Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Blurred stars I cannot perceive without the aid of geometry and maybe a dog. Definitely a dog, though that too will pass in time. Snowless fields break beneath my feet, leaving me amazed as always at how readily randomness wears the veils of meaning we offer it. Somebody up north likes me, which is a kind of structure I'm still trying to map for her. In the distance, somebody's cow bellows and I have to stop and remind myself that it isn't 1973. Fix your tractor, keep a good pair of long underwear handy, and don't kiss anybody you can't bring home to your mother. Well, two out of three (one and a half out of three) isn't bad. Her husband comes to mind at odd hours, a genial space (hazy, actually) as misunderstood as she is, for which I can do nothing. The space in the air where earlier a candle burned - is it the same space or just a memory? Disappointment is tangible, but differently than starlight, of which lately I am so enamored. That, too. What does not come and go? How simple can the inquiry be? The resonant echoes of yes through which we discover the undiscoverable self that, in an effort to render itself discoverable, invented pronouns. It's a linguist's world in the end, the rest of us are just commas gazing at both ends of a sentence we didn't ask for.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Sleep - but not redundancy - evades the insomniac, and so at 2 a.m. I go outside to enact a fantasy of starlight falling into my open hands. There is a point at which what happens begins to recede from us, or that is one's sense of it, in those moments when attention is not driven solely by perception of the other's engulfing needs. Stop eating me, is what I often want to say, and also stop using pronouns so literally. The self is a center of narrative gravity mostly, not a causal agent unto itself (or other selves or objects), and this understanding facilitates one's ability to allow the various opportunistic images - starlight, dogs, inner peace, whiskey, cake, justice et cetera - to simply track with neurochemical and biological (material) winds otherwise unnoticeable. Unmentionable? Words are useless before the image, as the image is useless before the underlying agency of Life, which is broadly perceived as a force, or an assemblage of forces (and effects doubling as forces), of which consciousness is merely one, and a dispensable one at that. The dog shows little inclination to travel, though I do head out into frosty fields to maximize darkness and distance, and she follows readily enough. Resignedly? There is no such thing as halfway, just as one does not really depart or arrive, a trippy sort of insight that goes a long way to reducing conflict, if you don't try to make it about God. My perception is that I turn to sex mostly out of boredom (since you can't assess Marder's analysis of supervenience, let's fuck), while wordiness feels truly creative (hence sentences, a joyfully solitudinous enterprise), and clarity - which is naturally the ultimate objective of our penchant (a kind of procreative lust, really) for objectification - is in a real and measurable sense the only orgasm there is. Let's do that again! Chrisoula used to ask if I knew what I was talking about or just talking but now she can tell the difference, hence her frequent variations on the theme of "kindly shut the fuck up." Well, the same old fatigue arrives on schedule, just like a bus, just like an oil change. As the sun emerges over yon horizon I fall into a brief but untroubled sleep, rising a couple or three hours later without design or ambition, and oh what a pleasant silence I can be.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Soft clouds confused with a blessing are quickly subsumed by the goddamn cold. Once again I wore the wrong jacket, once again I am walking into and not with the stubborn wind. Either the God of Good Decisions is a prick generally or I pissed in his chapel and went down on his favorite angel and this is how he pays me back. Sweet Christ, why aren't you here with me when I need you most? Yet where the field dips a little to where I first shot at a deer I remember to open my hands and instantly they are filled with starlight. I'm serious: we are basically monkeys with delusions of grandeur and a knack for language. Up at 4 a.m. now out of habit mostly, though for years it passed as a spiritual practice, a kind of slow dance on a threshing floor colored with blood. Mirror balls, prisms, January ice in sunlight and sunlight on the lake in June. You see a pattern here, don't you? On the other hand, the God of Falling in Love seems to think I'm worth a little something something. Why don't you crawl into my warm nest of blankets and introduce me to your freckles? Let's just make out for a long time and call that home, okay? After I'll bring you coffee and a graham cracker. Let me know indeed.