Sunday, August 16, 2015

One Way You Say It

Half a dozen cups of coffee through which silence strains like sorrow in the nineteenth century and then it's morning. C. rolls over and we touch the way you do when it's not about touch (well, not just about touch). Two days running now the cardinal avoids the feeder or else decomposes in a fox's belly or is memory itself a sieve? Are you gone truly? One asks for it. Hunger terrifies me, as all appetites terrify me, and so the world remains. Or do I return to it? I still arch a little, kissed just so, and it makes us laugh. Perhaps joy is predictable, awakening mechanical. Her hand on my shoulder directs me and I flow - or follow - accordingly. Actually, I never leave but stumble on like a moose through snowdrifts, both wordy and wordless, a pilgrim who can't remember where he came from, much less where he's going. Fran offers a deal on oxen, reigniting the old fantasy of working all day with an ax in the woods. Whispering while moaning, knowing the way, enfolded by her a loveliness. It's important to say no sometimes too. Yes? Reciprocity, inclusivity. Ideals. You know how the parts crumble to reveal the whole. I hold her hair back, grateful as always, and as always a little amazed. Trust what works? Trust the gift being given? You have to see how the winter maple somehow contains the potential for green, and how green is never not contemplating the dark. Patiently we learn to follow, becoming less and less reliant on notes, ours or anyone else's. Urgent kisses after, salty and full, for the one who holds us, or holds the light. Shares the way? Well, I am happy and this is how you say it - this is one way you say it - at last.

Across the Mapless Landscape

How hard it is to bear her kindness for even a little while! I stumble through a half-lit morning, convinced there's a right prayer - a secret prayer - and I don't know it. Yet somewhere a train rumbles down tracks overlooking a river, and somewhere a heron strikes the silver anvil of a pond killing fish, and somewhere further yet a woman bends her head in prayer in a dim midwestern poustinia. Oh, Christ, what I wouldn't give to have nothing to give! And Christ what sequence of poems must I utter - what transparently holy supplication must I make - to at last go wordless through the yet more wordless dark? How slowly the lessons come! How faintly the hymn begins where chickadees wake up in bowers of sunlit pine! The duty of the moment begs my attention, and I try to say yes, despite this greed and this hunger and lust. For I love the cross, and the nails and the thorns, and the long shadow it throws across the mapless landscape, everyone kneeling in its rivers of whiskey and blood. If you were here I would open you, hold you hard, over and over, and cry out against your throat, and rise and plead with the Maker of Saints to forgive me, fulfill me, and then fall again to your thighs, that landscape, that openness, forever seeking the emptiness that blesses the one whose love is spent, who has nothing left. Bring me your mouth - I will fill it with stars - mine has turned now to dust.

A Dark Landscape Nobody Else Crosses Anymore

Let's get one thing clear: there is no separation. Not between you and that crocus, or you and your ex-husband, or you writing and me writing, or you and the way I want to see you naked. It helps to remember that countless situations are inherent - implicit - in any given one, but we always know which one we are presently experiencing. Yes? She falls to her knees and we can't believe our luck. Or did we do something to merit it? Her attention, her kindness, the gift of her over and over. Well, somebody is always kissing somebody - that's one way to think about it. Surely there are others. Often when the dog suggests we turn back I hesitate - as if some internal clock can only be wound by pushing my body further and further into a dark landscape nobody else crosses anymore. Yet I miss sleeping, and cherish rest, despite my insistence it remain elusive. Closer to six - yielding to something that is not love but a kind of fear I am no longer willing to fear looking at - I crawl back into bed, notwithstanding hours of writing, a couple cups of coffee, and the studied yearning that continues to argue it can only be met somewhere between my addiction to comfort and the sound your shirt makes falling to the floor. Am I imagining things? What I wouldn't give to be a birch tree right now, or whatever roses are in late winter in New England - a bloom unblooming, a luminous potential. An opening? Or am I? At last perhaps to enter, enter and be welcome. I mean You, only You.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Wordy Engagement

