects. Any four leaf clover will float for a while when set on water. It's cold in the morning and your presence matters differently.

He wrote after a long walk, as always, not in search of what to say. Belief in what, is the question? I have been writing poems since I was six years old - and talking to God, too - and it is getting tiresome.

On the other hand, what is a life but an excuse for Love to assume yet another form? You won't take this but it is for you, as all my poor efforts have been, since I first started to stumble down this trail.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Perforating Darkness Without You

How slowly I walk in October. This October.

How soft the brook sounds, like leaves falling, a murmur.

Just because a certain wilderness is familiar does not mean I want to walk through it. How many nights must I gaze up at the Big Dipper - its vast ladle, perforating darkness - without you?

In the morning I make coffee. In the morning I write.

A falling star just shy of the old homestead. Scent of apples. Hay bales. Would you hand fit in mine?

I cannot bear tenderness.

And the night winds go out farther than before and come back. The bear grows sluggish, the space between its thoughts like a liquid.

The welter of women no longer confusing, just one sign of loneliness, one sign of willingness. I read carefully what you write. I am sad to see you go.

The sentences float like dandelion seeds, from God to God. I can say that now. As open as the pine cones whistling down from the sky.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What So Long Went Closed and Broken

In October I walk slowly. The dog stops often and peers ahead. We listen to leaves falling, acorns bouncing off emerging quartz. One goes without love a long time and when faced with it is confused.

Invisible breezes. One moves slower along the rafters of language to find certain words. J. brought me a whiskey which I sipped at midnight, silver clouds sailing back and forth below the stars. Sleep does not come, not at all.

And yet a few hours later he stumbles outside and wanders a few miles of old pasture. There are names I will yet utter. A broken heart appeases nobody because liabilities never do. If only we could turn back the clock.

If only we turn darn our tattered socks. Between spruce branches the yellow leaves of the birch tree. Between desire and what names desire a little harmonious river. She slipped beneath the blankets quickly and we did not speak for there was nothing in that moment to say.

The motel stares bleakly out at the highway. Wine bottles crusted with blood roll around the dumpster. The mode matters but not so much as just choosing one and getting on with it. Not the heart - not even Christ - but simply the opening of what so long went closed and broken.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Like A Lonesome Motel

My lesson is not about letting go but rather holding on. Or so it seems at just before 5 a.m., this side of a rainy walk. Fog makes all light more luminous. Where are you? How my perception enlarges when you are its focus . . .

Or so I write, being bound by the laws of art to seduction. She writes about a new season and a small smile creases my lips. Rarely do I give attention where it is needed. We are encrusted and set in our ways long before we age.

Is change possible and if so then in the field of change, what does not change? My letters to you change. The breadth of affection, never. The highway beckons and like a lonesome motel I go to it.

Do not stop giving form to that which will one day go without. Express what is learned, that others may follow. I urge you to share the loveliness of your shoulders. I urge you to restore the red-winged blackbird to its rightful home in the cosmos.

Winter is coming. Who goes without their beloved goes cold. A thousand daisies forge bravely onward into the dream of no-Spring. I am here, as always, folding and unfolding in the nameless dark.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What the Mind Deems Illicit

A night of rain such that one awakens at 6:30 to a kind of darkness. There is so much to do it seems - or at least a choice to make - the perception of which is a burden.

If we censored nothing, then what? Photographs arrive and one studies them a long time in the welter of desire. It is seasonal perhaps, or obligatory.

Water boils for tea (for her) and coffee perks (for him) and the house is quiet a little while longer. The first touch is sweetest but rarely satisfying. Thus praise, thus this.

One accepts a band of sorrow. It is a kind of arrogance to say one's sentences rarely mean what others think they mean. A belt that is heavy, that weighs you down as you cross a dark plains.

Behind the clouds, the sun, and behind the sun more space which means more stories. Awakening is a question of letting go, mostly, hence its difficulty. Ghazals now.

Ceramic vats of sauerkraut on the counter. Service extends even to what the mind deems illicit. I have begun to root for the front yard zinnias, stubbornly insisting on red.

On blood? Across many miles she shows so much and no more and one wonders, one does.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Northern Forests

A love letter remains a favorite mode and yet it foregrounds the body, the dissolution of which is apparently home to this life's salvation. And yet. Somewhere beside a lake you study the small rocks and think of my cairn. I am always writing, always in love.

Yet sex merely replaces the finer - the ineffable - Love upon which we are all (ostensibly) bent. Sunflowers stagger through the night only to end up in the same garden where they began. A wasp does not study winter. Yesterday I nearly called and who knows what today will ask of me, chirpy fool that I am.

Does a horse know better than you God's will? Mist rolls in gently from the northern forests. The world exists in a rain drop in a dream in a mind in denial. And all the answers can be found in a grasshopper's eye.

My favorite kisses have all been outside, mostly in the presence of birch trees. Yesterday we picked sixty pounds of apples while it rained. My father is dying slowly and I am scared, so scared. Greed sits in its slivered chamber blowing on its cold thin fingers.

My eyes were made that I might see your bare shoulder. My toes were made to remind me I am human. This sentence goes unread. The heart does not break but rather stops and so now what?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Where the Wind Goes to Die

A moth follows me inside. Shuttered darkness. What leaped away in darkness earlier was heavy and inelegant. The way you don't read me is a desert and I go deeper every day.

There are words I am not allowed to say, as there are stories I am not allowed to tell. Cattail stand at the far edge of the field. Stars seen through dim clouds. We are always pressed for time, always.

Perhaps this time I will send you a letter. Ask what God requires. The sentences trail off and in the distance a siren begins. We are unknowable in the end.

Thus marriage, thus this. Drinking coffee I think of calling you. Words slip like figs from my throat. Accusations rest in the corner like boys with swords.

Would you if I asked? We make promises and they are wind, they are where the wind goes to die. She can bear silence better than he thought. Weeping insects ascend through maple ladders.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Last Petal of the Last Daisy Falls Softly

In Heaven no one will ask are they deserved or not. Falling to sleep with wind in the tops of hungry maples. And later you came in and we made love the way we do - a softness, slowly, a cry. A mouthful of pillow so as not to wake the children. And after gratitude, warming tea, and talking about our favorite fall.