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Hunger and the idea of God emerge in the same body, somewhat simultaneously. A little rain dissuades no chickadees and moss does matter, a reminder for which I was most grateful. In my dreams - which are simply the same old narrative but in free fall - I kept leaning in to kiss you and you kept saying "this is the the last lesson in insistence." Desire gives birth to memory, memory to habit, and habit to a kind of blindness from which all conflict arises. I'm not ready to say yes to dead giraffes, okay? If you believe in God, work with God, and if you don't believe in God, do the work the people who believe in God believe God does. What are we really but monkeys pretending to be starlight? I've got a plan for your hands and a place for your kiss, love. The world loves a wordy lass which goes a long way to explaining my fluency in jealousy. What he should have said was, "thank you for sharing the apple and thank you too for a new way of seeing the garden." Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as outcomes, yet every breath is accounted for, every poem already written. Take me down slow in the light we collectively authored.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
There is this softening now, reflected in sentences that resemble slow rivers, or maybe afternoons in August in the nineteenth century, enfolded slowly by a luminous blue twilight invented by Emily Dickinson. What my fists did no longer matters, all my empties are at the bottom of a certain lake in Vermont, and the dogs I could not save have all forgiven me from their bower over the unsurpassable horizon. Birth is simply the idea "I have a body," while death is "I have lost my body." How little we understand in the end, projecting wisdom onto crows, lovingkindness onto chickadees, and the fear of grace onto her shoulders, breasts and willingness to kneel. What is the world but hunger eating itself in order to live while we slink beneath the table, both craving and terrified of crumbs? We invent God out of fear and hope and the idea proceeds to live in our imagination as love or freedom or grace. Every motion the sea makes is a form of resistance to one who insists on "waves" or "tides" or "beautiful." We are the sheer unwillingness to go down, a non-crisis I have tried to resolve by dropping to my knees as often as possible. Open for me, won't you, and admit with me the one body we are trying so hard to find through pleasure? A little rain falls in Ireland and in India my teacher who chose the form of a woman looks up from jeweled sunlight spackling the Ganges. I dream of my own death, and wake up to yet another departure, yet another day without shoes. You?
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Can we say in the field of attention that the self is a kind of body eclipsing the source of light? That all darkness is self-imposed, even though we are unaware of it as such? How lightly one's gaze rests on the chickadees and how uncontingent the chickadees are in return! The light - Thoreau's "morning star," as it were - forever shines, forever exerts its influence. The dog comes out of the forest limping, and the rain picks up, and what I love is here with me, and what I do not love is here with me too. What else can you say in the end? All my reading ever teaches me is that there really is nothing new under the sun, only varied ways of saying it. Grains of salt and sand abound. The Beloved lifts her head from the pillow to ask when will you at last consent to the joy that naturally inheres in you? Oh, what a ruinous conflagration loneliness is, when what emerges from its flames is what went into them so long ago. I'm begging you: be my undressed pine tree, be my widening gyre.
Monday, December 22, 2014
By afternoon a luminous grace emerges: piano notes fall from the sky as flakes of diamond. One regains a sense of salvational maple over late coffee, studying last year's Christmas tree yet gathering snow where years ago the goats played. Waited? I ate them crying and buried every bone by the old apple tree. How deep the shade becomes when the Beloved meets us in it! The world is a field of graves which means we are forever encompassing silence, forever heeding the familiar dusky whisper. Follow me follow me. Anyway, it all arises now, over and over a sweetness I only sometimes indulge. I remember once talking and she said, sooner or later those fences are going to have to come down. Even now I study them, leaning in the pasture like the rest of us, a little more every year. Stars are falling, darling, they are eating the miles between us with their vast hot and fiery mouths.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
