Thursday, April 30, 2020

My Overtures Now

There is no outside. Because we are dependent on language to structure perception, and because language is inherently ideological, the world is always given to us already ideologically formed. There is always relationship. When I was younger I kept lists but now I just sit or stand quietly outside and let them sing. Not only can you not take it with you, you can't even hold it in the interim! I want to use the word "vireo" in a poem but don't because I haven't seen one recently but also am concerned this misunderstands a critical function of poetry which is to bring forth the world which one desires. The confusion of self-criticism with honesty makes all the lies make sense. On daylight savings Sunday we get to the horses an hour later than usual and they whinny calling us, tight coils like rope unfurling in morning chill. One of the stories I have not adequately told is about the dead calves and burying them with my father who like most men when faced with grief just dug a grave. Two cups of coffee into the morning and this is what you've got? In another setting, I write a permission slip for use of the word "soul." I was pleased with myself once, the pleasure informing a lot of what continues to appear. Is it possible we confused our hunger for something else? The moon declines my overtures now. In my bed a wild rose bush, the folds keeping me up all night in the posture of one crying "mercy."

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

From the Inside Out

This is part two. This is the first part again but differently. This is all there is. This is a remix. This is listening.

This is sitting quietly doing "sitting quietly doing nothing." This is the first cup of coffee but with cinnamon. This is the ongoing sexual fantasy which paradoxically is also its own release. This is coming to terms with Tara Singh. This is the real hunger.

This is my son soloing in a bar and the quiet of everyone suddenly listening and this is my jealousy of his excellence and my fear he will miss a note. This is a poem for the one who needs it. This is a sentence. This is how dizzy I am studying the past. This is the second part.

This is what's next. This is the idea of order. This is the real hunger coming to terms with Tara Singh. This is for the women who were helpful once. This is from the inside out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Outside the Error

and begin

I want to use the word "vireo" in a poem. I want a sentence that does not begin with "I" and has nothing to do with want, regardless of the words it uses. In the morning, walking away from the horses, wondering what, if anything, the crows have to do with me.

The prose is now through with me? There is distance and there is false distance, which is the illusion of distance in which we are all complicit, as servants of "The Man." In a sense, yes, I have shoes and wear them but in another, no, I have gone shoeless for decades and shall go to my grave thusly.

Like that? The order by which the family alludes to me - allows reference to me - is no longer an order in which I have any influence. One walks for hours through a pine forest that was once a sheep pasture, where now and again one remembers the distinction.

Manages the reflection? If you could only see the way your questions are a form of begging for a preferred answer, then you would know peace (or something like it, something near to it). In the bar on Friday I was lost, and scared because I was lost, and angry because I was scared.

Amen. The chimney collapses, or starts to collapse. There is this ongoing need for moonlight, for knowing where precisely the moon has gone, which is a way of being in relationship with the sky, and with distance.

Or did I say that already? Baudrillard warns us that the system is too strong, resistance is futile, and even the rebellion becomes fodder for its ongoing blossoming. A cancer cell, a pretty dell, a resignation to the sound of "oh well."

There is no outside. The error was laying a rose at her door when what she wanted was a wreath and what we needed - both of us - was a quieter wedding that did not call attention to itself, didn't insist on beginnings or ends, and studied - not worshiped - the relationship between fireflies and night.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

INTERIM: Tea and a Lifetime

On my way home the other night - hours in the cathedral of the winter forest, idolizing Venus and the faint crescent of the Lambing Moon - I passed the cabin in which we were going to share tea and a lifetime and heard you loving someone the way I once dreamed you'd love me. Yet I didn't stop or slow, being neither prurient not curious, nor willing to break the new vows. Gazing up through snowy pines in solitude one is gently lifted beyond the range of their emotional encripplement. Is left alone with the wolves? The Lord says "here is the path and here are your feet" and the rest you have to infer. I bemoan nothing in the choir loft to which I've been consigned, me and my broom and my obsession with shoes. Lifetimes passed letting men cut out my tongue, the better to learn how to live with silence. "No man sees my face and lives," wrote one who saw His face and lived. Rumors abound and all stories are crutches: listen.

