Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Lesser Heaven

Oh I am inside the wasp's nest now looking out!

Now I am a single hard-boiled egg.

A cricket, a crow.

Now I am a bald eagle hunting you over the oxbow.

Can you feel my hunger?

Can you feed my hunger.

Whose husband am I? Whose help-meet?

Whose body is my classroom? Whose thighs tighten on me coming. Who muffles her cries against my throat coming. 

Two years now, a single maple leaf wedged between panes of glass in the bedroom window.

The world I am loath to disturb. For which I became a song.

A lesser song of a lesser god in a lesser heaven.

Oh but imagine me as violets!

Imagine me at dusk trembling touching the violets. 

I tremble to touch you.

In the swamp off Flat Iron Road a red-winged blackbird, first in almost a decade, reminding me how hard we try, coming back to us over and over in image, story and vow.

Oh my God let me learn to let love be love and joy, joy.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Giving Up In You

"For no one knows the hour at which I come."

Yet one does know who has arrived and what gift they bear, doesn't one, for this is love: this love, and only this is love.

For this my knees were made.

For this the earth and my knees shall be one worship. 

So swimming in you. Listening to loons in summer dark in you with you. Moonlight rippling on our bare shoulders grazing kissing in you.

Loving in you the lakes in you.

Entering you already in you.

Listening to Dylan while traveling west, early seventies stuff, his family stuff, singing in you coming home in you the song in you.

Already one, already this love.

Already always this love.

Tulips in you, honey bees in you, marriage in you, infidelity in you, what is new in you. 

Hurting in you and healed in you and beyond help in you.

It is written we shall be lucky in prayer and unlucky in love for so long as it is bodies to which our longing points and yet "and yet" in you.

Giving up in you.

All up in you, in on you, all all of you.

My tongue in you in the forest in you to make all birds sing in you and all rivers say amen in you and sunlight say hallelujah in you.

Rising in you with her in you who was always in you, and always you, always.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

That Which Remains A Secret

The murderous enormity of my pain and anger, which Christ gently asks me to give Him as a gift, which offer I cannot believe is real. After days of sun, rain clouds move in, and one writes quietly with their coffee, alone again. 

I reject as "love" that which remains a secret or illicit or even negotiable.

Death, like sex, feels like an objection to the terminal nature of bodies, one that we are together meant to elide. 

Various paint stains on my jeans, witnessing the many projects my hands have attended over the years, inartfully but faithfully. They say when are you going to get a dog again and I have no answer because the answer I have is not the answer they want. Samuel Barber's understanding of sadness. 

Apple blossoms, annoyances, announcements, annuals, ant hills, annuities, antiphons.

He talked about the ruins of his marriage and as I listened a sparrow hopped along the river bank, not distracting so much as enhancing, as if reminding me of something I'd long ago forgotten. Sharing a joint by the fire, not talking, just now and then leaving the unity of our nestled body to throw another log on. 

Sparks hurl themselves toward heavenly stars and fall back into our fire.

How in certain traditions vomiting is "getting well."

Slow-drying macadam, light breezes. How inevitably we disappoint one another, and yet go on together, lovers.

Frying breakfast sausage over low heat, listening to the kids argue about what constitutes "funny," grateful for their intelligence but also lost in my own kitchen, my own family.

Hungry but not for anything I know how to cook.

Churches are empty now. Hell spews fire trucks into our brains which, lacking Emily Dickinson's clarity, are receptive to such damaging energy.

The nineteenth century was ten thousand years ago, and I am only just now seeing this.

This slow coupling, soft opening, this rest in thee.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Spiral, Expansive, Repetitious

Apple blossoms just visible from the bedroom window where I make myself write. Something blurs in me, or softens. This lifelong inability to discern between bird song and morning, as if the one were the other, or discernment altogether were an illusion. The many uses to which "care" is put. Caution.

Crashing? Always the sense one is moving into a vacuum, a tremulous future, a horizon that is unlike anything you've ever known. Once I did. What does so-and-so want to hear vs. what do you need to say vs. what happened? Heat rises in the parking lot and a crushed Dunkin cup scuffs between cars. I try too hard to not try too hard. 

