Swimming farther than anyone else as always, to rocks that from a distance looked like an island but close up were more like knives jutting from a blue surface. Later we talk about the difference between Picasso and velvet Elvises, Steven Pinker essays, and how generally confused people are with respect to evolution. The many dead fish are not averse to your use of the pond. I held on, floated, caught my breath, was amazed at bees who’d flown this far out for the few flowers sprouting in crevices. My brothers and sisters in sweetness. Keeping it simple for once, or trying to, and maybe that is the new mode but who knows? Bohm by the lake, poodles with docked tails, old ladies unperturbed by play, musicians going to seed, and Bohm yet again and yet again the lake. Struck as always by the clarity of seeing the observer and the observed as one and yet how the seeing comes and goes which can make it seem special or magical, your specialness, your magic. Can I get an “oh for the love of Christ?” Be sure you are aware of your preference for the Abrahamic God as you ask all these questions – question questioning, question the questioner and so forth. Or don’t bother. It’s going where it goes anyway. I didn’t think I’d make it out – thought maybe at last I’d found the limits of my body’s need for water and ability to leave others behind while in it – but no, there I was alone, floating, everyone a blurred dot on the shore and it was peaceful and quiet, an earned joy, if one can say that that way, which I’m going to do whether it’s allowed or not. Well, there is so little to say really but one knows it must be said so there you go. Sunlight on pine trees at six a.m., my new home beside the river, and my river flowing in every direction at once.
Rain which for some reason makes me think of boundaries, dissolution, what is new, is there any such thing, etc. You were born but birth is less a beginning than a continuation, a reassembling of what is familiar, or is that just a way of putting it where “way of putting it” is the world. Wendell Berry’s concepts of order many years later seen as overly rigid, insufficiently inclusive. Months later one comes up with a helpful example but the dialogue – in the narrow sense – has ended though its helpfulness has not. Some of us ask why, others just put their heads down and build things. So I am given to texts, to textual approaches, so what? We pass on the party, the lamb on the spit, and for the first time in years I wonder if my habitual preference for solitude needs to be reexamined in light of my kids whose needs diverge from mine, revealing yet again the collective and one’s ever-shifting relationship with it. Rain means writing, or time for it, which has been absent lately, leading to shorter pieces mostly while brooding on abstract longer ones, what one thinks of as the moose approach to writing. There are consequences to prioritizing, and prioritizing is always happening, so it’s good to be attentive, to just see what matters to the deep interior algorithm. The many Buddhas and the many Christs are like blow jobs – too few makes you obsess over getting more and too many make you bored and drifty and ungrateful. The idea that we can figure this out is problematic mostly because the “one” doing the figuring is not static but in motion in many ways at once. Even the moon is folding and unfolding, which is a way of saying there is no center. We laughed watching Morrison stalk the stage. Spilling a little yeast, studying a little sadness, and learning that the nature of entropy is forward, toward forward, is bent in a sense not on decay but transition of which translation is a useful part. Will one day I wake up beside you or has that already happened? Perhaps she is in the next room, perhaps there are no rooms, only all these ways of saying it. Oh what was my wordiness ever but a form of gratitude, idealistic love, a kind of thank you note extending across a life, this one.
Six a.m. with a spade, sweating, the sun a roily smear beyond the far hill which is not the only hill as this is not the only six a.m. but we are trying, we are trying.
We agree to try a couple of cows on the back slope of pasture, and see what happens, and it feels good to make a decision, any decision.
No more sins, no more kneeling.
And yet no more rainbows either and what will afternoon do then?
Skipping rocks across the meadow, the neighbor’s pigs watching, and you wonder how far their thoughts go, musing on the spinal afflictions of bipeds maybe, or speculating from whence the inclination to sing to the young comes.
And yet as the light sifted through layers of black maple outside, no rain yet but maybe later, we did kneel, one before the other, together, and we did hold each other after, thinking thoughts that went unshared yet lost no tenderness thereby.
Images of you with your head turned, eyes closed, cheeks flushed, your lips open a little, while I whisper, so softly, a wordless objectless language.