Friday, April 24, 2020

INTERIM: Lingering Too Has Its Limits

Bright Venus in the pale blue dusk, not like anything I know how to put in words. You say "I'll give anything to know you Lord" and the Lord appears and plucks your tongue out so you can't tell anybody which - it turns out - was what you actually wanted, bragging rights to divine visitation. Was it always going to be this way? I stand aside Main Street, dizzy from looking up, toes going slowly numb, my son's guitar faintly chorusing in the distant hay loft. February will end, winter will end, this body will end but there is something that will not end? "You can tell yourself anything," says the Man without Shoes. Yet later, under heavy quilts my great aunt Muriel made in the 1960s, the poems return after several days away, unintentionally traded for the dazzling insights of four a.m.. "You can't have everything," says the Man without Shoes, who never met a witch who didn't instantly invite him to inspect her ovens. One makes the case that it doesn't matter if God is real or unreal and is surprisingly lifted, proof if proof were needed that God is not attached to any particular ontological status. Coincidence abounds, as if somebody somewhere wants to be with us. All echoes are the effect of longing! Coyote cries in the forest remind me that lingering too has its limits. I've forgotten something: or I'm hiding something. Am helping someone? Look at me, four years old all over again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Churches Again

A long morning passes wordily, insights tumbling like black bears through bracken. Is it possible I read too much? The Man for Whom the World is a Living Text observes that the Man without Shoes is nearly always shod. It's okay: or it will be. I breathe and each breath is a lifetime and each lifetime a gift for which breathing is sufficient thanks and praise. What happens happens and I promise you I am here for all of it. However deep the river gets, no law requires you to drown in it. Saint Francis was beautiful but also an aberration: be not haunted by his example. Knowing is possible absent speech, yet relationship is what binds us to living, and so speech by definition becomes us: this, too, is a law. Absolved of the specific fate of praying alone, I begin to visit churches again, including the one in which I was married. Waves lap a rocky Irish shoreline as sunlight creeps up a steep Greek hill? Our gentle love-making anchors a quiet in which the soul is free to profess its divine love at last. We are lambs, we are shepherds, we are children, we are parents. In the cycle I make by giving my word, the Lord declares me Family.

Monday, April 20, 2020

A Traveling Song for the Lonely

At last one understands the terms and conditions of their ontological paralysis, their crippled epistemology and the corresponding emphasis on photographs, fucking and bread. Beautiful frail clouds dissemble in the faraway sky and float east towards the sea as if borne on a river. It is not forbidden to cry to violets and bluets "oh rescue me please!" Prayer is a traveling song for the lonely who by definition must advertise their loneliness. Shall we go together, shall we come together, my dear shall we end together? I feed the horses, sometimes I feed the chickens and pigs, and one way or the other I feed - with Chrisoula - our children. Poem by poem, sentence by sentence, interior plastic leis by which the Lord consents to be obscured are slowly cleared away. Hail Darwinian breezes! Begone Freudian myths! Yes, the autonomy of the living ends in our mouths but mouths too are functions of living. Listen to you singing about honey bees and lavender, reminding me that even seducers have to sometimes swoon. Look at me in late February discussing what to plant in the garden come Spring: dragon beans and pie pumpkins and kookaburra spinach. It's like beyond the mechanical body there is another body, a body of light, and beyond that body a fire, a luminous orange blossom endlessly producing itself for no observer but occasionally itself. Pistils neither empty nor full, stamens neither lost nor found. Under my tongue, roseate folds soften like an origami swan blissfully returning to its Boston origins. Oh beautiful Cailleach, oh Mother of Christ, for this I entered the forest. Swallow me so in darkness I might taste again the light.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Emily Dickinson was No Stranger