You wake from dreams of expanding graveyards, a little smile playing on your lips and think, what? The dog leads me into fields abutting the old feeder pond which I've been avoiding since falling last week for fear the slick ice will send me toppling yet again which my back cannot bear. "Your core is compromised," F. said as we watched Sophia work the new horse and I was so fascinated by the concept I had to wander away in order to be quiet, in order to think it over. Actually, you can't say you're a body or a mind. No stars, no moon which for some reason makes me reconsider wordlessness. What I wouldn't give . . . The rooster offers up his throaty howl before the sun is even close to rising, reminding me yet again how unproductive the masculine inclination can be. It's worth remembering that silence precedes and in a sense allows for language. Foxes are red and, for me anyway, always female and usually fatal. A little snow falls, refusing description. In another life I will marry a sculptor and sweep her studio every evening and in the morning bring her tea before she works. In this one, there's this wordiness, there's this falling and this fear of falling, and there's this coming home in darkness in order to start again.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
The dog and I go out at 2 a.m. and right away the stars demand that I stop thinking and worship them. They are like cats, or certain women I've known. And what can you do but fall to your knees? Honestly, it's a relief sometimes to set aside my inherent wordiness and rest a little in the relative silence. How many times do I have to write "kiss her where she is softest" before I remember it's way more fun and productive to just shut up and go down on her? When I think of all the motels I've stayed in, and all the hostels, and all the train stations and park benches . . . After a while you stop thinking in terms of who's naked and who's not and just fantasize about a good night's sleep. Jeremiah asks about certain scratches and gouges on my guitar - the one he's not allowed to play for now - and they all have a story, some of which I can't tell him yet. Or am I just not ready to remember? I think about that near the bottom of the hill, listening to the brook, hoping I don't fall going back like I did the other day. I made some promises in Ireland, I left a couple of photographs in France. "When's the last time you played a Woody Guthrie song sober?" There was always something special under the blankets, even if the blankets were thin and wet with dew. It was nice to see the stars after and it still is, even without the solace of whiskey. When I write, the dog curls up next to me. What happened was a long time ago the moon swallowed me whole. What happened was a black bear said I could follow him and when I faltered on the trail, he waited. I left the church but stole the altar and gave it away to anyone who would listen, the only way I know. Sentence by sentence, song by song, poem by intimate poem. You're never more alone than in starlight, my dear. This one is for you, again.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Wind begets an unfamiliar tenderness: kids coughing after midnight, the dog limping through pasture, and piles of books breaking old shelves. How exhausted one becomes in the field and hollow of metaphor! Snow before dawn hides the stars and I stumble as always, bereft of a useful compass. You can't weave a quilt from the idea of threads, and wordiness is just a tantrum seen another way. Falsehood by falsehood we reinvent the dark. Thoreau's delusion remains my fixed North, while Dickinson's grace is a kind of swallowed yellow. Be my stable, be my salty yes. The nineteenth century still sheds a welcome light. The old river runs its banks, indifferent to monks who confuse themselves with sand bags.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Down below the old homestead I slip and fall - rare enough - and slide down Harvey Road a good twenty feet or so. The dog comes over to check but moves on quickly. We're all okay, despite so much evidence to the contrary. Rain and more rain and yet cold enough on the gravel that it turns to ice at 4 a.m. Deepening a kind of going down? Or going down a kind of opening? Well, kisses where they matter most, let's say that. Sometimes it seems I've been laying in snowbanks for lifetimes, staring up into the sky, blinking through tears or whatever watery trickle attends those crippled in love. Be my unshakable walking stick, be my naked crutch! Whiskey helps, or helped, and also meeting women I wasn't supposed to meet, one or two of whom brought their own bottle and sang their own sad songs. There is always a hairpin turn ahead, one that we need to take slowly, and always someone who will tell us a story about what happens to those who don't. I spent many years waiting on stars, those blistery symbols of the interior lantern, and for what? Travel is relative - east and west contingent inside the directionless whole - and crows will tear any map to pieces, no matter how badly you think you need it. We're not lost, we're home. We're not fallen, we're floating. You'll see. After all, you were the one who lifted me.
