Like That But Not Exactly

Sleigh bells. Ancestors. 

Songs about her shoulders.

Families of spices.

Cake tins, salt shakers, saddle soap.

I remember auction houses as a child, going through boxes of books and choosing the ones I wanted, favorites, which my mother would always bid on, a beautiful complex memory she insists never happened. 

I want you in the barn on the hay, I want you with the horses, teaching us all how to see again. So I cry when I kiss, so what.

The river unfreezes and white stones at its bottom glisten in the rainy dawn of late December. How far we go to speak of love! How we open, book-like, allowing the other to read us closely at last, consenting at last to textual healing.

We were lost a long time, and then we were found, and are obligated unto each other thusly. After days shoveling and sleeping on the floor my back hurts too much to kneel and tie my shoes and so I don’t.

It’s like that but not exactly.

But what falls apart reassembles and our dream softens and loosens its hold, and what is born does not die, and what can die was never born. Apples by Roger Yepsen, at which point the marriage acquired its non-negotiable unmovable Polaris.

Say yes again. Say yes at all.

Yesterday and the day before and the day before that. And you: always you always loving me, in ways I did not know I was allowed to be loved. 

Categorized as Sentences

Something Closer to Anodyne

Christmas morning I write to Justine and read what I’ve written, and eventually cull four paragraphs totaling almost two thousand words about what I have learned about Love in, through and with her, and send something closer to anodyne, being cautious, insecure, careful, et cetera. We get greedy, we get presumptuous, and we end being the wrong person’s truth and way and life and what can be done about it at this late and getting later juncture? Jasper offers to come by with his Bobcat and knock down a couple of stumps, which I notice is not okay with me because the stumps function as symbols of my unworthiness and being unworthy is still valuable (I know who could help but do I know how to let them help) and when I tell him this he laughs and says, “when you’re ready, brother.” Gun shots a little after dusk, end of deer season. There are prayers we don’t notice we pray, and there are loves who teach us a new way of praying that is noticing itself. From the Letter of James, a helpful reference to “the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Going out in heavy rain to check on the horses, who stand still and silent in the late December downpour, gazing at me where I stand in wet snow, thinking all the thoughts I think and all the feelings I feel when I balance so precariously (I wanted to write preciously) on the brink of healing, the beginning of relationship, the meeting of East and West, et cetera. Rebirth is death and death is not a thing of which we ought be either frightened or ashamed. I don’t want to write another sentence without her by my side but nobody ever asked me what I wanted. Oh you who are the desert’s end, my earthly delight and spiritual bower, be with me in the flesh, and build with me our bed. Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Amen.

Categorized as Paragraphs

The Eyes of a Blind Horse

David Gilmour’s second solo in Comfortably Numb. “Authority forgets a dying King” and other lines of Tennyson’s that I’ve wondered about over the years. Shall we make it a threesome then?

Shoveling slower in my fifties but still happy to shovel. I remember drunk, I remember how it hurt after, looking at my hands and knowing what they’d done. A sliver of Lake Champlain forever in the mind.

How does one see through the eyes of a blind horse and yet in another sense, how does one see at all, if not through the eyes of a blind horse? Waxing gibbous moon high over the barn, soft in the hours before the snow starts. You close the bedroom door behind you, you pause and then remove your shirt before coming to bed.

Reading Tolkien in trees in my early teens. A blow is coming, I know it, I cannot adequately prepare for it, and yet. We “get right” with the Lord, we “get right” with our God and our wife, we vote the party line and we keep our rifles ready.

Dad making jokes I couldn’t laugh at and how that hurt him so that when I did laugh in attempt at rectification it was as if I were laughing at his hurt (which only made everything worse) and at a late juncture I wonder if in fact I was. Rain in December and other anomalies. Everyone’s in a rush to tell me what the fluorescent telepathic octopus signifies but I already know: he’s a psychic manifestation of the Holy Spirit, itself a psychic manifestation of the impersonal intelligence that is not of – but creates – self. 

When you listen to my lies, when you listen to me sing. Whispering your name before coming, feeling your arms tighten around my shoulders. This was always the only choice, you see?

I carry the dead sparrow far from the back porch, laying it gently down beneath hemlocks nobody visits, and do not pray, for is not all I have done to this juncture a prayer? Your hair, the sun on your face.

Categorized as Sentences

Muttering the Luciferian Prayer

When you still think you need to be forgiven.

When you have nothing. 

When broken.

Unbottled. Blue lights in which our breathing softens until it nearly stops, letting us feel again the loveliness of what we are in Truth.

Not this. Not this.

Not this.

Love washing over us, wave upon beautiful wave, until even the idea of sin dissolves and is gone forever.