Who is watching? At night, before anyone else is awake, I take my dreams into the cold hay loft, spread them before me like Tarot cards, and kneel and pray to still-hidden gods. When my eyes that can see open and see what they see is the moon in strange locations, as if teaching me that the order to which I'm clinging will no longer suffice. These antique glass bottles half-filled with sand and stones, these cheap prisms dangling off fishing line and kite string. What but the Lord would afford so much blessing to one who offers so little? Hansel is forever at the mercy of women which for most of my life I've translated into a tense alliance between obedience and seduction but what if that's not what works? Just after the first light of dawn - a blue hint of hills to which Emily Dickinson was no stranger - birds begin singing about food and mating and food. Without shoes I go forward on the crusty snow of late February, as deep into the song as I can, and at last see how it will never be enough. Before the snake, was the toad merely resigned or frozen with grief and terror? I was seven years old and nobody told me the dog was going to die until just before the dog was shot. Witches know something about hunger that you don't, which is why you're still on your knees. Oh Sean, invoke Christ or don't but for Christ's sake invoke. "My pretties," she croons, "my chickadees."

Saturday, April 18, 2020

A High Gold Arc

The curriculum requires a willingness to be sensual which I've managed mostly through food and steadfast refusals to sleep in ways a body wants which - surprise surprise - is not enough. Swans appear off the highway outside Boston, moving us to lamentations, a sense that something somewhere has gone fatally wrong. One way or another one vocalizes and relationships - both intended and otherwise - began their gorgeous raveling. Lately I begin to understand my sexuality in terms of a vast but failed project to dissuade the Lord from loving me and wonder is it too late to wonder who I should go to for help. Some impossibilities appear as trails one can follow unto death, hence the need for partners who are willing and able to interrupt us, redirect us, et cetera. Late at night, after walking far beyond the village in order to star-gaze and partake of the solitude my living appears to depend on, I stand on the front porch and piss in a high gold arc east. I miss you Dan, wish all the comforts of the dharma upon you, and thank you profusely for your friendship in the difficult years of my early twenties. Warm beer, Hank Williams songs, barely manageable inclinations to topple off high places. For example, hastily jerking off in order not to be tormented later by certain images and their attendant forbidden narrative. I stumble into these sentences under the watchful eyes of a witch who is allowed to choose whether to save or eat me. In the choir loft one realizes that some messes cannot be cleaned because of a not-so-secret desire to make things even messier. Oh Christ, this body, oh Christ, this cross, oh Christ, these nails growing thin and translucent.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Minuscule Prisms

Dawn appears slowly through drawn curtains while I empty the coffee mug, gray light filtering through the prayer like sunlight pillaring a mid-summer lake. Travel plans that come to naught, as eventually all travel plans must. One finds oneself in a dream of dogs, a narrator (whose voice is oddly familiar for one so comforting) gently informing the dreamer it is time again to live with dogs. Skimming in order to determine what is necessary vs. what is merely interesting and not clinging to anything under the false rubric of "maybe one day." Jesus is an invitation to live in ways that confound our basic human nature, which living is a) possible and even broadly helpful but b) more fun to argue against than actually work to embody. The eyeglasses of the poor, the teeth of the poor, the shoes of the poor. Unloading hay one hears what sounds like gun shots and pauses briefly, alarmed. Beginning yet another intellectual sortie into the nineteenth century - this time Darwin - which sortie failed approximately thirty years earlier. Also realizing in one's early fifties how much of their living has been influenced by Freud, that arrogant fabulist, that panicked poser. Sunlight illuminates in a fatal way minuscule prisms of frost blossoms that like the rest of us fade as we speak.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Soul Swam Through Me Like a Shark

Leafless maples encased in frost. I lean into the barn door opening it and pause before entering so the chickens who are briefly alarmed can collect themselves. Whatever you do, do it with love.