Iced coffee in Brattleboro near midnight - walking by the river - the end of our friendship still a few years distant - under stars.

Sick sometimes, or worried, or just tired and "relax, I'll get to it." Dandelions in the backyard where we work silently building a fire pit from found material. Sentence structure becoming a challenge again or is just that all our living is spiral, expansive, repetitious. 


In the garden, near where the kale comes back, half a robin's egg, its luminous blue mocking my insistence on the Lord. I did not ever want to be kissed good night (for good enough reasons) and so became a man who wonders what it's like to be kissed goodnight. How silent the inside of a mailbox is when the moon is full. 

And the moon, and her shoulder, and the tides of us.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Hunger and How to Eat

Snow squalls in early May. Inside, outside. The thing about witches, they understand both hunger and how to eat. A little blue. 

Jesus weeps where the wetlands opens into pine forest, shadows one never reaches the end of. Near supper time the barn grows quiet and still, and I lay down on bales of hay and close my eyes. Some of what passes for prayer may be prayer, but more it's just the brain unspooling in pictures and words. You look in the mirror and what do you see?

The sky pulls back, clouds rush in. As a child there was this strange relationship to trains, one that has survived into adulthood, evidence if evidence is needed of past lives. Dan points to the dulcimer and asks do I want him to repair it and the silence - brief, intense, pregnant - speaks volumes in answer. Selah. 

Want. As the course points out, we are built to give thanks, and nothing else becomes us. Boxes of apples in the hay loft, potatoes and onions. The Kiss tie I wore to prom in 1983, drunk and happy, though Steve died two weeks later of cancer. The history of baseball, slavery, Gatling guns, nations. I am here for you, and all that you offer.

Remember when we quarreled? I've got crucifixion on my mind again, I've got these nails I never know what to do with.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Resting Place

From high up in the maple trees, dying from decades of road salt, dead branches whistle down in high hard winds. A casket is a secret not a resting place, as this poem is a promise not to close until you're ready.

One yearns to climb Ascutney today, yet knows doing so poses complications to the family dynamic (as all travel plans must), and so refrains. Sunlight melts snow that fell near dawn. All our hearts are cleared of ruin.

In what church - under whose tutelage - did I learn not to trust the body's joy? The side yard lilac bush - which last year did not bloom - nearly reaches the second story. Yet another pair of shoes slides into a state of disrepair from which they cannot be saved.

And all Creation a gift.

Whatever is lawful, whatever is blessed, whatever it is. One can read too much into anything as the world is forever offering itself as a text to be constructed, deconstructed and constructed yet again. "Soon," whispers the Lord, sounding like He means it for once.

We wait until late afternoon to walk, agreeing the light on the river is more pleasing then. We are one but not the same, and we do hurt each other, and only we can heal us. Snow on the forsythia, your name on my tongue.

Some of it makes no sense, and yet remains given unto us, as if the lesson were not intended to be understood in traditional ways. The artwork of children, the ongoing betrayal of decades-old vows.

What ends, what never ends.

This and that.

And you: always you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Grace after Sunrise

Hemlocks sway in light breezes. Sometimes it feels like the sky is close enough to kiss, close enough to whisper secrets to and know they'll be kept. I was a child once, and will be again.

Ravens pass, their guttural cries mocking our befuddlement, our leaden stature. The pond skiffles, fragmenting sunlight, and those who have headaches no longer have headaches. Study the sleep of dogs, study the waking of cats.

Morning passes. At the last second one finds it in them to witness unto the grace that is never not in abundance. She does not notice me noticing her, and does not care that she does not notice.

One adopts an attitude they secretly feel is becoming of a psalmist and instantly all the words dry up. The broken-hearted many, the open-hearted few. Cold drafts seep into the hay loft and the Man Without Shoes shivers while he writes which is, for him, a familiar way of writing. 

Who will say they are free of all filters? The hemlocks appear darker than usual with the sun behind them. Re-reading Joyce's letters, remembering sharing them with Dan, all those years ago in Vermont.

Drunk and high on the shore of Lake Champlain, singing Hank Williams songs, scared I won't find the next chord, and nearly always finding it. My grandmother's tea cup filled with moonlight on the back stairs, me sitting beside it, quiet and still, filling with grace. After sunrise, another cup of coffee.