The skunk wanders in circles, soft and luminous in the darkness, not unlike the way I imagine making love to you will be, or would have been, were I more inclined to travel and you somewhat less bothered by your weight. It's not summits I'm after but movement itself. Hardship doesn't bother me, most kinds anyway, nor long hours alone where nobody ever goes. Horses step carefully over stones to reach the low sweet clover. How strange nearing fifty to succumb finally to the welter of not-knowing that has so long been nibbling at my toes! Images abound, and strains of a submerged melody awaiting formal composition, and also an old but still pleasing obsession with apples and orchards. Walking around the yard naked at midnight, beyond caring. Who hungers, lives. As if a little flame really does suffice. What do you see when you close your eyes? Whatever I don't say is what will haunt you most unfortunately. Morning coffee, the wordy engagement, and a thought that maybe it is time to look somewhere other than after my father.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

All the Orphans

Beach stones dry by the clothesline, the cardinal comes closer than ever, and I am almost ready to let that red and black winter hunting jacket go. Can you feel me when I breathe, as I feel you? The prism is my teacher, not of beauty as I so long thought, but of method. What passes, passes. When I walk now, there is one who walks beside me, gently sifting the streams of light, affording grace the home we are to each other, both in and out of time. Atonement is the blank scroll unraveling. Meanwhile, the ruby-throated hummingbird studies me in the lawn chair, a favor I return with love, and thus we are together absolved of the futility inherent in any horizon. Oh longing, you are the bright streamer that attaches me to the world! What would I say to you that I would not say to the darkness? This? That? The rose bush falters, but life itself does not, and in that knowledge we are married and call all the orphans home.

The Rain Before It Falls

And the dog leaves first, the mattress sighing, soft patter of claws against hardwood going away. Once upon a time, typewriters. Thunder started a long way off - first in dreams, then in the dream - and one sat by the window to listen, falling suddenly back when a blast of lightening struck just above the neighbor's barn. Oh what the hash knife leaves in its wake! I hear the rain before it falls, or rather hear it coming from the west like a soft but steady wind and marvel at it because I like to marvel. This silence, this solitude, this act of service, this self that is no-self and knows it. Yet later padding softly through the house naked to close windows and wonder who else is awake or will awaken and what then. How fast the rain passes! Yet lightening lingers on the horizon, now and again, strains of a melody one is only just now longing to to remember. It's fine to wait and see what happens, it is. Alone is what I am and what I remain, at least for now, and that's okay too. It's more than okay. It is.

In Search of a Certain Stand

Moonlight falls on the skunk's back while I wander afield in search of a certain stand of thistle. It's nice to walk, and hard to find something when you're happy just looking. She would want to know what purple looks like in the moonlight, which is not precisely the reason I am out here at 2 a.m., but what do I know about motive, really? The one who is not here goes with me, a paradox I decline to be haunted by, and yet return to again and again, a hawk to its gyre, eye to the horizon, and so forth. Chrisoula telling me at the bottom of the hill, I don't need the metaphor, I need the fucking truth. When the skunk hisses suddenly I stop walking. We're closer than we should be, me and this skunk, and stay that way a good two or three minutes, a long time as long times go, facing off in the luminosity of a so-called blue moon, the last for several years. Finally, I give up and turn for home, mostly because the skunk was here first, and also because I forgot why I came. Only in the front yard, resting on the stairs and waiting for the dog to come back do I remember. Oh yes - thistle in the moonlight. Oh well. It's a good life, or a good enough life, and I really shouldn't complain and mostly don't. Though later, trying to fall back to sleep before the rooster starts his raucous howling, I think: I really did want to see it, the thistle in moonlight, and what else opens lovingly in the dark just so.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bluets and Stars

The world is not gentle. How many times can I say it? The old dog will no longer enter the forest so we sit together in the side yard before dawn, waiting on the light. Bluets and stars, fireflies and mail. That which arises in the body comes and goes and nothing is ever enough. How terrified I have always been of hunger! Yet Being is not contained by the body, a fact recoverable only after one relinquishes the inclination to learn and improve and become. Then, between rain drops, a chickadee can be heard, and later in Watts Brook, a pair of beavers glide slowly away at dusk. What never left must be here, as what was Given is forever giving. The fear you feel as the Kingdom reveals itself was predicted, and you need only let it pass. I go slowly through our days, folding blankets and baking bread, as wordy as helpfulness requires. We did not make the wind, nor the trees through which it flows, but what joy to give attention thereby! Quarter moon at twilight, lilac florets falling. Can you hear it now, the whispered yes?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Accidents