Ferns, unfolding, furls I trail my hand across, learning to go lightly where what loosens is welcome, welcoming.
The one yes, and the other yes, and what is not yes but intimates yes, that yes.
“The hill is always taller than you think” is only true according to what mode of travel you use to ascend it.
There are other ways, but this way is fine, more than fine really.
The particular salt of light, the beat-up shades in motels she declines to visit on my – on anyone’s – account anymore.
I no longer covet houses or landscapes, and sex is no longer the hinge on which my attention turns, and only one of the preceding clauses is true, or so I say, being as always inclined to hedging.
Dirt roads, wild mustard, first moose sighting of 2016, and oh, always oh.
Over my shoulder the moon, while beneath and somewhat before me, the garden erupting in clumps, worms twisting at the sudden rush of light and heat.
That black coat, that heel upon which he turns, the dust that rises and settles when he does, and so on and so forth in the many ways our language allows and makes necessary.
Dad and I studied the tool shed but the pitchfork was gone, as if claimed by whoever needed it more, where “whoever” did not include either of us, and also implied some sort of subterfuge alien to Christ.
The river not murmuring in the sense of speaking to me – or you – but still, murmuring.
Chives, bluets, onions, rhubarb, tomatoes, amaranth, bee balm, peonies, clover, and in my mind, always, pumpkins, rows of them between which we walk, no longer given to waiting.
One day you will regret not making a more intimate use of cameras, understanding late but not too late that it captures not the body but the desire that makes the body possible.
New meditation exercise: watch the garden grow. Or so the bougainvillea suggests, the wild blackberries, the iris. Capitalization intrudes on the sentence generally, somewhat like broken window frames removed from a house. What are we looking at and why does naming it matter so? These are interesting questions! And one meditates a long time walking along the river, thinking things over, in no rush to conclude, content to see – and be perhaps – the flow. What did John Lennon say? Once again I fail at purchasing new shoes and so C. comes with me and under a veneer of efficiency and inside jokes we yet again work out certain painful aspects of my childhood. Shod at last! On the other hand, that calf grave and those bones – oh Christ all those bones – isn’t going to write itself. Does the unknown actually exist or does “unknown” sufficiently cover it, for now? The slope of pasture troubles me, and so we go there almost nightly to look it over, always at dusk or just after, as if what we are actually looking at doesn’t matter, only working out what we think, which we only see when we say it. “And how do you feel about that” my first therapist asked, when I was eighteen and always ready to run and always ready to fight if I couldn’t run and I answered “like knocking a few teeth out of your head you smug fuck” and he smiled and that was the first time I understood forgiveness might be possible and whatever follows forgiveness and it was, it was, oh Jesus it was. And now what? Well, now you among other things. There are wool socks on the writing desk, business cards that haven’t been rifled through in years and a dull paring knife. Husserl hides in the ruins so stop avoiding the interior wrecking ball. Let me go suggests Jesus and in response I write an essay about how there is neither one to do the letting go nor any thing to let go of. That. But not always that. Not anymore anyway. And in the meantime, this.
You don’t participate in dialogue – dialogue participates in you. And yes, spelling is relative, as is communication, yet there remains an absolute sense that there is an absolute. Attend thusly! Bringing up God feels pointless now, a distraction, almost as if one isn’t serious but just wants to close the future down. Cards were scattered across the dining room table, mostly face-down, but here and there revealing content (oh look – the three of hearts crossed by the king of clubs) and intimating both games and value, and how appropriate, how helpful. Attendance, attention, a yes. In that moment we found our way, mostly by relaxing the inclination to control the direction and also by rolling down the windows a little. The map was not helpful but it was a comfort to have it, which struck me as a sad commentary on the human condition, our little aspect of it, and yet it was a nice drive, an act of love, and so who cares? Like coffee but harder to articulate, maybe. Getting old is okay as entropy is just another way of finding the way that long ago found and made you for its own obscure designs. In the morning there are certain fluid insights that by evening calcify and become oppressive, hence our need for a body to sleep with and ceiling fans and cookbooks nobody opens. He said he was working on an essay entitled “Condom as Text” and though I understood there was also a barely restrained sense of “Oh for Christ’s sake learn to run a chain saw or ride a horse.” Nobody cares if you want to learn or not, or want to fall in love or not, or want to become the head of a big television news network. You wears your shoes, you walks your path. Or you disdains your shoes and discover that’s the path. On the other hand, the stairs invited a level of panic that made discourse a challenge. Sparrows, chickadees and enterprising hummingbirds abound. Begging for gogyohka is no help but being willing to write poorly is. Alms please. I am tired, mortally so, and night is always falling somewhere, and now this. This this.