In the corner, the fan from my childhood gathers dust. And Venus moves unseen through the sky, awaiting the sun's descent in order to briefly gleam on the westernmost rim of the sky. Who writes is blessed, like the end of clocks. Answered prayer, endless hymns. Porcelain predators line the window sill.

What is happiness in a world of scarcity? Why does God bother? All night dreaming of birch trees and traces of water in my palm. It must matter, she wrote, but then wrote no more. Teachers come and go when the student is not sure if they are ready.

A quartz silo glittering as the sun rises. The last petal of the last daisy falls softly to the frosty earth. Starlight takes a long time to find our eyes. One struggles to accept the love of Zinnias. The road home winding through billowing dark.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Hidden Chapel You Know

The curtains billow in breezes coming from all directions. I am happy for you, and also grateful. The dog - somewhat later than usual - comes out of the forest panting. Thus this.

Pumpkins on the periphery of thought because one sees them in late September and early October. One blurs the relationship between cause and effect. Though I wait on the mail, the mail never comes. And yet.

He thinks of her often, usually while walking, but sentences about her - or for her - do  not arise the way they once did. Forget what you're doing and focus on healing. I forget the names of all the bushes we transplanted. Thus this, for you.

I bear a difficult silence, only lately understood as negotiable. Enormous books ask to be read. One smells dust and mildew and sees a slant of light in which the faintest of faint blues is visible. The lake before dawn, a thousand miles away.

We were made for a hidden chapel, you know. I broke faith too easily for too long and may no longer pray on my knees. Songs compose themselves in the valley of rhymes. The women who don't read me are the ones who help me most.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What Knows the Graceful Heart

The crescent moon wanes and turns yellow and floats in the sky roughly like a turtle shell. I pass beneath it both happy and sad - happy because the Lord is near but sad because you aren't.

And now kindness hides in the forest, nervous and prescient, like a doe on the cusp of winter. How far we travel just to be lonely, just to reenact again the drama of lovers who dream their love can replace their God.

One wakes at a familiar hour, in luminous darkness, and kneels to pray. I taste your shoulder, trail the smooth extension of your collar bone, the satin shadows of your throat and arrive at your lips which part gently, pulling me closer to what knows the Graceful Heart

How gentle must we learn to be who were raised on anguish and hate! How devoted in a world that exists solely to debase the sacred . . .

In the face of storms, one hunkers down but refuses to leave the road. One renders in sentences what perhaps must go without.

And who stumbles stumbles the worse now, blinded by loss and the stubborn salt of tears. We are all fools and we all rise the way daisies do to the light.

Who promises forgiveness - who utters the world "love" - is bound by the promise to make whole what fears it will go forever broken. The mail arrives and goes out like the sea, like the light of the sun on the faraway sea.

No trail exists now that has not heard the gentle kiss in the syllables of your name. No lust billows that does not know it can safely exhaust itself in the country of your sighs.

Words are not enough now and nobody knows that better than me. And yet they flutter in my mind like falling leaves, each one whispering your name as it settles in frosty grass.

I write from the lonely chapel we built, in the clearing Christ prepared for us. My heart crying for you, who saw before I did - and yet knows better - the secret to union, this last step Home.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

As Far As The Old Fire Pit

The gourds failed to grow. I think of this while pushing wide the curtains to see a garden streaked with frost. Tea kettles whistle. The broken heart is an image useful mostly for holding others responsible for our pain. She reads loveless poets now, she is gone away.

I don't want to be read. The dogwood leaves turn yellow and spiral down, some reaching as far as the old fire pit. Graves, graves and more graves. Mice study me from the safety of the lumber pile. Ghosts pass.

Plot is narrative at its simplest - perhaps boringest. Yet my dreams last night were so entertaining I fell back to sleep easily both times I woke. In the morning, light falls a certain way through the window. You wake to and turn to face me and how natural it is to be with you. Who are we helping with our wordiness?

The dog and I go farther than usual, a sign of the need to expunge something. Kick polarities to the curb indeed. Fall Zinnias remain stubbornly the color of blood. The last door creaks when pushed open. Leave me, I say, and write happily in the open spaces.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Like Grapes, Like Graves

One awakens to no light in particular. Memories of goats to which recent allusion was made. The Black River on which geese rest. The question is not may we move mountains - or can we - but rather, why move them?

White pines I planted twenty-five years ago now tower over the house. One stumbles through the bracken in a panic, breath hot in torn lungs, and falls shy of the longed-for brook. At dusk, blood in the snow appears purple, like grapes. Like graves?

Like the arbor in which we buried the calves without speaking. She writes, and her words elevate, precisely for what they do not say (but want to). You are always here and probably always will be. He recalls Emily Dickinson and wishes he could ask her about bread.

Bark makes for a smoky fire. Also, the odd juxtaposition of subject and verb to which she was congenitally inclined. Gardens in which apples were lost are not forgotten. The tiniest caterpillar radiates Heaven, seen rightly.

Like that? Or this? I linger over images which briefly - so essentially - delivered me from boundaries set by thought. Or so it seems, this side of the day's first cup of coffee.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Our Particular Light

One pauses walking at 3 a.m. and listens to maple leaves falling one by one in the darkness. Not quite crescent moon. The sentences seem to come from nowhere and yet. The brook in autumn is mostly silent, the big dipper perched on its ladle in the northernmost sky.

I think of you, who no longer read this work, and see not a woman but a longing for wholeness that is itself the hindrance to love. We walked quietly through the museum, not quite touching. The fox lay on the shoulder, a bright jewel of red on its forever-silenced jaw. We are sparks unto those in need of our particular light.

Later conversations occupy my attention in the same manner as those from days earlier. We heft axes and imagine the trees shudder but it's only the wind. Writing, too, is hard to explain. So much emphasis yesterday on metaphors.

One waits, though for what they can't say. Narrative is a form of substitution. The winter sadness draws nigh. Bent on North, I missed absolutely the elegant nesting habits of flamingoes.