What are the owls carrying on about at 4:30, their cries echoing back and forth through misty woods on either side of the brook which smells oddly - or is it me - of smoke. Meanwhile an unspecified ache in my right side keeps me leaning ever so slightly left, not entirely distracting me from a lifelong - but recently intensifying - study of birch trees. Such loveliness always right before us! And what are books but reflections of experience? What are kisses but happy accidents of biology? I don't know - I really don't - and who cares anymore anyway. The dog is content with Spring, rolling in fox scat, drinking from puddles, going mostly ahead of me like in the old days. I keep thinking how we won't be here soon enough, the two of us together, and it's okay. More and more death just feels like a letter falling out of an envelope, or a breeze stirring yellow curtains above the sink in my aunt's kitchen in 1972. God is the story we tell ourselves until we grow up enough to face the dark without narrative. What a mess we've made of chickens, broadly speaking, and don't get me started on Africa or the Republican party. The flip side of all this solitude and interior focus is a yearning for money and hot sex in motels. I'd do it if I could handle it but I can't, not anymore. I'm not even sure I remember how. Yesterday I cleared a little deadfall from the trail and went down to the clearing where I still hope someday to build a little hut in which to write and read and tend responsible fires. The owls never stop warning against you which is gratifying, in its way. Look closely and see how the forest is in motion, slowly but perpetually. That is the lesson and the only one we need! Thank Christ for the many dogs who have never not helped me see it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Glades I Will Never Enter

One day the dog and I won't walk and then what? Then someone else will love the world this way of course. The man without shoes with a dog is nothing new! Thus a last star, a lavender sky, and thus leafless lilac. But not only that. Unkempt lawns, crumbling trails in the forest, and the yet-damp bank of the fire pond. When you open for me, I see the tracks of deer bearing witness to glades I will never enter. Nor seek to enter, not anymore. Rusted sap buckets, maple shadows scaling walls in need of paint. We dream we live by images until at last we consent to see otherwise. In my hands, wintered-over amethyst accepts both dust and sunlight. Garter snakes coil where the daffodils are late to bloom. Gifts? Not really. More like Giving, always, "in perpetuity" as the priests say, but also the willingness to say yes to it, as the earth says yes to what passes, without really worrying over why or what to call it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Requisite Forgetting

Can I say I don't know? The pine trees are just there in the darkness. And reflected light makes me happy and always has. Maple buds blush across the landscape, red whether the sun is up or not. Nobody has to see anything in order to see everything. I walk slowly, giving the killdeer time to think, and grateful for the spaciousness that holds me, never rushing me into surrender or insight. Way out on old logging trails on the ridge above the river, I rest on a log and study stars. There is the inclination to name what we perceive, there is the process of naming, and then there is a requisite forgetting. Letting go? Oh, I don't know and more and more I can't be bothered to say. A sliver of moon breaks the horizon and I hear the wind flowing roughly north and west. "What a beautiful song," I think, and for a moment am emptied and go nowhere eternally.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Altogether Welcome

Sleet and a little wind. Town trucks growl in the distance, plows banging the icy hardtop, and the dog for once agrees to go deeper into the forest due south. I stumble near the fire pond, grabbing a pine bough to right myself, but still slip down the icy bank to my knees in freezing water. Well, some mornings are like that. There are stars out there, and daffodils. There are blankets that will never cover my shoulders. What can we do when we perceive at last the fullness of what we will never do, never taste, never hold? The work is always internal, yet a radiant world begs for attention. We project the wound, call ourselves healers and thus become travelers, aliens in our own home. The little I have to offer shrinks even further, the way envelopes curl before burning in the stove. All is ash and sorrow and still. Even though my feet ache I wait a good half hour before turning back to ensure the trucks aren't working roads the dog will use getting home. We are here to be kind, and to let what happens happen, and to learn there is nothing to learn, and that only we can learn it. So yes. A gray light rises, altogether welcome. And yes. The dog sleeps, and dreams, and the dreams pass. All of us really, together.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Looking for a Boat

The far field opens. You think you can't be more broken and at 4 a.m. you are, again. These days I can't say is it moonlight flowing through me or am I the flow only just now noticing itself? I stumble near the cattail, fall to my knees, and cry - quiet sobs the dog comes back to check on. How hard we struggle! How vicious our insistence on personal loneliness and grief! I cry so hard and long I think someone somewhere must be looking for a boat. Yet after, I stretch across the snow to study the blurred sky, and the familiar words come. What remains? The journey isn't an accumulation of steps, nor arrival at some distant destination, but rather every step itself unto itself. How faithful I am to 4 a.m.! And all because all I know is that a single moment of true joy cleanses lifetimes of tears. I didn't ask for this - and will not be here when it ends - but still. The vastness and readiness of what wants only to hold me . . . What else can I speak of now? What else could you possibly want to hear?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Working on a Song