What you need is an understanding of the fundamental inability to grasp anything. The image dies on the only altar imaginable. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

In Sunlight the Boy Wept

Making love as a step unto the altar where the beloved is burned utterly and nothing remains but the Lord.

At night, silence is broken by spring frogs and the hushed river and occasional traffic on Route Nine.

There were pilgrims here once, beholden to concepts of God I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Before kids, we camped a lot, made love outdoors in the middle of the day - in fields, on the sides of mountains, the banks of rivers, and in an apple orchard in Whately once, giddy as dusk fell on our golden bodies. 




Looking up old lovers on Facebook and Google and finding nothing, as the women I have loved and not forgotten were headed somewhere different than this patriarchal hellscape and its technological catalog.

Willingness, humility, allowances.


Light enters and finds each nook within us.

The history of baseball, the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln's education growing up, Parson Weems, plantation culture in eighteenth century America, coffin ships, Africa.

Longing saying "okay, you got me - I suck - go ahead and be done with me" and so you commence longing for the end of longing, for what comes after longing.

Cold beers out in the pasture, cows coming and going around us, talking about our wives, our families, how everything here has changed but us. 

Dust motes in sunlight which the boy wept being torn away from.

Certain Stevie Nicks songs.

Twenty minutes until we have to go, and other promises we failed to keep.

Rip cords, umbilical cords, extension cords.

The heart a desert in which only certain can survive. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

When The Tangle Will Undo Itself

As if all that writing were a way of hiding the separated self, preserving it from the destruction wrought by the inquisition of awakening. The ever-luminous Anamika Borst saying "how wonderful that even from Nonduality/we can move on." We walked in a vast half-circle through old tobacco fields, the county fairgrounds ever in the distance, beckoning. When in afternoon the sun appears between fast-moving clouds, when at dusk you hear the mockingbird on the high black wire.

Oat pancakes with heated syrup. One is asked to be in relationship with all Creation, including paralysis, including deli meat. Crosses made of palms that every year grow a little more brittle. So there is no "us," so what?

Longing is a kind of pain, premised on absence, which is an illusion we presently opt not to see through. She clenched her fists coming, pounded the bed beside the pillow or my back or the desk on which she leaned. Who needs pictures. The days are snarled now, like yarn in wild raspberry thickets, and there is no indication of when the tangle will undo itself or end. Sunlight on the river, the backs of new leaves that in a breeze face the river.

In many ways, "yes" is a negotiation. Non-cat people marrying cat people and what the long-lost Egyptian gods and goddesses do accordingly in their intricate festive afterlife. I remember days when it seemed like remembering was somebody else's problem but the truth was, it was always my problem. 

Bach on bass guitar. Roast beef and bacon sandwiches on rye, eaten standing at the window watching snow fall through distant halogen auras. This man who, seeing a hot air balloon in the distance, grabs the woman he will marry one day and begins sobbing uncontrollably. As if "amen" were the end we all say it is. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

I Have Always Been A Little Sorry

Afternoon. The sky blurs, light falling off as clouds move in. Horses graze in the corner of the field we opened last autumn. Sometimes I forget what to capitalize, and sometimes I don't care. Angels before bed removing their halos, saying their prayers. I was older than all this once, and learned nothing special, hence this inglorious wordy return.

Remember walking once in Northampton and hearing a harpsichord and following it into the Unitarian church near Polanski Park? Jack Gilbert poems, for which I have always been a little sorry. 

Knowing what was going to die was a burden nobody bothered to help me with, perhaps because nobody knew it was a burden. Often, walking in the forest in late afternoon, you'd wonder what would happen if you just curled up and slept. Even our ideas are helpful, so long as you don't get hung up on claiming them. Room temperature whiskey, roach clips, and the understanding that somebody somewhere was paying.

The shade of green on Peter Criss's eye shadow. Longing hurts, waiting hurts. Feral cats creeping into the barn right before the snow begins. Remember lanterns?

Remember love? Nothing is separate or otherwise apart from anything else, yet it doesn't seem that way, and we make a lot of mistakes accordingly. One slips, one does. Oh Jesus, what is it with you and chickadees and hemlocks at dusk and women living thousands of miles away?