Specifically, this. There are bells only you can hear. As a man walking before dawn is brought up short by the falling leaves. Our home is the moth's wing, the same color as last month's moon.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Miraculous Plenitude

An abundance of Pokeweed, also hummingbird eggs. Tired children telling stories. Apples. Hours without you and then like a comet she lights up my brain. Neon ecstasy in a cold Vermont drizzle.

This field. Wanting light is another form of darkness. Also, don't fall for that old lie about the early patterns of our relationships - it's deeper than that and simpler. Letters matter in that we are all fools. A bell transferred from New Hampshire to Vermont and no longer rung.

Photographs of the blizzard of 1888 are oddly familiar. Perhaps it is time to let Emerson's essays go. In the morning I call to the moon and stars and while they don't respond it is easy to pretend they do. Damselflies whisper out over the misty river. Miles between us and no clear way home.

I am mapless, yes, but not lost. Her letters grew dark in the clutch of the old mailbox around which Morning Glories were strung. Wisconsin robins abound! We sail across the miraculous plenitude, driven by the filament sails of memory. You flower petal, you pine cone, you harmonious epoch of wind.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apples And Also Sadness

One plunges through goldenrod and thistle only to stumble. Jeans wet past the knees. You are not the woman I dream of, and yet you are the woman who is here. There are holes in the moonlight. There are animals in my heart.

While later on a rocking chair - the right arm of which is broken - the man without shoes sees again the loveliness of Christ. Moonlight is blue though the brain says white. Who lifts us, loves us, and who loves us renders us whole. The pasture expands to accept horses. Life follows us, it does.

Your letters made me happy and they also made me lie. Who knows what narrative means? The blue fire of which we are all composed radiated at your shoulder. All night I dreamed of apples and also sadness. We are carried a little way and then set down.

What glory is reserved for the faithful? Some rivers are not meant to be forged, or not forged at this time. We surrender to fear and it nearly kills us. The longing for light is a kind of darkness. If I move forward, are you there?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Recalls Apple Blossoms

And so gentleness returns. Stillness. In darkness in September one recalls apple blossoms - their delicate essence - and cannot sleep for such beauty and fragility. How I miss Her, who brought the Lord so close.

And yet. He wakes early - earlier than usual - and goes out into the fields that are blue in the moonlight. The sacred is everywhere, as the center is everywhere. And all things - even this.

She writes at an old table, one that he washes every afternoon. The body is not the words that sail through it, as I know all too well. In September, apples restore the brain's order that death is happy to confirm. Alone and unread I meet Christ and only after think, now what?

Now this. Again. The 4 a.m. composition, the morning prayer, the descent into "L" and "S" sounds, and trisyllabic bliss. There is no one to miss, and no one to leave, and yet the brain wanders as through a field in which a diamond was lost, lifetimes ago.

My tears fall heavy and slow! Watts Brook offers its hushed whispers, owls remind each other that all nights end. Because I am so bent on following Him, I am utterly unfollowable. Oh my empty hands, oh my wordy heart.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Interior Altars and Jesus

I head out later than usual. The dog chases a rabbit. Last night she woke me three times. I stood beneath stars groggy and unsure. Something is shifting.

Shifting, evolving. Words matter until they don't, and then they don't matter at all. If you read this, why not say so? Orion eyeballing a distant bear lumbering through the galaxies. I pause at the brook to drink and listen to chickadees.

They remind me there are other ways to think about time. Moments of clarity are increasingly rare! My teachers write and ask me to read more. Hawks frighten the chickens and the chickens frighten moths. What is it I cannot hold back?

One studies a particular expression of love only to learn they've been dismantling the only bridge back to illusions. Who stands beside me now ? Put aside the metaphorical metaphysical bullshit about interior altars and Jesus. The dog waits for me by shadowed ferns. What I am asking is, this together or another?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Impulse to Correct A Sweetness

And so the rain comes, a soft patter from the west. Certain fields go without deer. A quartz perspective, a sense of rising.

Bored crows pick at a dead third where the road turns. We enter the future blind. Slick rainbows, a popping sound.

The rain crescendoes mildly between maple leaves. Crickets scurry beneath tufts of woven grass. Your shoulders, the lines on your face.

One bares her chest, another her soul. Behind the clouds, stars, and beyond the stars, God. I can't remember the last time I saw a deer there.

An ancient mirror, mummified snow. Roads darken as the rain falls harder. Be wary of the impulse to correct a sweetness.

We long to be right. Or not alone. Or dry at least, when it rains.

Sentences elevate existence. Ours.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Something in the Stars

On the trail I find blue jay feathers, shotgun shells, rusted ball bearings and bear scat. Broken glass and oil cans dinged by .22's. The heron passes overhead, traveling west, which means something other than me spooked her. When I dream of you it owns the clarity of quartz and my fingers trailing a passage down your cheek come alive.

One reflects often on the movement of advaita vedanta west - to England and then the United States - and the resultant transformation - still subtle but readily trackable - on Christianity. The words we use matter. As in, "Potomac sunrise." We find ourselves in specificity and then lose ourselves in a greater light no longer fearful. I cannot bear - my body trembles - at the possibility of kisses.

Robins and their babies scatter. A fence, properly understood, binds nothing. One daughter takes her camera to the garden, the other carries a book into maple shadows to read. Often this writing is like notes for later, so I'll remember what to say. We are ripples joining, we extend and grow quiet.

Carry me a little further, won't you? Her letters often remind me of origami, or a yearning to create folds of my own, as if that were a helpful model. As roses are, or kisses. I am electric in you, as you are in me, and it just this side of manageable. We study the sky and see something in the stars that says we have done this before and it is okay, it is going to be okay.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Not Always Knowing

I go blessed though not always knowing. She is in my dreams, her orange sari moving with the wind. She urges me to greater honesty and thus a greater trust. Awakening means acceptance of what is, she says. And I think of you who are still distant yet closer than ever, and something electric passes through me. It sparks.

We are not alive the way we think. Waves roll in and go out. Light can take years to find us. In my dreams, you are always gentle but frequently given to hard questions. How I long to make love to you in the morning, our voices never rising above a whisper! And yet.