The old dog turns back but I don't - can't - and some mornings are like that. Held up by crusty snow all the way out to the old fire pond, herons on my mind, and the sudden clarity of stars which is a kind of insistence, a kind of loveliness that - I am only just seeing this - does not lift me but rather asks to be lifted. Is that right? Ideas of beauty are weights to be borne? Well, maybe. One does grow tired of thinking and the way that language seems to endlessly classify the undivided given. Gertrude Stein remains a radiant proctor! Poking along the shore I find a fire ring (cold to the touch) and few dozen beer cans, which make me tired for reasons I am on longer obligated to share. What folly the pine trees are witness to! And yet how patiently they go on growing, as if the sky and the earth were not separate at all, but mutual benefactors working on a song. Back at the road, the old dog was sitting quietly, waiting without waiting, and I spoke to her in low tones as we walked home together. "Love is the easiest thing/& uncontingent on a ring." For a long time emptiness was a risk I could not face, but now it is simply the way being sifts, here and there, coming and going, never altogether this or that. I am saying: ask what longs to be expressed. Express that.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Seven Miles Alone

A little rain at 2 a.m., not enough to discourage walking, that particular loveliness. I stand beside snow banks dissipating in buffets of warm air and consider again the sadness with which I am so intimate. A glimpse again of what is always given away, thankfully. Lovers come and go across the exterior landscape: train whistles, pickups, owl feathers, dogs. When you don't write, the emptiness I once tried to fill with you yawns and howls. I can't keep calling it a prayer, and I'm tired of trying to explain that "God" is only a word. "You" is a pronoun that divides the collective yearning to know itself at last as whole and okay. A cup of coffee, the dog wandering from window to window, and writing. Writing writing. My tiredness is nothing, and my jealousy is nothing, and my joy is nothing too. Let pass what passes and give attention to what stays. I walked seven miles alone yesterday, from the front steps through open fields to the bank of a river I hadn't seen in months. Of course it was still there, and the crows were there, and the red-winged blackbirds, and every thought I ever had. You see? Let Jesus be now. Let the Buddha be. We come back slowly from the old haunt, body by confused body, amazed at how simply the knot untangles.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Seeing New Englandly Alone

Not quite three and the dog and I leave the house, quietly so as not to waken the others. A softness stops me on the stairs: the sound of the brook in Spring freshet stops me. When is the sky not filled with ten thousand stars? When is the maple tree not a response to sun and earth and water? I walk slowly on a rough line mostly east, happier than I can say with the spongy road beneath me. She studies the bayou in a country that terrifies me, and I shoulder what I must to keep looking at it. When you find a resonant language, learn it, and when it directs you to a space beyond language (which it must), set it aside and go. In the photograph, she is looking down at something, aware of her beauty, but sad as well, and you have to choose: one or the other. My feet are cold despite my shoes. The work now is not to place myself anywhere, not to exclude any landscape. I mean, don't covet the relationship and don't enter into it as it is offered, when the offer is merely an extension of your own projected needs. Oh for the one who understands this, and oh for the one has no fear at 3 a.m., and oh for the one beside whom I grow still at last. Desire broke me at the crossroads, so it's come to this: stumbling and muttering a half-remembered prayer: seeing New Englandly alone. We come back slowly, a single star flickering when and where the clouds part. It will rain soon. It will be light soon, too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Along the Warm Ridge

Some roads are longer than others. Some paths. And at night the moon seems to move slowly through certain swathes of sky, while you can imagine the stars singing sad songs like those from France in the early twentieth century. Each note lasts at least a thousand years. Maybe you can't ask a bird to leave a bread crumb alone - and sooner or later we all have to sleep in an unfamiliar clearing, blankets covered in frost. There are lonelinesses I still ask for, and women who provide them, as surely as cardinals are sure of red. Well, we are all trying, or so I tell myself at 3 a.m., studying drifts of snow in faint-and-growing-fainter moonlight. How tired I am of my inclination to praise, and how tired I am of pretending to be interested in what has never held my attention, and how tired I am of pretending anyone is broken. Travelers come and go across the exterior landscape while we rest in God. Can I say it that way and mean it? At last? Coming in later for tea, sitting with the dog by a south-facing window. It's never about us only, is perhaps the hardest lesson to learn. How happy I am - briefly - to be alone in the dark, my fingers trailing slowly along the warm ridge of her spine.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dreams I Can Only Imagine