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Past Arrives Always

Places where no child goes. Places where no child should go but some do. Bluets where we stop mowing and the earth becomes wild. Bear tracks. How we walked in an enormous arc through old tobacco fields, talking about the Lord, the white-washed county fair buildings never coming closer. Homemade yogurt dressing for roasted lamb, the dill making us long for Greece. Our drives through the hilltowns, sharing tea with honey, and what we talk about. The past arrives always as a flavor in the present, a way the present has of organizing itself on our behalf. Hunkering on the ridge overlooking a moose hole, geese sailing across it, but nothing bigger. I, too, am lost. Near the bottom of the hill, half a dozen dandelions. Trying to remember was it yesterday or the day before we made love before the kids were up, and after cried because of all the mistakes we've made, and ways we've found to hurt each other, and yet.  

Friday, June 19, 2020

More Opaque Than We Know

One begins to sense in their living an abdication of moral responsibility, as if it were really were about survival only. Something other than forsythia erupts in the center of the straggling front yard forsythia, as if mocking one's inclination to respond to all things. What if Creation is itself broken? What if our language is even more opaque that we know? 

We walked in a large half circle - many miles - around old tobacco fields, county fairground buildings bright in the distance. What is it about the sky that makes us think we do not have to die? Banjos originate in Africa, which as Jasper says, merely testifies to the basic insight that we always end up in Africa. Missionaries, missionary positions, the many uses to which kneeling can be put. Lord forgive me my regrets.

Ellipsis. Eclipses. What is hidden and how hiding is itself a revelation. 

Ferns begin unfurling in the garden adjoining the driveway, intimations of a green profluence for the later ecstasies of summer. Have you tried Buckeye Purple?

Wading deep enough into the river to be "in the river" but not deep enough that my balls shrivel. Stars wheel through the sky a little before midnight, Luna owning the rusty tinge of menses. How tired one gets after a single glass of wine these days. How grateful I am in her glances.

For two days straight waking up after Chrisoula, making the bed despite my back, and leaning on the window after drawing open the heavy curtains. "How shall we improve the prayer" is the very reason we have to ask "how shall we improve the prayer." 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Angels Who Know Better

Little flowers blushing red and green in the compost.

Crepuscular branches light as air.

Interiors that expand.

Torn up, tossed aside, forgotten.

What I can explain and what I cannot explain, which is not at all related to what can be explained and what cannot be explained.

Pickup trucks, tire swings, coiled hoses.

Horses moving away from the fence, down a little slope.

Sweeping sounds on the back stairs, even when nobody is sweeping there.

Onions coming back, kale coming back, mint coming back.

Collard greens bright beneath early May sun coming back.

Cowbirds. Crows.

Folks arguing is this the parsonage or is the parsonage an even older building up the street as if "both" were not an answer.

Waiting on apple blossoms, bees, and writing outside.

Old friends.

Dad gone four years this August and I do hate to be the guy who says "has it really been that long" but has it really been that long?

"All of this has something to do with memory."

Aching shoulders, the pain reaching up into my neck and lower skull, which I briefly play with pretending is stymied kundalini.

What they called my grandmother because they could not pronounce her name.

Angels attend us, including angels who know better than we do what justice is, and mercy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Giving Up on Lost Sheep


Jasper does not return my calls nor visit. A new loneliness appears.

Old prayers. The Fall River orphanage my grandfather lived in. The past always asserting its vain and useless prerogative.

Newspaper clippings, grass clippings. We study the old apple tree, the merits of leaving it standing. Time passes.

Scavenging old glass on the river bank, going further than expected, yet coming up mostly empty-handed.

Blurred rainbows.

As we are mediated by our technology, we seem to become less attentive, almost as if giving up on lost sheep. Making love by the fire, half-drunk, quiet after, each in our own thoughts.

Purposes. Perambulations.

Plot lines.

Or perhaps we are angels navigating Purgatory in search of souls whose penance is over, and this is our last task before our own penance begins.

I was confused for years about the "second hand" on watches and clocks because of how hard it is to fully get past one's first understanding.