Sometimes I go further than the village out to where the winter stars are wild and bright and my loneliness intensifies to something beautiful and sustainable. On Saturday morning, the traffic picks up later than usual, and one writes in pleasing quiet until almost seven a.m. The specific way in which Emily Dickinson will attend you because of the specific way in which Jesus attended her.

The horses plod over crunchy snow to nose then eat the flakes of hay thrown there by the Man without Shoes (who is, of course, shod). Order appears at a late - but not too late - juncture and one's prayers appear to be answerable. Church bells, crow calls and so forth.

A smear of cinnamon on my left thumb. The way in which what was erotic - which in context was necessary - abruptly ended, leaving not absence but emptiness in which the soul swam through me like a shark. I sweep the choir loft with care, pausing to listen to the amazing echoes, grateful to have been allowed even this close.

Clapboard rots under the spigot, the handrail on the back stairs collapses under snow and ice. I forget to check traps in the attic which after a while becomes a good reason to forget to check traps in the attic. Stomach pains which remind me of my grandfather's stomach pains and the brave way he said goodbye to me, all those years ago in a Fall River hospital (whose name I cannot remember).

Correspondence can break things, too. Two cups of coffee fuel the writing a certain way, don't they. You can blame the previous owner or you can give attention to the happiness of future owners: what do you think Jesus would say?

My heart empties as if in preparation. Beyond the many rituals, the need for rituals, and beyond the need for rituals, what?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Another Tour of this Forsaken Shadowy Vale

What is absent? Heavy clouds float slowly towards the river, leaving between them pools of faint blue to shape-shift and tease. If one went all the way in the direction desire intimates, what would happen? Does getting hurt equate to knowing God in a new way?

In the morning I carry hay to the horses, and this is how I know it is morning, and this is how I know I am home. Forgiveness, as such, is sometimes absent or at least the willingness to be forgiven is absent. What we covet, and what we deny we covet, and what we deny we deny.

In a dream, Dan visits and reminds me of another dream visit fifteen or so years ago, and I wake wondering when the current psychological hiccup I occupy will cease its repetition. Five a.m. coffee leavening a sadness that is sad mostly because it knows it can't be healed. Will I in this lifetime ever see you?

Lamps are more effective than candles but darkness isn't evil, just unfamiliar. I think of the trout I have killed, I think of the black bears, and I wonder what penance if any will suffice. What happens behind the grape arbor does not stay behind the grape arbor: those dead calves have not been silent a single day.

Thus, by mid-morning one is lost in the subject of their lifelong study, surfacing only to make tea and gather papers for a later class, happy or what passes for happy. Nobody likes saying so but Darwin sure was ugly until old age and accomplishment converted him to lovely.

At a late juncture, I find myself in the odd position of championing Christianity, as if all along that were the plan. Chrisoula kisses me before leaving for work and the rocker nods approvingly. Jesus, I'll do anything if you'll spare me another tour of this forsaken shadowy vale. A lamb-colored sliver of moon fades over the lambs. Tell me, says the Lord: what trouble have you wrought unto my children?

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

This is the Gentle Purgatory

Lambs bawl in the not quite dawn, stumbling through snow beside their watchful mamas, their date with Easter bullets and meat knives still a little ways off. Rain turns to snow then back and then back yet again. Late February vs. the end of the world else why be so goddamn serious. Three cups of coffee and morning chores and the monastic vows become vivid and elastic only to recede around lunchtime when hunger sets in. Those sweet potatoes aren't going to roast themselves! We are going somewhere (we hid something), but where? The questions we ask are hints of the answers we believe will make us whole by ending questions altogether. There's a corollary somewhere (but where) or am I still confused, like when I was a child and tried to run away with dogs I knew would be shot in the morning? Well, we're all damaged, we're all somewhere between the foot of the mountain and the summit. Some angels blow you, some make you laugh, and some make you feel like you don't have die on a cross every goddamn day. Is it like that then, you and I? I write in the broken rocker, late afternoon, exhausted from reading and teaching, while in the kitchen below me you chop eggplants and peppers and - yes - sweet potatoes. It was always long odds we'd make it to here but make it to here we did. Perhaps dying will be like stepping outside into the light and noticing someone has saddled the horse for you - all that's left is to mount up and ride away. Or did I die a long time ago and this is the gentle purgatory through which you lead me, cry by cry, poem by crappy poem, in this late - and getting later - New England winter.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Perhaps Our Finest Solace