Well, I decline the invitation and end up just sitting in bed like an old man, reading and writing at 2 a.m., happy enough, actually more than happy, while the old dog dozes and farts her way through dreams I can only imagine. Would it have been different if - when briefly drawing the curtain - there was either moonlight or stars? Yet by morning more snow is falling - fat flakes mixed with tiny flakes - not driven so much as lazy - as in "we'll get there when we get there" - and my back aches extra in anticipation of shoveling but so what. The coffee tastes pretty damn good and for once I'm not a bunch of guys writing but just this one guy. As a matter of fact, I will have a burger with those fries, and also extra fries. Rereading Faraday's The Chemical History of A Candle, which prompts Chrisoula to say "I bet he was a lot of fun in the dark," to which there is clearly a subtext but not one I immediately understand, being more Faradayish than not. Also Husserl's Introduction to Transcendental Phenomenology while taking notes, which Chrisoula understands means don't interrupt, don't make jokes. You can't head North forever! Christ it's a lot of work doing nothing, getting nowhere.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Insistence Itself

One wants to declare the parts matter, or retreat somehow to a polished shell (turtles, always turtles), or simply be paid a decent wage to live in a cottage and "read until the end." The monastic fantasy is only problematic when we decline to examine the underlying projection. Otherwise, why not? What happens in the river is up to the river but that doesn't mean we aren't participants, or presents maybe. The one way to say it matters, is perhaps one way to say it but I am starting to see there are others. Persephone at last understood as a mode of insistence not on cycles or seasons or greenery but on insistence itself. This vs. that. Nobody is going anywhere but on the other hand it sure is nice to be busy. Thank Christ for writing, which is optional of course, but still. You want to have something to say, even if it doesn't need to be said. Thus this. Thus what passes, passing.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

One Struggles, One Does

The dreamless sleep is most helpful in terms of examining the requisite metaphysics (of attention, awareness, et cetera). What is reality when we are not aware of it? Am I only conscious of elephants when I see them/read about them/think about them? Or is consciousness the whole, regardless of our piecemeal methods? And so forth. Oh! What is Spring when I am on my knees in the snow? Clouds care nothing for the moon they obscure, as the moon is alive - or subject to entropy anyway - but not sentient, or "sentient differently" as I put it from certain corners (albeit ones I visit less and less). Certain adults in my life used to say "there's more where that came from," a sentiment I now associate mainly with scientists. We are never finished, in the strict sense that one cannot know what one doesn't know. Humility is almost never a bad idea, though one struggles, one does. February is a kind of darkness, while happiness - even the shallow kind, which is to say the wordy kind, which is to say, the only kind I can manage - is a kind of light. Even a forty watt bulb can put a lonesome heart at ease! Meanwhile, vast assemblies of snow silence Watts Brook, yet in another sense I can hear it still - and do - which explains perhaps this enduring, this fructive relationship with quietude.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Dog to the North

Three a.m. or a bit earlier I lean on the shovel and smile, feeling temporarily clear and silent, precisely the way I didn't in those days of whiskey and lost women who welcomed me to their travels. What a storm in which to be so happy! Is it the end of confusion or something else entirely? When clearly what so long counted as error no longer does. You have to let go of everything, including the idea that you have to let go of everything. And yet I never get tired of saying it! Every snowflake seems to be possessed of its own wild desire, welcoming ecstatically that which it alights upon - shoulders, tree limbs, drifts of blowing snow. I hear the dog to the North, just past the barn, her tags ringing in the susurrating dark. This life is enough simply because it literally asks nothing of us. When we see this unconditional being - clearly, unequivocally, without writing anything else onto or into it - then peace does indeed flow exactly like a river. But you know this and you know you know this! So? Sew buttons! I push a little more snow into the rising banks, grateful for the dream of hot tea just beginning to emerge. Throw a little more water in the soup! There's no thin broth you can't enliven, just by coming around. As for me, I can't stop smiling, which makes me laugh. A real laugh - a belly laugh. Maybe you heard, all the way out in the forest. Even now - lifetimes later, a thousand lifetimes later - I am still only this acquiescence, this softening, I am this going nowhere alone.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Unraveling At Such A Dizzy Pace