The chicken in the post office was not our chicken, the clamor not our clamor but naturally we helped corral it. In the village, one attends to work, broadly defined, and leaves the forest to itself which is more or less what the forest wants. Needs? Don’t get me started she said, which is what people always say after they are “started.” I am always telling lies – which are simply the truth another way, a sometimes elaborate sometimes minimalist way, but mostly an enhanced narrative way, a better story – and then compensating for perceived dishonesty. Jesus wept but so what? We are all composing a plot (as we are all eventually decomposing in plots), and we are all lead characters. After you shoot the goat, you string it up quickly so it bleeds out in buckets, and the blood is good for the garden, but in doing all this one does sense a god or two in need of appeasement. Let’s dance! At 4 a.m. the birds begin and you go out to look at the moon – that waning gibbous ensconced in soft clouds – and the river is a low murmur that way, and the city a soft glow on the horizon that way, and desire unfolds all around you, like a patch of bluets re-cognizing sunlight, like melting. Think it over is what I am saying, from this small island of trust in an otherwise reckless ocean. At a minimum find a way to say “be mine.” I napped after mowing, sweaty and thought-out, then met with the neighbor to discuss essay-writing, no longer a strong point, and later ate pizza, amazed as always at the abundance of choices. Amazed at always? Well, eggplant anyway. At dusk you think maybe a beer but it doesn’t work that way, not anymore. Define your terms, be aware of inferential distances, and remember that luminosity will take care of itself. Here I am, love: what do want to say?
We are guided only by the words, you and I, and yet seem to have achieved some coherent affection – both loyal and faithful, verging on joy even – which is a kind of miracle, cognitive and otherwise. The tribe sits quietly at 4 a.m., separated by miles yet viewing the same sky, constellations that speak – are speaking – quietly in languages one hesitates to translate. The season of apple blossoms falling nearly over, so exquisite and lovely, yet each one emphasizing what I neither have nor know, and so each one like an eyelash being torn from my face and yet I did not leave, could not – can not – tear – yes, tear – my self away from watching them. Attend what begs our attendance! Because you. “Knowing me/knowing you.” Certain neighbors are like weeds, and there is always somebody somewhere who likes a given weed, and so it’s best to breathe, just roll with the chain saws and the poorly-tended sheep and the not-so-private arguments and so forth. We are behind the garden, behind on the garden, and yet in time, perfectly. Old pleasures no longer satisfy, and one cannot ascertain if it’s a new material paradigm requiring adjustment, or simply another case of nostalgia burying what one is otherwise reluctant to look at. Birdwatching, that old standby. The inferential distance expands, swallows us whole, or proposes to, and in that unseeable chaotic ocean one at last eschews vedantic semantics and simply gives attention to what is here, which is the world, this world, which is a sufficient anchor, a harbor even. It is a question of kisses, at times, and at other times simply taking what the other reads seriously, and at yet other times being careful to cook not what we want to cook but what they want to eat. Abiding happiness resides in service, and subtle philosophical distinctions related to service are like folds that lightly touched yield yet subtler folds, openings through which one travels in search of the reason for all this traveling. Be grateful as I am for who is presently companionable, not begrudging the interior hermit her antique lamp, her practically pagan prayers. Sparse blooms of lilac arrive at the table, we say grace just so, and eat – as grateful as only the empty can be, as only the hungry know how to be – what is given us to eat. This.