Her drive with her family to a place I am which I bless happily in prayerful huddle with Jesus who makes me smile, makes me laugh, makes me so happy I bless everyone without thinking, even Kent who I hate because he knows her in the many ways I cannot and never will.

Properly understood, dialogue has neither an end nor a beginning nor a middle.

Lost in a bologna sandwich of my own making.

The way you say anything matters more than what you say.

Last of the whiskey blackouts, last time stumbling in darkness up a rushing river, last time thinking about guns and ends and who saves who and how.

Last time muttering the Luciferian prayer.

My heart, that twice-concussed and born again hummingbird. Seeing her mother in how she holds the saxophone and brings forth the art, and grateful beyond measure in ways that cannot be expressed. 

What is beyond repair, what is beyond caring, and what is beyond what is beyond what is given me to share with you.

Raising the dead with her, praying in back alleys with her, feeding the poor with her.

Other in her, undone in her.  

Categorized as Sentences

Our Small Fire’s Reach

It was Saturday long ago, and I was thinking about long-dead dogs, and the way that Christmas carols have affected how I think about Jesus.

Coming down the hill on Route 143 in the 1970s, a million stars floating in the darkness itself floating high overhead, just grazing the line of distant hills I did not then consider either distant or an impediment.

Ways in which we are antagonists.

Shaking angels in her, loving how the light in her changes, letting it be hers then mine then ours, and being saved thusly.

Driving to Burgy, parking on the north side of 143, and wading through banks of snow to reach the land my father gave me. 

Little brooks pushing through mounds of fallen snow which if you kneel and gaze into are decorated with sky and towering pine trees.

As if kissing her one day were actually a choice.

Morning passes writing.

Jesus going out into the desert, and how that narrative image integrates into a broader narrative of consequence and salvation, and how two thousand years later I understand being lonely and inquisitive differently accordingly.

How happy John Lennon was from time to time!

Closer please.

Drinking again in the basement, whiskey like water, painting furiously, and when Chrisoula comes down to say in a scared voice “please stop,” not knowing how to stop and so going deep into the forest before dawn to cry out for help in the voice that God has never not heard and being heard and being held, being helped.

Saying goodbye in hospitals.

A dim light the day after Solstice, a sort of softness that feels unwelcome, as if my heart were trying to reach me across a great distance, one that I am not yet ready to stop insisting on.

What falls apart does not actually but the dogs are still dead, their graves still asking me to come and rake them, come and kneel and pray to the bones beneath them, so . . .

Always pointing at Worthington, any Worthington.

My love the question is not who we choose nor why we choose them but rather how we choose, which reflects our deeper understanding that choice is an illusion, nothing can be lost, and all that can be given us was given us forever in Creation.

Heart as compass, soul as map, gut as weary traveler.

Healers who stay, healers who leave, healers who as yet are waiting in the dark beyond the our small fire’s reach.

All this happened in a happy dream, a long time ago.

Categorized as Sentences

We Continue on the Road to Bethlehem

Behind Blue Eyes echoing in my brain this morning, the one Townshend released on Scoop. Pushing back on what’s familiar, easy. In the hemlock trees, blue jays cry out, and my dead grandfathers turn in their graves, trying to get comfortable. We are not what we drink but what we love, and our bodies are always angling for the river’s far side.

Helping the neighbors with their trash and recycling, noticing empty Campbell Soup cans, and remembering aspects of childhood that you thought were gone. Snow crunching underfoot, the waning moon an afterthought in western skies the color of the inside of a clam shell.

The minutes pass like notes from hand bells and I marvel as always at Christmas carols and harmony in general. Something has passed us by yet what remains will never leave.

She gasps when I enter, shifts her body, which shifts mine in turn, and then we make love slowly, patiently, as if something other than sex was being brought forth. Barely-plowed roads, one truck wide. Moose holes in winter, wild turkeys in the bare maple trees gazing at us as we pass. Where once the heart broke, now the heart is fire.

Dishonesty as a form of disguise in contexts where another disguise would be more helpful. Enlightenment talk slowly winding down. We move snow in still cold, not talking, the marriage moving into a place language doesn’t need to go. Sugar cookies, fudge, homemade soap and candles. Will you sing when I pass, will you talk in your sleep.

We rise and stretch, we continue on the road to Bethlehem, our arms full of emptiness, our hearts full of joy.

Let your little light shine. I cry a little saying goodbye, wishing another way were already here, being not quite ready yet to let this broke old body let go. 

Categorized as Sentences

Remember the Door Opening

There does not seem to be a middle. Whose birthday is today? A gold dress, a matching bra.

What is this memory or am I just playing yet another trick on a self that can’t let go.

Finger-painting. Balls rolling down hill. Leaning against a maple tree and reading aloud, unaware that a great moment of my life was unfolding and would not return again.

After horse chores, breakfast, and after breakfast getting broth started, and after getting broth started, coffee and writing in the hay loft.

The body refuses another breath but this is not the end. We all want something. 

Fortune-tellers. A woman who made him coffee when he was young, not yet a man, and how he has never forgotten her and even now – decades and two countries later – still talks about her. Writing blocks as a form of not wanting to find out what the blocks to love are.

The blind horse staggering away from the fence. Blue light that hides in the snow. 

I give up, I surrender, okay. Remember newspapers rattling over coffee, remember the door opening and closing, remember hearing Bob Dylan’s Wedding Song for the first time, remember writing poems in notebooks. 

Remember being happy. Cardinals rarely seen this high up in the hemlocks. Jacking off, getting it over with, moving on, om shanti.

Categorized as Sentences

Conjuring Yet Another Mystery

Luminous tides are the heart another way. If it’s nearly Christmas Eve then it’s also nearly what? The culture lives in us as we live in the culture. Loons cried out in the distance and I turned somersaults in the middle of the lake while on the faraway shore she felt the loneliness of the marriage starting to acquire a Sean-like hue. There is no hurt is a hard lesson to finally grasp but I didn’t make the path or establish the curriculum. Frost flowers blossoming make me happy to linger. One goes down a certain way and upon rising meets a new lover and so begins again. My salty tongue, my flowery throat, my night-strewn gut conjuring yet another mystery. Context is the problem not the solution. These untied shoes and unzipped jeans signifying a similarly rank insistence on mythology. Psilocybin mocks not the Lord but our middling conception of holiness and thus emphasizes the proper posture of humility and gratitude. I mean I’m here, right? As in an anonymous motel room once we made love in sorrow a last time knowing the price we were both about to pay and for the life of me Denise I couldn’t find it again if I tried and I want to, I want to, I do.

Categorized as Paragraphs

All the Shades of Blue

Honesty. Clearing ground in late fall, stumps jutting up from wind-blown snow just shy of Christmas, and a sense one is neither missing nor not missing a thing. Blue jays in the hemlocks.

Steam rising off coffee, maple trees on the hill blurred by frosty limbs, and a sense that – but wait.


My son working beside me, quiet because it’s morning, and my heart folding and unfolding like a living but mute creature that can only express itself through dance.

I feel a rebirth behind my shoulders, something coming through me now like an avalanche or a jet.

I remember as a child cataloging all the shades of blue and knowing that doing so was the beginning of a mystery that I wouldn’t solve until well into my fifties.

I’m exhausted by all the thinking and rethinking, planning and executing, related to sex, as if my attention has been misdirected all these years, gazing at a surface I am meant not to graze but integrate.

The cold makes me gasp, makes my head ache closing and reclosing the back door until it catches. You can hear the horses at a distance, their hooves grinding two-day old snow.

Goddess moves, vixen moves, grandmother moves.

Shifts in perception. Underlying currents. One day you will write “Christ” and it will be the last time ever. Solar-powered Christmas ornaments growing dim as dawn approaches.

Wife moves, lover moves.

My mother’s frantic energy as Christmas draws near and she faces a loneliness that resembles in all the way it she makes it resemble death.

Venus on the livid Eastern horizon, a loveliness, a sentence, a brother, my love.

You have to get right with Lucifer, stop killing mice, and tell Shiva there ain’t no dance that a dancer like you can’t dance.

Categorized as Sentences

Old Lovers Shredded in Heaven

I call Jasper after hours shoveling and say “our fathers were sonsofbitches but I’m not unhappy with the man I am.”

Cups of coffee, eggs over easy, sausage with too much red pepper kneaded in and steak fries cooked just shy of burnt, just the way I like them.

Soft padding of cats moving through the living room while I pray.

What is falling if not snow.

What is this globe in which to find ourselves so lonely and alone, snow falling.

Definition as function. 

And yet, in the end, it is not easy to be kind at all.

The man without shoes is also the man who is out of time. How did I miss this?

Who helps.

Letters to old lovers shredded in Heaven and allowed to sift downward through gray skies, quiet and soft, as if what went wrong were somehow not wrong at all.

Are lies a form of disguise? Why haven’t I thought of this before? What else is out there for me to learn?

Oh, little by little and then some.

He laughs and says they were and you are and me too and then we talk about sons and daughters and Ron’s plan to open a microbrewery when the pandemic finally ends.

What ends.

Waking to an alarm at 5 a.m., odd dreams of lawyers and state cops, probably concocted by late night reading of pleadings in the federal antitrust case against Google which left me oddly happy, hopeful.

Frost flowers on the east-facing window. Chrisoula passing through the bedroom sweeping, the floor in need of it but more than that, her psyche in need of the healing sweeping offers her, and I don’t speak, in order that love might be love, mercy mercy, and what is holy, holy. 

Categorized as Sentences