The dog and I go out at 3 a.m. expecting frigidity but it's not so bad or maybe I'm dressed right for once. Well, you do what you can, and let entropy handle the rest, which it always does. I slip a little here and there, mostly while squinting for the moon, which isn't even a perceptible blur behind all these clouds promising snow. The forest creaks and moans and half a mile into it I start wishing I'd worn thicker socks, which pleases me in the sense that I still sometimes fall for that old lie about suffering. But also, I am ready now to be happy, even if I can't say how, even if I can't say with who. Such a strange life to lead, unraveling at such a dizzy pace no matter how much you try to manage it! It eats whatever meaning you toss it, as if hunger were not a virtue, as if there weren't these many details, each more extravagant than the last. Keep it simple I tell myself as we turn back, watched by owls, studied by deer. If you are lost then follow a dog is one way to look at it but I know now there are others. If you think you can hold my attention - if you believe there is something you can offer - then by all means bring it. We are at that juncture where hesitation begets no grace. I am setting the table with two spoons and two bowls, I am sitting up at odd hours, lonesome but vigilant, learning how to tend the tiny fire given all of us.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lanterns when Candles will Do

A clarity of dreaming such that I awoke briefly answered, knowing only that what is given must be given care, and naturally - thusly - gives itself away. The dog stretches beside me, both of us bearing a memory of hard winds at 4 a.m., or possibly we are yet borne by those winds. One is never more here than when remembering from whence they came. Stop obsessing about the terms and conditions of arrival, the old dog says during one of his visits from the vale of awareness where he lately resides, possibly forever young. Often we turn to lanterns when candles will do, and candles when it is critical to sit quietly in the darkness, unafraid of loving without an object. You are writing the song for me now, and despite my stubbornness and lack of elegance and resistance to grace, I am grateful, very grateful. Rivers, starlight, cardinals, bread. Setting the symbols aside, what remains? I met you in that emptiness, and we walked a little, and we are walking there still, and the walk is opening to other walkers, too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Little Fire

Look, if you don't want to write, don't. Who cares? The chickadees are still fluttering around the winter feeder; the cardinal is still preening on the north-facing fence. So I want to see you naked, so what? So you are trying to grade papers and write your poems and make your own suet for the feeder. It's okay that you think you are failing. It's okay that you can't sleep. I don't want you to be anything you don't want to be. I don't want you on your knees if it's not a prayer and I don't want you to sing where silence is a better choice. You tell me you can't find your way. You tell me you're lost - that the cities are empty, the plains smoking, and the moon fallen deep into the sea. It's okay. You can stumble around in the snow for lifetimes, forgetting why you set out in the first place. It's okay. I have this little fire, I have this cup of tea. I am waiting in this hole in the mountain. Come closer now and rest. Rest in my arms, that I might rest in yours. My love, my savior, my red-within-red, do you see how the cave mouth shines?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Unfamiliar Ocean

In my dream he said to give you the gift of silence, and then we talked a bit about his decision to move west which left me with Tara Singh. Snow as the light fails, leaving only a little time to write yet another poem for the chickadees. What a thorny nest we make when we insist on perception! The 1970s left their mark internally, mainly in the way I conceive of Heaven as a disco and God as a sexually passive Greg Brady. Jesus doesn't care, being dead these many centuries. At least we can share the historic burial shroud. Attention, awareness, consciousness . . . what a vocabulary we have to learn and unlearn just to learn the whole loveliness of what is always empty! In fact, now and then I do go back to put my arms around the lost ones, but you are not lost - you are demanding old prerogatives from an altar we disassembled lifetimes ago. Sell all your jewelry and give the proceeds to the poor. Visit an unfamiliar ocean. Let the moonlight find you naked and perfect as I know you now to be. The silence is beautiful and whole my love. Stop decorating it with your ideas of me and see at last the light. Me, too.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In Winter My Ax Rests

I don't leave the broken rocking chair. The icicle at the front window glistens and dissolves as afternoon passes. People visit and people leave; no method or system can prevent or manage it. Earlier, walking, the dog and I came upon the ruins of a barred owl. Rare enough that I couldn't remember the last time I beheld one like this, august morning herald bloodied across the trail, altogether silent. Language found you and failed to hold you; my whole life descends into question accordingly. Pine trees shade the old sheep pasture subject to reclamation but in winter my ax rests behind hay bales and I cannot for the life of me reach it. Perhaps what rises is bound to fall, while that which falls contains the dream of rising. Or maybe there are other laws with which I am yet unfamiliar. What do I know, so lonely and cold and wracked by desire? Word by word going down, throwing aside my cane, into a darkness indifferent to cripples and lovers both.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Windless 4 a.m.

