Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sappho Yet Again

The night's writing is gone in the morning, and those are the nights I love most. Intention matters though not always the way we want. I see hearts constructed of bluets and straw, strands of horse hair and fragments of baling twine, and in them delicate yellow eggs I long to candle, the better to remember that the center is everywhere. Lilac when you go, okay?

Well, at one a.m. or just after the old dog and I went outside to see the moon, one day beyond full, bright as the world's last television. You can hear the wind where it begins, you can see where the light bends to enter the eye. Reheated tea, friends on the west coast "just saying hey," and waves breaking all night without any sense of a shore line. Healing begins in honesty, as all images emerge from what longs to remember it is whole.

The front yard maple trees were filled with the moon, as I was filled with their hushes and shadows. It was a good dream when you slipped into it, sitting in the corner, asking again would I explain to you death. You can pick your psychology, pick your philosophy, you can pick whatever expression best fits and so what's the worry? Her bathrobe slung over the chair nagged at me, the way a certain trail sometimes does, or the memory of bears.

The thing about being alone with the moon is that it is never just you and the moon. One wakes humming the soundtrack to Annie and so gives attention to the point where orphans entered the narrative. Fall River, Massachusetts, you are never not altogether absent from my thoughts! One sips from the sea when kneeling at the delta, one says everything more clearly when in love.

How I love those places where the rain collects, and the birds come by to bathe, and you feel like reading Sappho yet again. Oh honesty, why must you accept so many masks? When you played Fur Elise everyone in the room grew quiet and I tasted a little of the stillness I am presently allowing to unfurl. Thank Christ for L sounds, and blueberries and geese.


  1. ...and breezes on a little porch in Austin, where the sun is just coming out from behind fast-moving clouds.

    A friend not quite on the West coast saying hey and happy Father's Day...hope your day is filled with birds and berries and love.

  2. Thank you Cheryl! Texas breezes are never not welcome!

    I hope you and your daughter are well . . .

    ~ Sean

  3. In combined words of Sean and Sappho: *The Moon is down* Pleiades, Midnight * The hours flow on, * I stand outside, with my dog :) :)
    So here comes my flowery flow of associations and links :) Few years ago, a friend recommended this lovely album called Ballads of the Book, which features collaborations between Scottish musicians and Scottish writers. I loved the idea of collaboration. Anyway, your mention of Sappho reminded me of a wonderful Edwin Morgan poem*translation I love his interpretation so much, it gives off such a vivid image of an old bard (I often see dear Edwin Morgan himself) singing life, soul, body.. Like a farewell letter, an ode and recitation... You can sense Heart... In language of J. Hillman (thank you for that! What a gift his essay is to Beauty:)), there is ∼himma∼ here and a Lion and the desert and the wound ... And from the Wound rises a Rose, a Flower, this wonderful Poem :) I like this one also It captures how I imagine Edinburgh to be ∼weaved in raindrops, love, heartbreak and poetry (I've never been there). What is it with Rain and Scotland, such a poetic union it is:) I think of the song My favourite rain, written by Kevin Williamson, contemporary Scottish writer Also, Danny MacAskill, Scottish cyclist, from Dunvegan - Isle of Skye, he is relative of Angus MacAskill .. famous Giant with a tender Heart.. the tallest giant in recorded history...who lived in 19th century and worked for a while at Barnum's... Anyway, this video is called Way Back Home, Danny's ride from Edinburgh to his home, Isle of Skye What a ride, beauty! Truly, each man talent is heartexplosionly poetic :)
    ****Sending Flowers to you and your Loved ones****

  4. Wow* short waterfall of summery Rain, few moments ago and all of a sudden* it must be from all that talk of rain* Heheh seems external is the effect not the cause :)

