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.