Her husband was now one, keeping silent company with all the others. Urgency is almost always an impediment but we do what we can. One insists on playing the forbidden instrument and only after putting it down - which surrender may take lifetimes - does a music arrive saying play this instead. Heretofore hidden? So it seems when January is coldest, in the windless 4 a.m., in the one-or-two-stars only. One takes note of the utter absence of interior pliability signified by frozen maples, one surrenders altogether the possibility of insight. She is there but unreadable, as it was probably meant to be. Would you write a last letter? Would you lean one more time out in the sunlight just so? Don't forget the house frame when you move. He wrote and wrote and it was all useless, it was all deadfall he couldn't wait to burn, and so he did, and went walking then in a different - in a surprising - direction.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Sort of Prismatic Disembodiment

Promises break naturally, in the way you can only bend a birch tree so far. What a forest in which to be so lost! There are gaps in thought through which one can only float now, but briefly, a sort of prismatic disembodiment out of which a yearning for no-experience arises. At night I dream of many women and one or two men, all urging me to "keep nothing before you," which I understand to mean stop resisting anything, anything at all. Submission then, surrender. Nonresistance, but don't be in such a rush to call it that. I wake in the Carruthian mode - "the insomniac sleeps well for once and . . . " - and sit up in bed to watch sunlight scale the neighbor's barn, a roseate hue that makes me wish I weren't so bent on naming everything. You could be here, but you're not, and honestly I'm more than a little tired of spiritualizing absence, especially yours. People who read me think I'm a Jesus freak ("just another soldier in the God Squad, ma'am"), while people who talk to me about it think I'm a gentle and accommodating atheist, but people who love me know I'm just a wordy bastard in the mode of wild parrots. It's okay. Ice in the chicken waterers doesn't mean they won't drink; it just means they need a helpful friend. I'm here; you be here, too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Late and Getting Later

Jesus waits for me as always in the chapel of 4 a.m. I enter underdressed, with snowflakes on my shoulders, and the exquisite sadness I have been cultivating since I first learned about death. You can hear the train whistle, you can hear the owl, and you can pretend they are not the same thing. He reminds me sometimes of a man whittling a flute: he is amused by my search for what pleases him. The way the wind sounds from under pine trees, a poem about dogs, the self-image of a man without shoes. Frivolity abounds. Tell me why you are scared of love, he says. There are ghosts everywhere, even at noon, especially at noon. I don't answer, which is a kind of answer, but not the kind I want to offer anymore. It isn't worship he's after, or sanctification. And he doesn't need me to explain anything. My uncles are here, including the ones who died before I was born, leaning against one another in the dimly-lit choir loft. The teeth of the poor are both eloquent and beautiful. How tired we become insisting that salvation resemble this and not another story. A church is one - but not the only - excuse to kneel. To say I miss you misses the point. On the other hand, who else is there at this late - and getting later - juncture?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Black Bears in January

Coming back through fields at 3 a.m. thinking my blood must be thinning or I'm getting soft or what because the damn cold keeps my head down and I don't see a thing but only hear from time to time the wind and the trees creaking like old men at odds with their bones. There - I said it. Hoping with or against hope? Or do blessings emerge independent of what one thinks and allows to fragment in words? Where the road dipped - where a month back or so I fell and hobbled for weeks, making the kids laugh but oh how difficult sleep became, and lifting - a certain star began to pulse in the sky, north and a little east, like a radio signal or a shot glass of gin when the lights are turned on suddenly. In its radiance my whole body thrummed and thought was sublimated like black bears in January. You make the shape of angels, you explore the divine plenitude implied by comma splices. You scratch a list on which the words "discipline," "maybe" and "order" figure prominently. Your last letter came and left me full of longing, like moonlight on roses in the nineteenth century. I wouldn't want to be more or better, now or anywhere else. What a forbidden light you were, what a kiss to go without.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Darknesses Eventually Turn

Distractions abound. Chickadees, women, moonlight - even the idea of justice. It's okay. Without metaphors, we starve, yet without starvation, we have no means to discover the loveliness inherent in what is always empty. What words wrought, words cannot untangle! Don't fight the yearning to fall but rather praise falling. As before dawn I slip out the back door and lean against the garage which smells of new paint despite the cold and recent snow. One more night with stars, with the space between stars, and with that which holds it all as one. All my darknesses eventually turn north, my mornings a hymn to that frozen sacred quadrant. The heart opens to every traveler and some stay longer than others. The prayer becomes a habit, then a duty, then a gift and then becomes a prayer again. The Beloved says: for a little while longer, yes? So, yes then. Yes.