  5. There you are, Zrinka . . . Thank you for sharing, always. Lovely stuff; the Celtic mind understands how sorrow and melody harmonize - or level one another (all those hills) - My father for example was always quoting I believe Chesterton who said something like "The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad,/For all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad" which confused the hell out of me as a child - I am still reeling surely - and yet later discovered G.K.C.'s beautiful notion that the way to love anything is to realize it may be lost for I was never not Done with the compass-/done with the chart . . . . Yes Scotland . . . I passed through it years ago with a guitar, wandering around under the influence of whiskey and cigarettes and trains and sundry other lights I associated in my confused way with an Eden I was never to find. A lover once wrote me happily from Edinburgh and I hated the city for it because I could not hate her but then when at last I visited it - alone and sad and unable to stop walking much less talk to anybody who wasn't tending a bar - I filled a whole notebook in two days with poems and notes including a song whose lyrics I can no longer remember though I was so happy singing them, the way a ray of light is happy to find itself on this side of the nimbus. Would I write if it were not the only way to find myself? I wonder. Those were not the days, those days in Scotland and Ireland, but they weren't so bad, either, and of course you can always find your way to an airport and from there to Boston and from Boston to points west though I have not been west since years ago I went all the way to Saint Louis to learn I was in love with a woman who was only days away from leaving for Scotland . . . I'm glad you liked that Hillman essay; it is a favorite of mine. Hearts and wounds (like lions and swans) abound. I had just started reading him in those days - leaping out of Robert Bly's cheery and optimistic simplicity to something darker but sturdier. I leaped from Hillman too in time but still. I wonder do we ever really leave anything sometimes - the mail, Edinburgh, certain songs - all of it composing the self, or selves, as we go. Leaping isn't leaving but deepening in place. Williamson - who is coarse in a way I question - writes "We’re alive/and in this thing together" and I believe that. It makes sense the way I need sense right now. Travelers find their way eventually, yes? My favorite Scottish song - have I said this before? I have said this before I am sure - is Dougie MacLean's the Gael which was appropriated years later by Hollywood as the Kiss and I like kisses better than Gaels, even kissing Gaels, and I like the landscape any kiss implies, wild and rainy and mountainous - like Scotland surely - in which I never quite exhaust myself, even now.

  6. "Would I write if it were not the only way to find myself? I wonder."

    But if you didn't write -- weren't compelled to write -- you wouldn't even wonder that, would you?

    Each of us is a wounded heart, you know. Thoughts of Cohen's crack where the light gets in.

    And travelers do indeed find their way ... This traveler is back home, although I'm quite partial to the statement that wherever you go, there you are....and Austin is somewhere I would like to be again. So much openness and so many shared stories and wounded hearts looking to heal.

    hmmm...and what can one say about kisses that hasn't been said before. :)

    Take care,

  7. Dear Sean, sorry for not answering sooner. I loved your response (and your beautiful idea of spiritual Landscapes and Kisses, Kisses as Spiritual landscapes!), but somehow I had these intense few days and was a bit exhausted with myself and my voice.
    I can strongly relate to what God said: *You want too much and don’t know what you want* :) Notknowing shapes my life. I am eager to take the apple (Idea) from the tree.... only to put it down after exploring it... and then walk away in shame. I resist completely surrendering myself to Life without attaining the right knowledge*awareness - right Idea - and yet I resist every notion of one, right knowledge to hold on to. Yes, so much resistance, it gives a headache :) Of course, before headache, there was a heartbreak - At the root of this wounded heart, is the fact that I don't want to hold any idea completely and make it my reality. I am afraid of it. I need my reality, my existance, my Life - to be stronger than my belief*knowledge*strategy of it is.
    *All I know circles my head and floats like pollen... * In a way I am perhaps Lost to knowledge:), but it is somehow good. As funny as it can sound, it feels like me* like home*, because I only feel centered when I *float like pollen*:) I loved so much *G.K.C. notion that the way to love anything is to realize it may be lost*.... I wish I Love that way... myself* and others*.. and this Life* Without always fighting ideas with ideas, trying to put one beautiful*comforting idea (there is no loss) on one sad idea (there is loss). Always persuading myself into mental comfort, instead just letting be comforted – with my stronger existance. *My hands can't hold you, but my breath can*

    Anyway, I really love your fragments. I must say, you went so deep and far, yet are so intimate, that it feels like various dimensions are * Kissing* each other. Where there's a kiss, there is a Home:)
    Love to you and your Loved ones* :)

  8. Hi Zrinka,

    Where there's a kiss, there is a Home indeed!

    Yes, landscapes . . . the whole idea of them has always resonated with me, from a very young age. This idea that the external reflects the internal seems clearest to me when studying the natural landscape - from its butterflies and flowers to its rivers and hills - for we are in it, in a way, and it reflects back to us a beauty and grandeur that we forget. I think when Jesus said "whoever says to this mountain be lifted up and be thrown into the sea and does not doubt but believes in his heart it will be done" was commenting on landscape and our relation to it. When I was little people would ask me to lift my head while walking because they thought I was depressed - or maybe that I ran the risk of running into a wall - but I was always studying landscape, always looking for that place where "I" and "It" meet. I learned that when you give attention to that meeting place, every footfall becomes sacred, and though I have hardly lived my life with such discretion and fidelity, the lesson remains and awaits acceptance.