Monday, December 15, 2014
What a hill remains to be climbed! And thank Christ! Or so I think a few hours after midnight, stopping every few feet to enjoy joy, clouds muting the faroff sky, the dog staying close, her hind legs trembling. You go so far and then further becomes a habit. As my dead drunk uncles would say, "the seeker dissolves in cheap whiskey." Or in the very search itself, lit by faint moonlight and attended by old dogs who maybe don't need to travel anymore. I survived this much, might as well endure a little more. When you bring me coffee I can't stop staring at your shoulders. My broken heart reassembles every noon and sings a plaintive song called "I Wish I Knew A Plaintive Song." Division abounds until we perceive that within which it divides and then it doesn't. It was always thus - it just took me a while to see it.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
An icicle is the sun another way, as snow reimagines the blue in which I am always famously composing. This sentence unfolds within both me and you, very much the way all those cardinals work their way from our hearts through our throats to the light. Call it a poem, call it a song, call it a motel room in Albany strung with soft kisses. Some telephones never ring and some bottles of wine gather dust forever in otherwise empty cellars. Tractor is simply the way I can say right now I believe there are no tractors and no fields and no farmers harvesting crops. Terrified of sipping - which is to say terrified that even the little I have will be taken away - I take you in gulps, insisting on naked, my hands on your shoulders, all of you opening to all of me now. Those snowy expanses behind the house glisten as the chalky moon works its way west. What a confused and meandering love letter I am! What a lovely envelope you make, tackling the miles as if they were real.
Friday, December 12, 2014
The blue light of which we are all composed resolves itself in form and then goes on. Understanding is simply the illusion that calms the surface beyond which we perceive the absence of depth, any depth at all. Ask what passes, learn what does not. At 3 a.m. beneath pine trees a few flakes of snow are visible in moonlight. Near the shoulder of what I am for now (or seem to be) a chickadee murmurs. The suggestion is that herons are enough, or that one can take a black bear for a teacher, or sit a long time learning how the sea invents the horizon and how the horizon is just longing seen another way. Let go, let go. The Hardy Boys taught me that investigation matters. Dungeons and Dragons taught me the importance of remembering that mirrors need a source of light to work and are not themselves the source of light. The dog goes out into the field and comes back. Clouds cover the moon and pass and the moon remains and passes. Remains and passes does not change. Between this and that, word by word, all that ever was I am.
we cannot abandon
we cannot abandon
what we do not know -
yesterday's poem about chickadees
in today's falling snow
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
A sinking feeling lately that there is neither beginning nor end, mostly in the sense that one climbs a mountain only to discover the one who arrives at the windy peak is the same one who left the drizzly base camp. In my dream Chrisoula is knitting a sock and says casually "well, what did you expect?" Or was that this morning over tea? Yes, it was this morning over tea except I was drinking coffee, or trying to. You will nail me to that cross or I will nail myself damn it! Pronouns beg the question and are no real help in getting to the answer. Resurrected butterflies abound. Lately too a sense of being tortured by images (see preceding sentence or just get naked and face a mirror), largely without consent or - perhaps better to say - wanting to withdraw consent but not knowing how. How confused one can become after "yes!" You think you're a something - anything - a self with a pedigree and a multi-volume narrative still being composed maybe - and it's that at which you grasp or try not to grasp, when in fact peace is simply clarity with respect to the fact that there is no thinker thinking anything so grasping or not grasping never enters into it. The truth is I'm fixing a tractor for my dead drunk uncles. All morning in an icy rain shoring up the north foundation getting angrier by the second. The truth is, words fail me but I keep thinking it's the other way around and so I go on with the guilt, go on thinking "just one more poem, just one more sentence." I mean look: the limbs of the old dogwood tree are heavy with ice and reach for the ground, uttering the perennial "enough." The truth is, I wish I was the one who opened, who allowed their love to enter, whose folds were the ground in which the wanderer came home.
I am blind
Take my hand
I am blind
in the bright tent
our bodies make
Take my hand
so we can enter
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Rigorous passivity. Or something like that. Passive attention in a sustained way? Well, my breath does leave me slowly, floating in silver clouds towards faint stars and an even fainter moon, nearly lost in clouds of its own way over there by the neighbor's. Wood smoke vs. a promise of rain vs. a deserted rabbit warren come to unexpectedly. The dog is energetic but stays close, as these days she tends to, and from time to time I whisper her name, which is a way of saying yes. It's too early to be out walking, as skunks and deer are only too happy to remind me, but what can you do but what you can do? None of us are objects, and yet objects abound. When the owl cries I stop to listen, as if there were an answer one could give outside the non-traversable landscape. We go far enough to hear the brook, the hollow sound it gets when ice begins accumulating and then turn back. I am never far from the idea of bells, and the nineteenth century is hardly an afterthought. In the drafty back room I eschew coffee and just write. What a drama, all these umbrellas fretting what will happen to them now it's winter. The more words the better, I say, setting yet another log on the oldest fire I know.
Wordiness unbound, attention relieved of tension, and waking too late to walk the dog during shotgun season. Deer breathe in snowy glades, their undulating flanks the color of burlap. Not for the first time do I consider reinvigorating my interior correspondence with Gertrude Stein, the brilliant but strange aunt nobody wants to claim. At the end of her mountain of a life she asked "what is the question" and then went silent, relatively silent. Sentences of the eighteenth century, especially Cooper's, forever resound in my head, urging me in the direction of transcendent gestures. "At length the sun set in a flood of glory, behind the distant western hills, and as darkness drew its veil around the secluded spot the sounds of preparation diminished; the last light finally disappeared from the log cabin of some officer; the trees cast their deeper shadows over the mounds and the rippling stream, and a silence soon pervaded the camp, as deep as that which reigned in the vast forest by which it was environed." The forest found us, and has not yet left us, is a better way to say it. Well, who doesn't love the sound of their own voice? Whatever arises is already here and so the idea of control is laughable, or would be if it weren't also the source of so much grief and conflict. Into your arms I would fall, beloved! Meanwhile, squirrels decorate the dogwood tree and chickadees abound. You can't have ice without water, or Buddhas without suffering, or pancakes for breakfast without sharing, thank Christ.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
One scraggly rooster picking his way through the roots of winter lilac. And rain, and rain clouds, and a slush that is neither snow nor rain but gray itself in freezing clumps. Gray as a condition of the weather, yet interiorly - still sick, still tired, still unable to put the sentences together - one is gray as well, whatever that means. You can't ask a crow anything because they are joyful liars by nature, knowing full well that truth is whatever they say it is, because at that precise moment, what else could it be? Anyway, my appetite is for words primarily, not information. Also, the generative nexus between word and image matters more than either word or image. Relationship is causative but also effective, according to the many collectives binding us. We are not here to learn but to recognize, can I say it that way? Hence you, hence us. Hence poetry, or at least this poem, not unlike that pile of wood out back which I have never get around to burning. Fire is an art I have studied closely which renders me not masculine but good to have around when it's cold. You can't insist on cardinals. You can only feel what you feel when - briefly or otherwise - they appear.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
In December the moon is further North than one expects; I have to turn and look over my shoulder to see it. "There it is," I say to the dog, who is already across the road, nose to the ground, tracking something - skunk probably, maybe another dog - through the yet-snowy field, and doesn't listen. And isn't that how it goes? Elaborate metaphors serve primarily themselves and secondarily their makers, hence my continued interest in our shared liberation from texts that are complicated only because simplicity scared the hell out of the author. You know who you are. Chrisoula comes in around midnight to ask between my hacks and sniffles if I need anything, and I can't answer - for once I can't answer - because what is there to say except I'm always scared when I'm sick? Weakness of any kind has always frightened me, owing to an early (and regrettably enduring) lesson that who cannot bear suffering is not beloved of God. How many Golgothas must we pass on the way to grace? On the other hand, raw garlic, lots of water with cider vinegar and lemon, boiled chicken and broth, the kids coming in with poems and pictures . . . Being is simple - the simplest thing there is really - and yet by virtue of thought we have removed ourselves from it, a sleight-of-mind that brings us no end of grief. Insomnia is in part a consequence of how happy any night makes me - the stars and the moon, the silence, the owls and coyotes who make the silence deeper. What can you say in those moments but "me too?" I write not because there is anything to say - there isn't really - but because when I don't it's too much slippage outside whatever yes composes joy. I'm saying tired but not too tired. I'm saying scared but getting less so all the time.