One trembles at the sudden depth of longing, as if suddenly realizing the sea has no bottom. There are models for this but they are all in the past and one is beholden now to what is. Your voice softens me, dear one. Avoid judgment, she says again. There are no directions in the country of love. The moon is still and yellow behind a line of maple trees and all the light one needs.

For you I choose the words carefully. As in prayer, in grace.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Crows Appear

And so the light changes. Roseate skies turn violet than blue. My glasses break. Are you there?

I am here, in the tendril narratives we confuse for our lives. The oven hisses, chickadees flutter at the back fence. I hear bells sometimes, other times trains. Your letters make a difference in my happiness.

Can I say that like that? Slow-moving rivers testify to power. I think of her often while walking, a sort of catalogue in my mind of images I think she'd like. One longs, one does.

Impossibly a zinnia blooms in late August. One walks the horse deeper into the forest and the quiet owns an unfamiliar quality. This is not writing the way I want to write. He wrote.

Honesty comes hard. My traveling woman carries secrets and inside her a desert. Crows appear to study me at a distance. I swallow hard - say it - and continue.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Oddly Vulnerable

I walk slowly sometimes. Sometimes I stop. Yesterday I saved a little snapping turtle from the road. Last of the hawkweed makes me want to cry. Come home, won't you?

Certain sticks are reminiscent of snakes. Certain snakes make me sad, how oddly vulnerable they are. In dreams she wears the shirt I use for cutting wood. Quartz glistens after rain and the last of the hawkweed brings tears to my eyes.

Tracks of the dog, tracks of deer and then - more rarely - fox tracks. Chicken feathers on the trail means an unhappy farmer. Have I ever put "coffee" and "struggles" in the same sentence? Probably not.

She struggles over coffee with how much writing to show me. January stars await our going forth. In a sense, my hands already know you. Desire wedded to stillness equals bliss.

Or so it went twenty-five years ago on a dirt road in December! Snakes buried in a frost without dreams. May I share with you the hawkweed, its last flare as the august sun winds its way home? Don't worry, write.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Dream and Not A Dream Too

How blessed we are.

How quiet the brook is before dawn.

How soft the humus when I press my hand against it.

When you speak something in me softens.

In the vale of your attention I soften.

In August, the moon and the sun share the sky, like lovers whose relationship is nearly always outside time.

But now.

Now the goldenrod leans out over the pond.

The deer step gently into the pond.

Ripples reach the far side and continue up the bank into the cool air where I stand electric.

Moonlight fills the hayfield where the tall grass has fallen over in rows.

My heart fills: and worries: and lets go.

Again and again and again.

The traveler I long to hold is nearly here.

The traveler whose lips have called to mine: in prayer, in song, in letters.

For my knees long to bend, my hands to grace soft shoulders.

It is a dream, and not a dream, too.

And I will be here.

For waiting is the perfection of stillness.

And stillness the perfection of love.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

All I Know of Loveliness and Welcome

We roust a bear on our way back from the fire ponds. It peers at me from the oak tree, the limbs of which are its refuge, appearing almost bored. This is what I meant to say. How lovely the forest is, and how welcoming, and all I know of loveliness and welcome.

This writing project cannot be possessed! Nor do I owe anybody anything. I've never claimed to be other than a wordy fool. I've never suggested I can do more than stumble around in search of grace.

Spiders rest in the center of their webs. Beer bottles emerge from the soil, half a century old. That's what rain does: bring the past back to us. How I hate that old intrusion!

It's easy to surrender what one doesn't want. That's what we say the trail means, no? But the question is: what are trails good for? And usually the answer is found off the trail, where the woods grow thick and gnarly, and the bears look at you as if to say: again?

Yes, again! And again and again and again! Now what? Now this, naturally.

Old Anguish

Slow mornings illuminated by bronze light. August clarity. Shadows cross the face of the barn. Now what?

Last night I followed the moonlight deep into the forest. I went off the trail. Being tracked by others scares me and so I won't read her writing anymore. This is not intimate.

The days expand. One feels the breathing of which they are a part. Was this what she wanted? Ravens fill the sky and Monarch butterflies pass in the wind.

Mine is the old anguish of silence and the words to say it. The brook rises in its track and deer sip from it cautiously. This sentence easily becomes you. The next one leaves you behind, also easily.

Interior movement is itself the guide. The mapless are beautiful, as those who claim to study with them know. The fingerprints you see next will not be mine "beloved." I go alone now, every step more quiet than the last.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Happier Now

And the corn grows so tall I can't see over it.

Red-winged blackbirds perch on the ears.

At night beyond the pasture bears grunt working through crab apples rotting in the grass.

And the moon seems to pass.

And the light comes, and grows stronger, and fades.

Sometimes I think of each word as a package, a little gift.

The last of the chicory sags.

The sunflowers are happier now at night.

In the morning, the dog and I walk out to the old fire pond and watch beavers paddling back and forth.

The Great Blue Heron stands quietly in the distance.

Cameras are deceptive.

As sentences are, though differently.

In my dream she said again: the only book is your heart.

I woke happy, tangled in dewy blankets.

All morning I write and read and all afternoon I work with Chrisoula, putting up kale and broccoli and blueberries.

We talk about the doctor and her recommendations.

Hawks pass over and the chickens scurry beneath the shed.

Hummingbirds perch on the old goat fence and at night I walk out to where we buried their bones and see again blood and again feel the sorrow of one who has caused more pain than he intended.

Grapes emerge, and blushing apples.

And in the forest, the smell of pine needles floats on the wind, the only letter necessary.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Only A Lonesome Cry

What is the writing that is not only a response?

Or only a lonesome cry?

The baby milk snake lay crushed on the road, as if it had swallowed a ruby and died expunging it from just below the head. About a quarter mile away, a single crow feather rested gently on the swale.

Is it this?

Is the reader we know more precious - or differently precious - from the one we don't know, but can intimate - can feel - as through some cloudy distance a horse were approaching?

How can we know we are "you" or "I?"

When I write, and you read, are we?

Clouds roll in and the sun fades behind them, an oily smear hidden in gauze. I can't separate love from sex. Or can I.

Her letters are stacked on the desk. Twenty years ago I threw away about fifty letters and what good did that do? I limp beneath memory's hash mark.