Women who were helpful but not the way they thought, who took more than was just, and still from time to time assert themselves in the old context.

Grocery carts with broken wheels dumped on the side of the road at the town line.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Fractures of Quartz Catching the Sun

Mahfouz urges us not to attend the past but rather the very presence of healing. Trees fall hard in the forest, we hear them from a distance, and walk quicker. There is no "away."

Beads of sweat. Interior fractures of quartz catching the sun. Beneath the rotting apple tree, evidence of woodchucks.


All the links constituting sexuality are established early, mostly before we become sexual, and so sex is a kind of discovery of what we are that is beyond our control. Broken shoelaces, broken beer bottles, broken hearts of broken cobblers, broken boys who both fear and long for what women want. 

The horizon is neither here nor there, yet we are allowed to talk about it: why. Forsythia bushes in early May, their blossoms a kind of soft foam at a distance, intimating what.

Speech declines what is offered by way of clarification. Traffic, everybody in motion, always the sense that getting away is possible, desirable, and yet.

Grit in the knuckles on my thumb.

Effort persists, effortlessly. At night he lies awake in the hayloft, searching the sky through dark windows, wishing there was another way. Who is happy, who is unhappy, who is stuck seeing who is happy and who is not.

Clocks. Feral cats.

Orchestral midnight, early May, dreams of you becoming old news in me always.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Door Writing Is

In writing, solace. In Spring - sometimes - mercy.

The children's voices rise muffled through bending floorboards, the whole house shifting as we speak. At night, stars trace invisible patterns in the sky, like lines on a vast palm.

What opens, closes, and what closes, opens. Back to Derrida, back to Barthes. Back to Foucault's The History of Sexuality. Back to the door.

Writing is a kind of salve, a voice in which parents and teachers and priests hide, and a pointer towards reading, which is the true salve. Hostas, forsythia, blue flag.

What shall we say to babies born today? Bitter revolutionaries.

Avoiding at all costs monologic ontologies. How we sound making love and laughing together after. Run off, the far side of the river, and spring peepers. Psalms.

In Spring one remembers what rises again. Where joy is absent, love remains oppressed. Prayer, prisms, probability.

Light the way it is, and the way it is not, which we say it is, to our detriment.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Men are Perilous Adventures

"Truth has no need of us" is not precisely the case as absent us, what truth? I do oppose monologic ontologies, but am wary of being used to advance dubious ends. Men are perilous adventures, the whole history of us makes this clear, and yet we go accommodating their  - our? my? - wars and machines and societies. Wanting you away from the world is to lay claim to a healing that perhaps was created to be public, general, for all The hayloft roof slants a certain way, peaks above narrow pine beams wrapped in blue Christmas lights. Sighs and cries and hungry kisses accentuate what. I mean to speak against "the tendency to lay claim to a certain spiritual state against the need for clarity in our troubled collective." Teachers, prophets, hucksters, wannabes. Lovers. Blue fades to the white, the profluence of light, yet white is never without a hint of blue. For all the trouble sex has wrought, we still show up for it, pulling our weary bodies into beds rendered briefly prismatic. One falls to sleep beneath fast-moving clouds eclipsing then revealing distant stars, the distance a dream any child could undo. I did once. Thus, this: this this.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

By Another Name

Our stories have become so much more complicated compared to say 10,000 years ago. Will what I call a chickadee ever go by another name? Will love? One exists in a world that can be mapped in many ways, and so one has to have a clear understanding about the distinction between maps and territories (and the attendant risk of being overly-clever). Even now, the longing arises in a specific way, asking to be met and satisfied in a specific way, only to arise again. Always ask: what is the underlying promise? Premise? Physically we are not different, hence our shared world. Rusty hemlocks at dusk, scrimshaw sketches on the blue iris of dawn in New England. Springs come and go, attended by the laws of space and spin. Mind has so much to chew on, and its chewing creates yet more to chew on. Yet it's possible to rely to much on "thus," both the word and the underlying concept. The organism and its thinking. The quiet in which bird song is simply more quiet. And you. Always you. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Mysterious, Implied, Et Cetera

You see we are made of witnesses, one after the other speaking quietly its truth. Night fell, a sliver of moon skipped over the tree line, and spring exhaled all at once. A dampness one could trail their finger over, a saltiness that was neither forbidden nor unwelcome. Around five a.m. birds begin, the specifically blue light of dawn arrayed on windows facing east begins. My prayer, as such, is a kind of drifting, my intentions ripples in a pool whose existence remains mysterious, implied, et cetera. The inclination to boast about spiritual accomplishment versus simply relaying what has been helpful in hopes it may function similarly elsewhere. Trucks cruise Main Street around midnight, the ones that on the back roads cast Bud Lite cans into darkness. May all men heal! May our suffering in general decrease! The dream gently shifts tenor now to make space for the one who does not sleep. It seems we are angling towards something - a kind of meeting, a kind of ritual - but perhaps this is simply how it feels to be embodied in such a narrowly sexual way. What fits, what doesn't quite fit, and what doesn't fit at all. One applies this then another frame over and over only to learn that they're not different at all but identical. I mean, this love is not mine, right? As this crumb, love, merely hints at a diviner loaf. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

My Life has been Wasted

In the hay loft a little after 7 p.m., last of the rain falling from hemlocks in which sunlight - last of the day's sunlight - brightens arching limbs. Have I told you how I love you, and how confused I am by this love? Mahfouz says that home is where all our attempts to escape cease but what about that to which we turn - that which we chase - over and over, year after year? Horses cry out in the distance, lambs bawl in the mud. As a child I told a lot of stories, and lost the ability to discern between them, and most of my life has been wasted accordingly. Even in your arms I am simply the idea of wanting understanding. Now and then you realize that silence as such is gone, replaced by thoughts about silence and, when they are briefly stilled, a ringing in the ears. Ever attended by angels, ever hounded by demons, all of them working together for the Lord. I pull my body out of one position, ease it into another, and write. Empty coffee mugs are my witness: I have no plans, no price, no prayer. Between one pause and the next, the Lord visits and gently reminds me He never said "suffer," never said "die." 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Memory of Kites

Two note chickadee songs, throwing stones, blue smoke where somebody's burning, tail end of the season, and a sentence or two for Bill Corbett who I did not know was dead. "Love," says the neighbor's bumper sticker, while one door down another reads "Trump 2020." The currents in the river are there to teach me about the patterns in this living. My living? Well, whatever nudges us in the direction of more.

Hand gestures attend the dialogue, the car passing too fast to infer anything else. J. calls and we agree to walk in "the meadows" on Monday, otherwise we deploy none of the usual code for psilocybin et cetera. Homemade lemonade, handfuls of granola, agreeing this afternoon we do the raspberries and tomorrow move horse manure. Did I mention the blue smoke floating over the break in the trees where Route Nine runs east and west? My hands move a lot these days - like birds or electrons - cracked skin, skeins of blood where the prickers bite. Spring, Winter into Spring and also, spring.

U.S. flags rifling in sudden breezes on the other side of Main Street. You notice being around more who takes care of their house and who lets it to go shit, so to speak. We are following something, or it feels that way, and if it takes us to Florida or the Canadian Rockies, then so be it. We who angle, who we make it about us, even when we're bent on all the others. Tiger lilies jutting through deadfall, a memory of kites. After a while, what's left to resist? Quarter past three, almost time to go.

A lot goes with us when we go, which is apparently going to have to be okay. It's easy but you don't really want it, which is why you're only sometimes happy, and other insights I'm too lazy to put into words.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Mostly Gulping Beauty

The bank calls with bad news, morning passes letting various projects go unattended, as if there were time, as if consequence really were just an idea. Two days ago a single merganser arrowed up the river where I sat quietly, pretending to pray but mostly gulping beauty through the idea of you. Liars incorporate, lovers undo. This: this this.

It rains and I wallow in the raining of it, unwilling to hurry now towards grace. Be not confused! The new hay is greenish if you squint, and lighter in your arms, but the horses are happy, so nobody complains. One accelerates towards orgasm, comes hard in her, and after feels hollow and lonely, between women, and done, mostly, with sex. Going out to help cut trees down two farms over, as if the body were trying to figure out its place in the world, and the kitchen (and the pantry off the kitchen) weren't it.

In enormous lilac bushes outside the town offices, robins pursue one another in light rain. Quietly judging the neighbor's houses, knowing that to do so is to judge one's own self, and helpless apparently not to. Be not given to the emphasis on joy as "getting what you want." Trees fall and we make quick work of them, dividing the burn pile mostly without speaking.

My hands are mostly braids of smoke now.

The one upon whom you project all that ecstasy struggles to sustain the burden, her already-fine writing growing finer, clearer, more helpful. Apparently we can fail, apparently we can lose! One begs forgiveness now because as a child then they did not. 

This is what I know, here in this body struggling to discern pleasure from pain, joy from sorrow, and what is true from what is false.

My body hurts in ways I cannot name, and thus goes on unhealed. Desire remains a poor guide. What is whole cannot be ruined, what can be ruined was never whole.

Morning then: this morning.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Both of Us Even Then

Wishes, wants. Whims.

Unwritten poems.

Because over and over the same mistaken emphasis on this or that form.

This or that image.

A religion premised on photographs, evidence, what I can see with my own eyes, and holes in flesh I can touch with my own hand.

Out back, the ponies nudge a bay of hale out of the run-in and into pale sunlight wrestling snow flurries. Winter into Spring. Spring.

Gun shots in a narrow valley, the echoes rattling my skull, my shoulder joint already pushing back against the rifle. John dead and Jesse dead less than two weeks apart, me and Sarah making love standing in the dorm stairwell at two a.m., drunk and stoned, awkward but kind, exhausted from crying, worried we'll die too, both of us even then wanting something - and someone - else.

Trimming forsythia, raking around the crocuses, waiting on blue flag.


First blow job was on the floor of M.'s living room next to the wood stove, both of us stretched out in darkness, risking and declaring and discovering. The bottom falls - always the bottom falls - and so we fall, always.

She pushes against me coming, the intensity surprising me, pushing me to come, harder than expected, sooner, both of us crying out softly, cries muffled in the other's nearness, nearby hemlocks blotting my view of the stars. Yet there was always the inclination to write poems, to somehow get closer and closer to what has always defied - playfully but unequivocally - description/explanation/etc.

Childhood was in part hidden guns, hidden whisky bottles, and an agreement not to talk about what was hidden (for much was hidden). Thus, years later, in other contexts, "where does your mind go?"

Always that dark forest past the pasture and barn, which went on for miles, where you weren't supposed to go without a gun, an eye out for witches, yet where I went, always, unarmed and in love.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Much is Holy

Reading Merton again, a guilty pleasure now, like John Denver songs and cannabis.

Crows fly over the pasture, three of them together, the fine black lines of their bodies blurred by snow squalls.

April always a month of waiting.

That line from - Isaiah? Jeremiah? - about how it is not by our wisdom that the hawk flies - to which one adds, nor apple trees grow, nor trout rise to feed, nor the black bear amble down hills towards the brook.

A little interior space in which one is happy, quiet, calm, unhurried.

Tides rolling gently over open beaches.

We whisper beside the fire - declarations, promises, questions - naked in old blankets, conjoined, moving in each other, sparks rising to stars a thousand light years away.

Willow trees along the road leading to pools in the river where I dream of falling in order to learn I am always floating in Christ Who is Love.

Slicing apples to dry, baking squash for bread and muffins, carefully measuring out chick peas to soak.

Meant to write "dead leaves" and instead wrote "dad leaves" and thought, okay, yes, that too of course.

Joe Roberts' oxen and how we walked behind them one afternoon, our roles (reporter/subject) blurred by our shared love of large quiet animals, dirt roads, local history, telling stories, et cetera.

We go slowly clearing the barn, sensitive to mice and rats who live there, skunks and ground hogs nesting in the crawl space, spiders and flies, coiled snakes awaiting June.

Half-smiles, hints of smiles.

What is after.

Hastily-poured tea carried to the fence line, gulped between sentences getting clear on how the goats broke out, crossed the stream, spooked the horses, trampled the spinach.

Uttering "peace be with you" like in the old days, but doing it rather as often as one remembers, exactly as if the church lived in you rather than you visit the church come Sunday.

Biography again, that old lie, that old dance by which the dancer forgets the steps but remembers the whole song. 

Late at night, everyone asleep, forcing myself to walk farther than I want, back aching, yawns that are practically gasps, the way I guess my dad did, and his dad too, going back God knows how far, all us men unsure what home is and how far away from it we have to get in order to repent enough to remember what is is and how to get back.

A juncture at which one realizes how "it gets better" is both a lie and the best you can do for the time being.

Yet this much is holy, for this much I know.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

My Role on the Road to Golgotha

Joe Roberts' oxen walking up and down West Street in a light rain, the two of us pacing behind, talking about the hilltowns in the 70s, and how so much of what we loved got lost, shunted aside, forgotten, et cetera. Often, I think of rainbow trout hovering in swift currents in Bronson Brook, nothing to them but their hunger, and wish to God I understood what it was in me back then that wanted them dead so bad. Loons uttered their strange song over Upper Highland Lake, you waiting on the shore for me to finish my midnight swim, me floating on my back unsure how far away the stars were. We christen last year's fire pit with a jug of wine, no glasses, getting tipsy enough to clumsily fuck, folded in a blanket, only later wondering who might've been watching from afar. How you come with your eyes closed, chin lifted, always transported, and how grateful I am, watching. How quiet they were, their heavy feet thudding in a slow ponderous rhythm lasting a thousand afternoons. Sometimes I feel like a man who was asked to carry a lot of coffins around, or am I the reincarnation of Simon from Cyrene, still bitter and confused about my role on the road to Golgotha? What's done is done, is one way to think about it, but at a late juncture one realizes there are others. I didn't sleep much in those days, got started drinking way too early, and developed a sad capacity for withstanding physical pain. One makes do. Doesn't one make do. One does until one doesn't, meaning the other comes along and says, "I know another way - come," and you do.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Old Testament Intensity

Perhaps there are no paths? Spring arrives oddly predictable, yet I can't escape this longing to sink into the river. Yesterday I walked two miles to its deepest swiftest pocket, perched on a rock and studied the currents with Old Testament intensity. Chrisoula wakes me to cry because of news from Greece, and I cry with her, both of us lamenting preventable deaths. In the garden, spinach breaks the dark wet soil, while on the horizon, dappled clouds pass like horses who have never seen a predator. The wind, my love, the wind! As a child I disliked churches but in my early twenties I grew ridiculously obsessed with them - stealing hymnals, copping quick feels with Kate in back and side pews, praying publicly, et cetera. When night falls, we pour cheap wine, and toast our integrity which always risks a dangerous poverty and has at last come face to face with its tormentor. So much happens without me, like growing up and dying, like winter disappearing later in April than you'd like. Is that a phone ringing? A letter arriving? One traces their hand on paper, then waits a long time to be clear: is it okay to color and what color shall we choose. The bottom, my dear: it rises to meet you and carry you home.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Corralling What's Amiss

It clears, the sky. My mother's voice on telephone growing thinner, like a pile of puzzle pieces mostly already used. The rocker creaks, skids a bit on the floor when I rise quickly, hearing tears. Between winter and buds on the maple trees. Between loves.

Navy beans, black-eyed peas, ground lamb and last summer's tomatoes, slow-roasted for hours while we sit around the kitchen talking. When was the last time the crucifixion as such mattered to you? The lure of what is illicit, which is merely another distraction. It's hard to read these days but writing does go on apace. Coffee in the barn before dawn, quiet joys that long to be expressed.

Carse's point that a) it does exist and yet b) cannot be expressed, to which assertion I am yet to give consent. Cybersex, which was like so much sex in my early twenties - drifting sadly through empty motions while the other gets off, gets close, gets snuggly. "Where does your mind go?" "To stars over Lake Champlain, to silences on the beaches there recalling me." One goes back to certain letters, reads and rereads them, as if trying to see beyond them to the intention of the author. Goats get loose, spook the horses, all of us running around corralling what's amiss. My thumb on her nipple and other tensions, swelling and ebbing, like the history of Poland.

Three days later the moth on the clapboard is gone, a sadness, a lost image that while it persisted related to resurrection. