Resonant Echoes of Yes

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.

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Little Inclination to Travel

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, why not), 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.

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Confused with a Blessing

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.

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A Place for Your Kiss

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.

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Hunger Eating Itself

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. 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. 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?

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Grains of Salt and Sand

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.

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A Luminous Grace Emerges

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.

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This Fear of Falling

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.

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When I Faltered on the Trail

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 remember what I own and what I do not? 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.

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Unfamiliar Tenderness

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.

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