Who understands a river understands love.

I believe I led one "you" to a practical understanding of herself as a poet.

As others led (and left) me. I had - have - ideas (or are they hopes?) about how she might express her gratitude. But mostly I miss her and I never know how to say that.

Thus writing, thus this.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Journey of Many Miles

All night I dream of her, with an intensity that is barely manageable. How alone one can be! A few minutes before dawn I rose and held myself gently by the window.

Who chooses me chooses wrongly (he wrote). In the dream, you betrayed everything "for just one song" and then standing with me after in the alley as I led you to my own cramped quarters began to shake with fear at what you'd done. On the walls of the city, the thief's name was written in blue chalk, along with each charge against him, and he paused to scrub them out.

Later - in a dream closer to waking - full of bronze light one is tempted to call joy - she was so fluid and electric (doing cartwheels and blushing) that it almost hurt to hold her and yet I did, happily. The rooster's cry (at dawn) contains whole countries if you listen. We walked from my grandmother's old house to the land I am buying - a journey of many miles - and we walked it together in silence, holding hands.

Does this make sense (I am asking you)? I asked Jesus quite specifically: if there is more to this than desire, please tell me. How slowly I learn about love . . .

How slowly I learn and at what terrible cost? In the morning with my coffee - later than usual and still tired and - yes - fucking confused - all I can say is I would be willing to try it, to have you with me, that way. One's chest owns a certain tremulousness at the thought of leaping, of any perilous height.

And yet. But how.

Are those not the lessons we are sent here to learn?

In my dream, you wore only my old green corduroy shirt, loosely buttoned, the one I cut wood in sometimes, and sipped black coffee while leaning against the counter and though you neither needed or wanted me to fall to my knees, that was the interior impulse and I struggled against it and I still struggle.

And I think: how distant the stars are, how insistent their light.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Always A Happiness

A single moth on the road, pale and still, a perfect triangular fold. There is no such thing as wingless. Or cold.

Near the brook - plashing in darkness - something scuttles the underbrush. Against stars, the slope of the hill appears to undulate. Soon enough she'll have something to say.

The afternoon passed between blueberry bushes and a lame but cheerful enough horse. We fried bacon and talked about the pig, who earlier in Spring we'd fed apples and potato peels. Who goes without wings merely refuses to see that even choice is an illusion.

Well, work. Muddy lawn chairs after so much rain. Even my famous gourd plants are stunted and unsure.

It's okay or it will be. Fran invites me over to look at his oxen and I chide him about his obsession with Chianina and later we laugh at how neither one of us can drink beer anymore. Only the wingless have need of skies.

Coming back before sunrise is always a happiness. The first cup of coffee is best, and settling in to write, this.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Far Corner of the Sky

What do your hands say to you? What do your feet say?

The trail opens in summer when crickets push aside the grass to sing.

And in August, when the first hint of winter shows in the far corner of the sky, the bears leave tracks that say go away, go away.

This letter, not another.

Our feet say travel. They say climb that mountain. And sometimes, lay down and rest.

Our hands say give.

Our fingers and palms expand to accept what is given.

Can you imagine a bed of wild down between rocks at the foot of a hill when the snow flies?

Is your body ever light enough to be lifted by the prismatic wings of dragonflies?

This morning and no other.

And the sun rises and the low clouds dissolve and the light is bright enough to read by.

And the neighbor's horse breaks its fence and comes over to graze.

Fledgling cardinals hide in goldenrod while seed rattles being poured into feeders.

This writing and not any other writing.

What do you feel? Can you say?

Would you ever go beyond that, to where I cannot say?

Monday, August 12, 2013


Don't dwell on what will pass away, she tells me.

Dwell instead on what is eternal.

If you do not know what is eternal - or all too often forget - then set your attention solely to attaining this knowledge.

I walk in the forest before dawn.

Often, I walk there at noon as well.

There are voices in the wind, voices in the trees.

The stars are not gone during the day but cannot be seen.

The sacred texts are like that sometimes.

The ones sent to help us are like that, too.

Purple finches groom themselves on the back fence.

And certain fields go unhayed, and certain bells go unrung.

I tell her of my loves and she listens.

Often while we talk she studies her hands.

One time she folded and unfolded a small red cloth with yellow circles on it.

There are many teachers, each created to serve a certain student.

She seems to leave and come back.

Her letters are like a wind that is sometimes steady and sometimes only passing.

Evidence of it is everywhere.

I, too, seem to leave and come back.

The way a song remains long after you're finished singing it.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Who writes - of necessity - teaches.

Often in the morning when I look up into the sky it is as if I am seeing my own face.

Between fast-moving clouds, many stars.

Between the bright stars - each comprised of its own yearning - the night.

Mind dissolves darkness.

There are slow bends in the river.

There is a point in the walk at which sees change: at the cellular level, the energetic level.

Habits bind us to the body.

Repetition binds us.

We can go without no one though folly will forever suggest otherwise.

I forget the four directions.

I forget the spiritual lessons.

Mind is a prism through which the world dissolves into streams of light, each one brighter than the last.

Walking I know it, writing I say it.

As soon as one talks, what is is lost.

And yet.

Her letters slow like a brook without rain.

The serious student is not dissuaded.

Yet awakening will bear no unexamined sorrow.

Wordy but happy - at the deeper levels so often unattended - I write and share what I write and you read it and together - this time perhaps - we go home together.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


There is a world beyond this world.

There is a way of seeing that has nothing to do with your eyes.

The light of the moon rises to meet you.

The mist on the lake rises to meet you.

You walk as if your shoulders were wings.

Love goes before you, making a way.

Grasshoppers never leap mistakenly into the path of cars.

The tractor never crushes any snakes.

And the doe in the far field sees you watching and returns to her grazing, unalarmed.

All of this belongs to you, and waits only for your yes.

That one syllable is in your throat as I write.

It is like a perfect stone or a drop of water through the sun shines at dawn.

It is as vibrant as the heart of a hummingbird.

It longs to be uttered.

It can never be lost.

It is the means by which the gift of the real world is at last made manifest.

And by which the old tired and broken world is healed at last.

My love, after so many lifetimes of resisting, would you finally speak it that I, too, might know the gentle country of your sacred and beautiful heart?

For the roads I walk are grown dark indeed.

And the many graves voluble.


The rabbit hops away from us.

When we reach the space in which it was feeding, we can see the soft indentations left by its hind feet.

The air smells of thunder and torn clover.

We pause by the brook and comment on how low it is, the current barely a flicker of silver over the muddy bottom.

Bear tracks abound.

A Warbling Vireo flies out from the still-bright goldenrod and studies us silently.

When we walk, she talks and I listen attentively.

Sometimes she is given to silence, and I listen to that, too.

We pass the wild blueberry, stopping to admire how thoroughly the robins and grackles have stripped the bushes.

Ferns rise in both hay fields and something invisible stirs amid them: baby turkeys perhaps, possibly grouse.

There are leaves already turning.

We experience longing before we have a name for it.

The work - my work anyway - is to find what goes before language and make contact with it.

Sustained contact, helpful contact.

Near the cemetery we spy a deer, its eyes already fixed on us and even after almost half a century of seeing them, I still catch my breath.

She says it looks like a doe, which I confirm.

There are no fawns visible, which saddens us a little.

We walk quietly then through the cemetery, feeling a cool breeze from the north and west.

Rain is coming and we turn our faces against it.

We walk home past crab apple trees and faded tiger lilies, nibbling bitter fruit, lost in our own thoughts, and every once in a while holding hands.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Roads formerly unpaved now bear the crushed bodies of crickets to Heaven.

Deer step slowly through the marsh, forever away.

It is like that, this life.

It leaves us.

Or it seems to leave.

Be glad in your heart for you are not of the world, she writes.

Her letter arrives like a cloud passes over a landscape.

Who is outside of time is always here and cannot leave.

The very Love that is God is in your heart if you will only say yes to it, she writes.

Her letters are often one or two paragraphs only - an old lady scrawling on crumpled stationary - but this one is almost two pages.

It smells like cardamom.

I carry it with me into the forest where a quarter century ago loggers ripped the place clear.

Baby bears tumble through it now, hooting after their Momma.

Chickadees sing.

A letter is like the person stands before you and speaks quietly into your ear, her hand on your shoulder.

It is not like a photograph which only reminds us of absence.

Do not question your decisions once you make them, she says.

Either your will aligns with God or it does not, in which case God will realign it.

We need do so little!

How I love you (she writes) and think of you often and no prayer I utter is but for you.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


The blank page morning after morning.

The cardinal in the tall grass below the feeders.

The mouse with whom I share the back porch.

In the distance, cumuli gather on top of one another and stray towards the sea.

What goes unhurried goes blessed.

The sentences are a dedication.

A declaration.

Goldenrod by the fence, chickens nestling in the dust.

Morning after morning the blank page appears and is filled.

A long day of writing followed by another long day of writing.

We find our practice and it sustains us.

It urges us.

In the first letter she sent after she left she she wrote, "let what guides you guide you and do not be fickle about its intention."

Some mornings I walk by the brook and stop to admire stones I have known for forty years.

There are birch trees beneath which ancient fire pits contain so much pain one wonders if relief is even possible.

Horse graves from which sapling maples now stand, a tiny grove in which chickadees nest, apparently happy.

The world will make a place for you, a place in which you will know at last the grace of God and the utter absence of anything else, but you must accept it.

Yes is the necessary syllable.

I begin with twenty sentences, no one more precious than another.

I say yes: yes. 

Monday, August 5, 2013


The lilac bushes begin to grow dull.

The grass grows slower.

At night our dreams fill with teachers and teaching and when we wake, they slowly dissolve, like salt tossed into the sea.

Smile more, she says.

Learn the truth of "you do not have to choose between prayer and anything else."

She points me to the New Testament, especially Paul's letter to the Hebrews.

In her letter she writes, "'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.'"

"Seen rightly, the truth of that is your liberation."

I watch the sun rise and remind myself that right seeing is inevitable.

I woke thinking of the dead baby robin, buried in a rushed grave as the rain began.

How sad life can be!

I was so grieved I forgot the shovel out in the rain, an unpardonable error in the circles in which I grew up.

And this: "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.'"

The dog curls up on the bed while I write.

Our walk is coming later than usual.

I cannot shake the dream of another teacher reminding me of the loveliness of Montpelier, Vermont.

I wanted to ask her about her own writing, which has so moved me these past five years.

She was unhappy with how she left it but also amused.

The details - as always - were not for me to know.

And I struggled to say even this much.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Fall comes, or seems to.

The clouds drift higher and the grackles assemble in wheeling flocks.

Pumpkins swell in rainy gardens and apples drag on wizened branches in the secret orchard.

At night one pulls the quilt closer.

One dreams not of death anymore but - oddly - of satisfaction in many forms and settings.

Is it happiness at last?

Or acquiescence?

Her letters come, or seem to.

"My prayer is always with you and will guide you accordingly if you allow it."

It is so much easier when a body is present!

On the calendar I have placed a small check on the day she will next arrive.

The vase of flowers on the living room table looks tired but we are running out of options in the field.

Snowflakes with haiku on them - a spring project with the kids - sift off the wall as the tape dries.

My students are tired too and come to tears easily.

"Always remember there is only one thing and it is always in motion," she writes.

I try to remember but it is hard.

"When the day begins, make time for God, as much as you can, in silence and stillness, and at the end of the day too, and in between as frequently as possible, and do not deviate from this but make it your practice."

She urges me to consider attention in the nature of a gift.

Practice the given.

She says who lingers on reciprocity is bound to sorrow.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Sitting quietly out front with tea.

Giving - not paying - attention.

A breeze comes through the pine trees.

Bronze needles sift down and settle in grass.

One thinks of brooks a mile or more away.

And rivers, which lead to deeper rivers, which lead to the sea.

It is not that we are connected but that we are one.

The space between where I sit and the cardinal browses for seed is not separate from me and the cardinal.

Clouds pass, so many shades of gray.

They move quickly, like schools of fish.

And the grackles now are gathering into flocks.

Hungers of all kind drive us.

When we make contact with one form - and give it sustained attention - it is undone for us.

Inquire: what is it that operates in all space and for all time and always for our benefit?

For what passes does not really pass.

And letting go is really a recognition that there is nothing to hold.

The cardinal finds its seed and satiated flutters away.

Yesterday a moth struggled to escape the lake's drag.

We are like that.

And not like that too sometimes.

Friday, August 2, 2013


The I that you believe you are will not withstand inquiry.

Sustained inquiry, pointed inquiry.

Yet it continues.

Something in us says no, let the pain continue.

And it does.

I write to her and tell her how cold the lake was yesterday.

The small bass flopping in shallows, feeding on Taiga Bluets.

We ate cantelope and pumpkin seeds on the shore.

Female mallards watched at a distance.

In yesterday's mail I received a dozen books, including several rare editions, a bibliophile's dream, a gift from a reader far away.

The news is mostly good I tell her.

I am surprised by the good that people can do.

Still surprised.

Before she left she told me to simplify my relationships.

And to do the one thing that God asked of me.

When you know the one thing, don't question the one thing, she said.

Make use of it.

The children liked her, even the shyest.

Especially the shyest.

And so I write happily, and my happiness shines, as if the sun were inside me, a star slowly emerging, its light for anyone who happens by.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Through attention we learn that we are not the five senses of the body.

Through attention we learn that even thought is external.

The sun rises slower and slower.

Can you hear it?

When we grasp at anything we lose it.

What we call "going deeper" is simply the continued application of the fundamental question: what am I?

Slowly we become aware of the space that precedes objects.

Slowly we become aware of the field of energy in which all perception happens.

What is hidden, longs to be found.

Yet we fear it.

The grackles begin to assemble in flocks, wheeling through the deep sky.

Hunger drives them, and winter.

The bears become reckless, scaling fences and barreling through gardens.

After so much negation - I am not this, I am not that - possibility emerges.

What is natural is always there, unhindered by analysis or perception.

It is only that with which we are called to make contact.

If we call it awareness then we have cast a veil across its luminosity, for to name anything is to imply an opposite.

And yet.

Dedicate yourself utterly and without equivocation to realization.

For it is already what is, and there is nothing else but it, and even words (she writes) cannot contain or sufficiently express it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Notice the space in which what happens happens.

Space precedes both subject and object.

It joins them, too.

At night we go out and look at the stars

The ferns rustle as we pass.

The sunflowers stir in the wind.

Strands of cloud drift across the Milky Way.

Somewhere a piano plays, each plaintive note like its own drop of dew.

I walk slower and slower.

Between one foot rising and the next foot falling, eternity.

Or it feels that way.

She smiles when I least expect it.

She is indifferent when I most desire coddling.

She asks for coffee heavy on the sugar, lots of cream.

We talk about the bird feeders a lot - where they are place, what type of seed they contain, what birds visit, and what improvements, if any, might be helpful.

Sometimes I think: what are we talking about?

She says, doubt is not a bad thing because it reminds us to be attentive.

Humility is good, too.

And birds, she says.

Always birds.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


How strange to not be needed.

The old rules no longer work.

Her letters arrive the way birds arrive in one's field of vision.

Her words are always familiar, almost like echoes.

The brain hunts for problems to solve.

It is hungry like the chickadees who gather at the feeder.

It is clever like the squirrel that works diligently in their midst.

And predatory as the neighborhood cats who pass through murderous.

Thought is good for discovering the limits of thought but no more.

One makes contact with the space in which what happens happens.

There is always ever only one thing happening.

It is simple but the brain has evolved to obscure it.

We have created opposition where none exists.

We have hidden what is sought in the seeker.

We are agonizingly clever.

One notices then the verbs that she uses.

Release, surrender, give in, flow.

One notices too the nature of resistance.

It is like a war, an internal conflict with impossible stakes.

It is a dream, she says, from which we awakened long ago.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Yesterday a coyote crossed the road before me as I walked.

Forget-me-nots sparkled on the berm.

I wonder what to tell her in my next letter.

There is a loveliness in perception but it moves.

The coyote passes into the bracken, then deeper into forest.

In my mind he is frozen on the median, eyeballing me warily.

Crows pass.

Grackles move into flocks, undulating in open sky.

Winter is coming.

Before she left she told me I was almost ready, which was why she was here.

You will forget me, she said.

But I will not forget you.

In her last letter, she reminded me to simplify all relationship.

Pay attention to sleep, she wrote.

What is is aware even unto sleep.

Walking I pass the crab apple tree, and the graves of horses.

Resistance remains a factor.

I don't always want to let go.

Nothing happens and everything is transformed, she promises.

I tell her about the coyote, passing so swiftly into forever.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


The sunflowers adjust their lean according to the solar prerogative but still don't grow.

Calls are made but go unanswered.

One walks all morning only to learn the mail is not sorted and will not be until lunch.

Our lives unfold or flow - there is a sense of movement - and we remove ourselves from it in order to comment.

She urges me to write more.

"Silence is not your mode."

Yet I long for the deep quiet and rise early to walk through it, always sad when it is time to begin speaking.

She insists that difficulties are always of our own making for what is God yearns only to be known and offers itself accordingly.

I know it and I know I know it but still.

The study of resistance will not end resistance but it may reveal the futility of study.

The kids come by asking for help with a camera.

I put the book down and we discover the problem and solve it together.

To thank me, they take pictures of the gourd plant, always the most beloved.

They know my teacher's name and practice saying it, the awkward syllables tripping off their young tongues.

What would she say about this, they ask.

Their desire to learn is tangible.

It is not separate from the recognition of their capacity to love which goes before words.

One of her students - who handles her correspondence - sends me a photograph and tells me my letters are most welcome and very articulate.

I drink tea as the sun rises higher and higher, burning away what I cannot see and so remain burdened by.

Chickadees come by, then mourning doves, all staying just long enough to feed their hunger and then going on, to where I cannot say.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


She is gentle always.

It is not hard to walk with her.

Yet she merits honesty - unbridled and unconditioned.

Teaching is not possible otherwise.

Often I choose silence rather than the web of language I long ago rendered untrustworthy.

But she is clear: silence is not my mode.

Nor does she value opinion.

The level of opinion is always untrue because it is inherently both right and wrong.

On the last day of her visit she asked about my attachments.

It was hard to talk.

The list, I told her, was very long.

But she only waited.

I began with people: living and dead.

I moved on to food and songs and books.

It became that whatever image entered my mind, I was attached to that too.

And so I listed it, accordingly.

I don't remember how it ended.

She did not speak herself nor address any of the specifics to which I had made reference.

When we had been quiet a long time, she said "none of those things are real."

I began to say "I know" - how I long to impress her! - but her small smile stopped me, and I said instead, "that is not yet clear to me but I hope in time it will be."

Friday, July 26, 2013


One wakes before dawn.

Robins and grackles are silent in their bowers and shadow.

Clouds pass the moon, obscuring its light, as the  maple leaves do when one stands beneath them and looks straight up.

Thought is external.

When we first begin to sense this the tendency - understandably - is to pull back.

The conflation of light and dark is briefly martial in those moments.

The dog goes out and comes back, tongue lolling.

One can almost imagine the sound of rabbits chewing clover behind the woodpile.

Due East, a few strands of oily light appear.

Clouds bunch and float slower.

She writes that it is not a mistake to assume there are no mistakes.

And the form we assume is the form best-suited to the awakening of all life for all time.

Attention is required.

Sustained attention.

It is an act of love.

The wish to understand is not understanding!

At last I go walking towards the sun.

Birds begin to sing in still-dark bushes.

That which is Love is aware even within the deepest of sleeps.

Even unto death and after.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Last of the chicory where the trail begins.

This year's thistle grew taller than me.

We enter now a written correspondence.

I walk each day to the post office, six miles round trip, to look for her letters.

One half anticipation, one half either joy or sadness.

We are always learning.

We are never not the material we need to gain insight.

The birch trees bend towards the earth.

In glades off the path, deer lift their heads to listen.

I stop beneath a crab apple tree.

Spiders are working in its lower limbs.

Her handwriting has open loops and slants upward across the page.

One longs to study the cursive in order to perceive a deeper intent.

Yet she discourages enterprise.

That which is not revealed will not be discovered, she says.

Pay attention, cultivate gratitude & be helpful, she writes.

Rid yourself of the addiction to results.

The spiders work and the earth turns and the sun burns brighter through its tremulous veils.

Reading her, I hear her voice and smile.

Thus buttressed I continue, back to the chicory, so perfectly blue & still, and beyond.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


The rhubarb plants fall back into the earth.

Bluets and daisies fall back too.

The moon rises in the east and sets in the west.

And one or two leaves on the maple tree brighten like a livid fire.

So the days pass.

So the seasons pass.

Our bodies grow old and die.

There is no grief in what happens naturally, she says.

There is no sadness because there is no ending.

At the deepest levels - in the subtlest of understandings - nothing ends, nothing begins.

Chickens scratch through yesterday's compost.

Robins fly over singing.

Only complete independence from circumstance assures happiness.

It is both easier and harder than it seems.

She urges me to greater honesty, asking: what do you want?

Answer quickly or else it's a lie!

When I adopt the stance of a monk, she laughs.

When I refuse to speak, she chucks me gently on the shoulder.

The river is your teacher, she says.

For it simply goes as it must, singing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Rain obscures the moon.

All night it falls, softer and softer, like kisses after.

At dawn, still awake, I stand beneath the Dogwood tree.

Its late blossoms are already turning to soil beneath my feet.

So long as you believe in beginnings and endings, you are in the range of neither.

Yesterday we walked in the forest in the middle of the day.

Where the trail turns away from the river, she stopped.

The dog and I stopped as well.

We waited like that, still and silent, for a quarter hour at least.

Just when I was beginning to question it, they came.

A doe and two fawns just ahead.

They stepped delicately from the woods onto the trail.

The babies wanted to play but imitated their momma, who studied us and, learning we posed no danger, continued gracefully on her way.

The world is full of gifts that seen rightly end time and lead one away from dependency on thought.

Did this happen yesterday?

Or was it a hundred years ago?

What does not bring us swiftly to gratitude must be set gently aside.

This is the time of thankfulness and simplicity.

Only then are we able to start the necessary journey to the interior.

She takes my hand and together we continue.

Monday, July 22, 2013


We settle ourselves in order to begin.

It is a matter of thought, she says at last.

We sit out back as the sun rises, clouds trailing across the hills.

Birds come to the feeder: cardinals, chickadees, grackles, finches.

Her joy at seeing them is infectious.

It is my joy, too.

Thought can solve problems in the way a hand can lift a hammer, she says.

But it cannot end itself.

It is like your breath, which moves naturally, without apparent effort on your part.

Thought, like breath, will not of itself lead you to God.

I bring her coffee heavily sweetened.

We spend hours studying attention.

The sun rises and the day grows hotter.

Bees drowse in the clover, heavy with nectar.

We differentiate between awareness and attention.

She encourages me to be less surreptitious with my love of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Who questions the gift is ungrateful, she says.

And who is ungrateful merely chooses to remain outside the benevolent nest of the Divine, to the dismay of all.

We walk to the corner of the yard where the hawkweed grows.

Before it we are still a long time, not talking.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Just after midnight the breeze wakens me.

The dog and I walk through the house, then go outside on the grass.

Between clouds, stars.

Between thoughts, nothing.

Deer look up where they graze in the distance.

The fawns step awkwardly through moonlight.

Our attention seems to drift but it can be directed.

She reminds me that there is much to do "in the world."

The pages of certain books turn slower than others.

Who wants the "one" has forever obscured the one.

And who goes "without judgment" has already judged.

It is much simpler than it seems, she says.

We talk about the garden at dusk and dawn and I learn.

We kneel to fasten the stems of tomatoes closer to their poles.

Help is always given but we have to ask.

You talk too much, she says, and other times don't talk enough.

She insists that silence is not my mode.

I wake again at 3 a.m., the right sentences in my mind, and put them down on a piece of paper near the bed.

How long it takes to become clear, when we have gone muddy for lifetimes!

And yet not so long either.