Is it always late afternoon? I grew up in a world where there was never enough time and memory was a black hole that swallowed the living. The guns are gone but in another sense, the guns will never be gone, ever. We stacked tires down behind the barn, using them later to hold down canvas tarps protecting (poorly) the hay from rain, sometimes overturning them to look for snakes and worms. Death is not even an outcome, let alone an obstacle! How quietly Bronson Brook flows through the dingle, even in winter when I visit, a stranger now, albeit one with stories. Hawks and owls float over the pasture at all hours, eyeing the neighbors' lambs and chickens, settling on the broken maple, still and alert, as befits both royalty and hunters. We work through yet another version of the difficult conversation, arriving nowhere save gratitude for the other's nearness. Marriage at a late stage of the world is perhaps our finest solace? One combs through ancient texts in search of advice, finds nothing but the same old promises. How brief was the interval behind childhood and old age! I'm like a scarecrow who's never seen winter but still knows winter is coming.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Off to the Forest

In the photograph she turns to the right, where the light is, and where her eyes are hidden from me, a black strap nestling the soft flesh of her shoulder, the seam of her breasts meeting near the center of the photograph. A lot of fear about performance disappears in the performance, as if the future itself were the problem - not the various presents of which the future is comprised. Well, we get close to things and our breath catches but then it's off to the forest, off to the river. Ten thousand poems and not once did I see her shirt sail through the room like a relieved ghost, feel her hand on my thigh as she steadied herself leaning. Ben asks if I want to fish for shad this year and I shrug. Last fall hunting quail reminded me of my fundamental aversion both to death and loud noises. Not everything has to come off, lest we run out of stories. The gift proper was always the halo of my attention in which the Lord arises through no effort of my own. Well, it's not for everyone and I'm not either. I keep putting off the inevitable as if certain women are going to suddenly see through their wedding vows to the sacred river where I've been working as a ferryman for twenty thousand years. Heraclitus visits - Pan and Thoreau and James Hillman, too - but I'm after something else now. A partner for what happens when you walk away from God? A helpmeet for the little shed when I sleep when the ferry's in the dock? Or is there a clearing in a forest in Vermont somewhere that waits patiently on us to make the other naked and take the whole of them in our mouth in a salty - a most thunderous - amen?

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Many Collapses Lie Just Ahead

On Sunday I helped Jeremiah replace the pickups in my old Martin Stinger SSX, our shoulders bumping as we leaned over the guitar. When I was little, Dad traveled to Vermont to study stone-cutting because it was the ancestral calling abandoned by his uncles. You have to understand how what shows up in your life as a story really is just a story that could be ten thousand other stories and yet might be. By mid-morning the sun burns away the cold and the world gives off an air of winter giving in to spring. These poems are partially a matter of seduction and partially a matter of building consensus for the many collapses which lie just ahead. Bad men keep other bad men away from the door, sure, but good men say there's another way and then try to enact it in and for the collective. On the table before me as I write: the box that held Jeremiah's Fender '57/'62 pickup set, a plate of spaghetti squash seeds and a plate of pie pumpkin seeds drying so we can plant them when the garden thaws, a book about how to make flowers out of paper and the green loose leaf binder into which Chrisoula and I have been stuffing recipes and notes-towards-recipes since 1996. Life is an appearance to a self that is not separate from the appearing but believes it is, else why would the appearance matter the way it does? The Man without Shoes - who is also the monk cheerfully breaking his vow of celibacy - who is also the designated driver of so many Emily Dickinson readers - laughs more than you think. All these bodies shrugging out of clothes, all the leftovers we reheat for lunch. Between the first cup of coffee and the second it all becomes clear. I could not be happier than now, with no real plan for whatever comes next.