The camera says one thing, shows another, and what we believe thereby creates a spiritual – a pointless – triangulation. Get it? This is what passes for relationship now, this is what passes for engagement. Decamping yet again for your corner of the world. The tiny wooden cross I wear appears in the faces of those who perceive it, reflections studying reflections wearing reflections. “And so forth” may as well be the mode. The title? We bury the pigeon shot dead by a neighbor, musing on good intentions and the functionality of shovels. Thank Christ somebody was thinking! The problem of course is that somebody else wasn’t. You bring wine, I’ll bring willingness. The joy? Well, it’s helpful to be aware of the referential nature of language without making a big deal about it, just sort of thinking about what can’t be said and yet is real, yet is present. “Knowing you/knowing me.” Another pair of shoes ruined, yet another way poverty makes light of me. I woke early to read the mail, then went back to bed, a bad one-two combination because it didn’t involve either coffee or sex. These apple blossoms are lovely, these bookshelves bear splendidly the weight of ideas, and in general my fear of love gets more and more specific. You never send pictures which confuses me which is maybe the point. Perhaps we’ll die! And perhaps the camera is telling a kind of truth, a melting kind. The doctor was gentle, speaking thusly, more Bayesian than not, possibly Tibetan. You wonder after how the present is so often composed of wonder! Don’t get worked up about coincidence, just keep giving attention until the one reveals herself, saying darling it’s this. This this.
Talking to J. the other night while walking – the courthouse on Main Street obscuring sunset – I said I was in love with two women at once and he said very seriously, only two – how do you do it? When you think in terms of reducing something to Heaven then life is pretty good. Stars in the whiskey, wagon wheels turning, and begonias on my mind. Somebody upstairs looks like you. Likes you? Stray dogs make me wish I was rich, otherwise being poor just sort of keeps passing like a breeze, a season, like a homily when there’s all that stained glass to admire. Those moths sure do love your shoulders, let me kiss them off you into flight, okay? Funny how we keep thinking of ourselves as attractive when really we’re just poster boys for entropy. Shall we dim the lights, draw the shades? What happens under the covers never stays under the covers. You feel bad for Judas, want to put your arms around him, which when you think of it is pretty much what Jesus would do. Getting dexterous with Husserl in anticipation of undressing her, or making the case for undressing her, or at least being brave enough (faithful enough?) to get to where undressing her is possible. The prayer takes care of itself as always, otherwise it wouldn’t be a prayer but a negotiation. Oh please. My peas or yours? I hope there’s hummingbirds in your suburban midwestern poustinia. The cold cell gets colder, and mice took all the crumbs. The breaking-down monk who from time to time you bless can barely remember “amen,” can only narrowly see a way out to you.
Four a.m. retains its sacred prerogative, even as the tops of the hills turn from black to deep blue, Sol ascending, this side of the circle. Ants ascending too, their horizon forever a matter of right angles, both here and in the kitchen. Briefly I step outside with tea, then come back in to sit quietly in darkness then write, this. This this. You fall in love with words, with phrases, then you see the sentence as a sort of insistent yet satiable lover, laying you down in paragraphs for messy but ecstatic romps. After matters more but still, that hunger. The moon to the west is so bright one can’t help looking, being amazed, which is itself amazing. Even what is gone remains – remember that. Thank you in advance for our shared hypnosis. Clumsily undressing, reading before sleep, touching my neck, that sort of thing. Those coffin ships didn’t sail themselves, so here I am, filled with want and courting ruin. From the shoulders down, as long as it takes, okay? What happens is you put your new shoes on and realize your feet are still there, still doing what your feet have always done, and there is some slippage then, as into the sea, the infinite, the praisable woman indifferent to praise. A lovely salt, a lingering kiss. Keep practicing! How close is mountain to moan, and moan to means, and means to end, where “end” is the love in which we the collective, we the insistent, we the implied begin? Not climbing really but just being in motion, eternally, closer to stars, stairs, slowly encircling, the delirious cartography of light we share, literally, lovelily, la.