A Radiant Dispersion

The Lord and I have a long talk about it in the forest. Birch trees open their silver limbs; starving deer poise themselves for escape. You are always sending me the ones who think I know the way to you, I tell him. You are always asking me to build cathedrals when we both know a clearing in which to kneel is sufficient. He doesn't answer, being more interested in the chickadees who are close enough to touch. After a while I stop complaining and rest in God the way He taught. I was placed in this choir for a reason. Not to sing my heart out for a woman but to praise the absence of secrets, to extend the absence of mystery. He points to an icicle no larger than a tear, the light passing through it a radiant dispersion. How gentle He is and how generous! How happy I am to have been given the words to the wordless song created long ago. When I open my mouth, His directionless extravagance sails into the sky like a moon. She moves away in the light she can finally see. I sing only the quiet, the subtle refulgence, the center we all of us share.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Luminous and Obvious

The wind begins somewhere up North, a sound pouring down across the barn like hunger or a bell tower toppling, and for a moment I perceive it as internal, then as something my shoulders have to carry a far distance, then as just the wind from which the idea of sails emerged. Desire knows the way as well and also sometimes cows. What passes passes, like cars on the interstate, while what remains remains, and longs to be noticed. The moon seems to float in the sky more luminous and obvious than I can manage at most given junctures, though where the forest leans tiredly into the field, I do cognize that the relationship between light and frozen water preceded what we call birth and will surely outlast death. Can I say that? Would you be salt otherwise? We don't own anything, not the night, not poetry, and not the heart that welcomes both. Mostly I read poets who know they are language writing itself, rather than distinct sentient objects using language to express said object's insights, preferences and so forth. How boring to think our thoughts actually matter! You go so far only to learn nobody said you had to travel in the first place, and so now what? Beet and turnip soup, last of the day before's bread, a lamp in which our hands meet, doves at the day's end. You are literally my love. You are literally the light I am following. Who cares how quiet it gets in the meantime?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Forest Otherwise

A whiskey hangover is better for the narrative, or it was anyway. Now I'm not so sure. We don't eat parrots, which pisses off the chickens. We met in Charlemont at the old country store and carried hot black coffees a couple of miles south to the old railroad station talking about what haunted us and the women we insisted play the role of haunts. What do you do with your hands? A spiritual practice must move us beyond spirituality into a clear and simple relationship with all that is. In other words (but probably not these) you are looking at it right now. Ancestral impulses, a hankering to get every sentence just so and overall amusement at how persistent sex can be. Don't gussy it up with God! I want to sleep with her the way I want to drink whiskey alone. I insist on fucking the way I insist on walking as far as possible when the moon is full. You haven't seen the forest otherwise. And who cares? Not the moon, not desire. Not the forest. Life chugs along regardless of my cheerfully confused wordiness. What's it like for you? I am so tired of being a love letter torn between envelopes, so tired of being a bell that thinks it's ringing itself. Oh Christ forgive me but I want one more time to learn again inside her the futility of kisses.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Deerless Mornings

Just after the sun rises I take my coffee into the truck and drive half a dozen towns north just to do it. There is an ending we all share and you can't put it into words but so what. I never loved a rose that needed me to blossom. The cardinal sits a long time in the dogwood tree before coming down to feed and I try but fail to leave her out of the poem. I don't feel like a dead leaf, don't feel like a fallen barn, but still. I can't find the words to say you're home but you're home, okay? Vain prattling empties me in preparation of no ceremony for which I am thankful as hell. Flurries, gunmetal skies, a cheerful dog without tags nosing a couple of burned-out stumps. Took an old back road and pulled over where it crested to see if any deer were out. A heaterless truck is a fact I'm too broke to fix. Coffee is like a blowjob in that even when it's bad it's still pretty good. Yes to deerless mornings where yes is a wordless hymn I believe I am ready to sing. Can we agree now the moon doesn't need us? I come back slowly, crooning, my cracked voice like all voices in need of no ear.