Friday, April 10, 2020

I Swallow the Light Hungrily

Morning stillness, smoke hanging low across the village, the fields bereft of the blue light to which our Augustinian hearts aspire. Lambs tip-toe after their Mamas over crusty snow, while the lamb-colored crescent moon appears to gaze at us all enacting yet another morning in a crumbling empire, a dissembling patriarchy, a distracted technological culture. My arguments for and against the Lord are both the Lord but in a way that I cannot yet bring forth in language, a failure I may take with me into death. The old parsonage, which is presently our home, begins falling apart and we discover antipathy where we had hoped to become caretakers. When unhappy, I often picture Ascutney rising in its jagged way off the sloping hills of lower Vermont, and when desolated I drive there and climb it. We do what works and yet begin to sense the presence of a director for whom "works" means something different altogether. The water boils for tea, the mail comes, the roast thaws. We slip into the pantry, she leans on the first cupboard, long skirt hiked and reaches under and behind both to guide and pace me inside her. To be so foolish on such a stage - what could possibly justify it? The horses paw snow, snorting as I throw them hay. In the distance, a crow executes a broad circle, coming to rest on the dead maple just beyond the pasture, eyeballing the compost's delectable remains. As a prism for Jesus, I swallow the light hungrily, trusting the interior to rainbow.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Creatures by Whose Grace I Live

How patient you are who read these sentences, allowing me to draw my tiny breath in the chambered vault of your attention.

How sweet you are to forgive my obsessions, seeing past them to the One in whom what is given is given freely and forever and always to all.

How grateful I am for the broom by which the Lord's choir loft is cleaned and prepared for those whose voices are given to the Song.

How happy I am with the tedium of sweeping and with the metaphor by which happiness itself is at last revealed.

When I am finished with my work, I walk a long time through the village, head down so as not to trouble the worthy with my neediness and greed.

At night I bind myself to sacred texts and dream of the creatures by whose grace I  live - bees and chickadees, horses and trout and crows.

When I was young what died made clear it would not come back and so my theology was bitter from the start.

I took my books to the barn and read aloud to the cows who were doomed.

I took my lunch to the enormous quartz rock in the pasture and ate there in quiet awe and what could not be killed but only buried.

When it rained I went into the forest and listened to the rain and the light.

When it snowed I went into the forest and listened to the snow and the dark.

When night fell I carried my dream of prayer into a dangerous bedroom and slept the way one sleeps when their sleep is not their own.

When he raised his fist I pleaded.

When she choked me with bars of soap I begged.

The God of my Ancestors wept for seven years and a thousand fecund turtles were born in the oceanic tears.

A black bear god agreed to be make himself visible at regular intervals.

Trout allowed if I ate them the rainbows that comprised them would not leave me but be filters unto my vision.

Beauty brought forth a new God whose blessing was whatever crappy poem I could manage and whose joy was knowing that no poem in His name was ever crappy.

I stumbled through a long penance into a light I remembered but did not create.

Therefore, when I say "alleluia," I mean alleluia.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

In the Divine Partnerlessness

Yet ask: before the face of God, which is not hidden from us but which we nevertheless steadfastly insist on not seeing, can we say with integrity that we are just and kind? I chop the remaining tortillas and fry the pieces in oil, scramble a couple eggs with cheddar and garlic, mix the whole of it up with salsa and eat alone at the dining room table. "You must be new here," is what I hear a lot, to which I can only reply "well, yes and no." Over the first cup of coffee and before anyone else awakens, what I call "prayer" is so translucent and pure it's like I'm a prism given to refractions of Love. The man who grumbles doing dishes, who sneaks around rather than scrub toilets, whose reading might be better named "skimming." So I'm confused, so what? The Lord is a handy moniker for what cannot be named but which paradoxically only reveals itself to that-which-cannot-help-but-name. It's not that I'm happy without you but that happiness in the best sense cannot be conditioned on specifics. On my end I'm looking forward to violets and listening to bees as they hum between apple blossoms. Whither love, whither indifference. In the divine partnerlessness, shall we rise and name our rising a dance?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Greater than Mere Gift

Practicing the low D whistle in the back room, the heater rumbling, the occasional crow cry filtering in. One fumbles through the art, doggedly pursuing a minimal ideal this time hidden in certain Irish folk tunes. I have been happier than this but also sadder and no longer profess a God to whom my grief or joy or confusion matters. Those raggle taggle gypsies are never not gathering under her window, as I am never not chased by the quiet providers who in their honor misread their woman's longing for God. Still, what the body learns is for the body while the soul flies free of all restraints, circling the earth like a warm breeze. Winter is endured largely via dreams of violets and bees and apple blossoms. To live in a world in which it is possible to see a black bear tumble across the trail before you is so much greater than mere gift I almost cannot bear it. This wordiness is a curse that makes everything beautiful whore itself (as if desire were God itself rather than an energetic angel witnessing unto the refulgence of God). You'll have to forgive me my dears for confusing you all with a light that never actually inhabited your breasts or shoulders or thighs. We're on a narrow path now that permits neither sex nor return nor second chances. I'm not quiet exactly - let alone allowed beyond the sacred foyer and its jumbled icons - but it has become possible to heed the lessons of solitude. Once you taste the apostleship, the alternatives are rancid indeed. Uncountable blessings unto you for that transgression in the garden which I could not have managed alone and without which our shared dream of Love would not be possible. We who slip away into separate cloisters, copying texts it took others a thousand lifetimes to create. The choir lofts my love, they do not sweep themselves-o.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Beyond Sex to Our Shared Need

My feet sink in crusty snow leading the horses deep into the pasture. Wind blows through seams in my coat and the cold goes with me, mocking every fire. A mighty bellows breathes me into the universe yet I curse the day I was born.

One does have to question the woman who equates her gift with Vesuvian pleasures, yet also has to allow her the answer which she does not withhold. Hills float across a frozen landscape, bemoaning the starving deer who falter under snowy pines. Vermont breathes me and briefly my prayer becomes a plea: oh when will the Lord consent to my going home?

Chickadees preen in sunlight as if arguing on behalf of giving the side yard lilac another season to try its feeble blooms. When I err, I apologize and yet somehow go on in error. What church spat me out, what confused wolf raised me?

The horses exhale noisily attending to the hay I toss on crusty snow just beginning to acquire the sacred blue light of dawn. A woman smiled at just the right time in my life and instantly a theology of prisms appeared fully-formed in my mind. Go all the way to the river and on its banks profess your love for the Lord, without worrying what judge is taking notes.

Ice floes the size of Fran's Chianina team now drift through the oxbow, harbingers of a spring that I still don't quite believe I'll see. The prayer is ongoing, as long as desire is ongoing and in this way our wordiness becomes a veil obscuring the generative object. She cries out when I come in her and for a moment I see beyond sex all the way to our shared need to release these bodies altogether.

Face the vast emptiness threatening your identity? In the back room I pour tea from a dented thermos and nurse an unfamiliar text into something resembling the psalms. "Ask not what Jesus can do for you but what you can do for Jesus" is quietly aggressive but not in principle unhelpful.

You'll have to continue to forgive me my dear, at least until I can find that little cabin up north. Ten thousand bowls of soup, not one of which takes the edge off this hunger for you naked in both body and thought.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Far Away and Fatal

Playing and replaying old records. In sunlight, the icicles make me happy even as the cold frightens me. So much of what is external can be written off as illusory but for some reason the weather feels like God to me. It's helpful to notice who we admire, who we mock and who passes without our noticing. My ineptitude in certain social environments has become noticeably worse on the north side of fifty. Goats bray in my dreams, silver minnows flash in buckets left on the porch. In a way, my grandmother will always remind me of willows, as in a way, willows will always remind me of distances I'd rather not travel but must. We buried the calves in burlap grain bags out behind the wild grape arbor. I'm not scared to die but only because something in me insists it is beyond both birth and death. Last night, walking west up Main Street, shoulders bunched against the cold, Venus was a gold fire just above the hill. The gift, as such, turned out to be similar: beautiful, far away, and fatal should you ever manage to reach it.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Death Takes Even Foxes

What's necessary vs. what's desirable. Well, death anyway, but in a manageable light. I gaze north through tangled hemlock limbs at dawn and remember what was lovely once, remember what was pure. For once the hay loft is quiet, its angles and declinations witness to what happens to any structure in the shaky box of time. At a point in my late twenties, foxes became a symbol of death but by my early fifties I could see that death takes even foxes. The temptation to make frost blossoms on the window a map of a sky I will see in another life. Between crosses, opening unto the end of anxiety, one begins again with incantations taught to them by the mothers. Remember fishing, the feeling of nibbles? How much is gone vs. how much remains: is that the way to frame it? I am haunted now by the man I did not become, chased by the one I will be. Here on the anvil, here in the sparks.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Jesus or Anything Other Magick

There are many answers to the question "who among us is saved," only one or two of which will satisfy. In a dream I live alone in Vermont, speaking at most once or twice a year, living on whatever I can grow in rocky soil. Her car leaves the driveway, leaving behind a quiet in which some vital recollection is possible. We are drained and displaced, even outside the church, we are exhausted by the intensity of His judgment. Yet better a defrocked priest than a monk who won't confess he doesn't want to be a monk. Or is my calling as yet to be determined? The lower I go into the watery swale the harder it is to believe that Jesus or any other magick is going to show up in a beneficial way. The decades are counted by chickadees who assure me all is well or will be when I am gone. The desired writing project remains elusive (though its soundtrack has been clear going on three decades) but one is ever given to the moon's peripatetic ambition, its habit of lighting up everything, especially snowy fields through which a fox trots, leaving a trail that confuses even other foxes. Everything changes, everything is gone? I sing the song I was given to sing, without considering who has ears to hear. Now what? Now who?

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Sense of Amethyst

The cards tell me nothing. Remember the onions at dawn, remember a sense of amethyst? Anger comes out of the hills and laughs at the gallows I insist was built for someone else's neck. Flames lick the horizon when we settle for the night, our bodies livid like stray coals. Why am I always looking up at the moon? What narrative makes its way through my bones, even as they decline to rest? Why is my jaw too tight for a song? I live in declarative sentences that speak mainly of the need to get away. Is a monastery somewhere missing a monk? Family is destiny, destiny an envelope into which the light is pressed. Whatever we celebrate is ash floating in blackness. Nobody likes to say it but in time, all wrecks become the ocean.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Light By Which We Enter Language

Walking west in mid-February, bright Venus over the neighbor's house, as if being lost were a thing of the past. Remember when people had baby shoes bronzed? Remember photographs that could be lost in a fire? A lot of what we've misplaced is our sense that anything can be permanent. Greek pillars in moonlight, confusion about women's bodies, especially in sexualized contexts. Some men find a corner and make it their home no matter how lonely or inappropriate, and those men are my brothers: disparage them and you disparage me. A cold wind is sufficient manuscript for the story I am telling. People who opt for cowboy hats, couples therapy, extra cream with their coffee. Let no lampshade dull the light by which we enter language, let no map deny it is itself within the territory it describes. Some invitations go unanswered, some are lost in the mail and some open unto countries only aliens could love. A song is whatever goes on without us, may we all rest in peace. Worthington has spoken: now comes the luminous quiet, now comes the dark the light is up against.