    Thank you for this: "Notknowing shapes my life. I am eager to take the apple (Idea) from the tree…. only to put it down after exploring it… and then walk away in shame. I resist completely surrendering myself to Life without attaining the right knowledge*awareness – right Idea – and yet I resist every notion of one, right knowledge to hold on to."

    That is very much the dilemma I have fashioned for myself, that I suspect we all do with varying degrees of awareness of it. I remember pushing my students once with these lines of Dickinson - "I have but the power to kill,/Without - the power to die -" and not letting them conclude or arrive at any settled place, but kept pushing them and twisting them, and I realized in the midst of it that such twisting and unsettlement was also my internal condition: there was no peace but only a commitment to educated chaos from which one could yearn for peace, always questioning and commenting and exploring, but never arriving, never really moving, as if that was the whole point: to appear to want love without having to actually say yes to love.

    So, you know, you see it and you see that you see it and then what? Then the pollen must be our teacher perhaps, or the bluets or roses, or maybe the clouds, or the ants . . .

    A few days may pass or a few months or even years and your words are on time and never not welcome.

    Flowers to you and yours as well!


  9. Hey Sean! Yesterday when I posted my response, I saw that – almost at the same time – you posted your new essay on the theme of *Notknowing* (wonderful and helpful, thank you!). I found it somehow important and synchronous, because the response I posted was a shorter version of my longer response in which I was all about how Notknowing shapes my life. Anyway, the main idea of my response was that my disposition is – I Don't Know- and that perhaps it's okay, more than okay, as you would say :) Notknowing is the hardest thing in my life. The challenge I struggle with every day. But it could be the most beautiful thing, it could be a Gift - if I accept it - and see that there is nothing wrong with notknowing :) When I say I Don't Know, --- I honestly Don't Know,----- I've tried so many ideas, but they all fall off me. I have to impose them on myself, otherwise they don't stay. So, I always end up alone, with no idea to hang on to (too long), with notknowing being my best choice and my most honest answer.
    If I hadn't conditioned myself that right Knowledge is one of the most important things in Life, perhaps I wouldn't suffer because of it. This idea of knowledge is my apple that's haunting Eden :)
    But there is a way- a wonderful natural way of things – and sweet irony in it ---- imagine how much will in Notknowing relish the one who never allowed himself to not know? With how much joy he would bring himself and his weary mind to that pond and have a bath :) When he finally does - allow himself to relax :)-- realizing notknowing is his true knowing:) At rest finally.
    I am falling to that. I truly am.
    I do think that desperate search for answers comes out of fear of not - finding*living the right anwser. Out of fear of not being right and good and perfect. Perhaps also out of too much power given to external (truth, agreements), and not enough on internal sense of self-knowing which manifests itself simply as being. There is no *special* knowledge in – happy Living. But we were thought and conditioned otherwise, so it is hard to let go our Lust for knowledge- it is a survival instinct. When it is said – Surrender your Life – it feels exactly that way - kind of scary. It's surrrendering your weapons for survival, and staying blank. Perhaps only with flowers (Bluets:)), realizing you had them all along on you (perhaps on your shirt, where your heart is) and that they were what kept you Alive and Brave and Going, not those other weapons:)
    That is why I say I am Lost to knowledge. Because I realize I will never get it. I will never get special knowledge. Surrender is a relief after ages of fighting - to no peace. When we stay blank, we realize our defeat is our victory, because only then we see that all along we had and have God, in whom there is everything undivided (and knowledge is there :)). If we want Life, we won't spend it on the war battlefield where there is only Death and pain.
    So being Lost to Ideas (to partiality) - could be finding God... Knowledge and learning always move, there is no end. If one wants do something Now (like Live in peace without anxiety), he must decide that he knows enough :) We are never Lost to God, only to our Ideas of him...
    As for landscapes, yes .. we are the mountain.... I do feel that the Meeting of internal and external is somehow infused to your writing .. always.. There is a sense of space... moving.. Love and Grace :) You do make your landscapes sacred*

  10. To all of this I say "yes," hoping to avoid rendering unknowing just another form of knowing (as in "I know that unknowing is the answer").

    Eden, I think, is not haunted by apples but rather is haunted by those who hunt apples . . .

    And wordiness clouds the way, and ellipsis are never not in order . . . Heaven perhaps a lacunae we do not rush to fill . . .

    ~ Sean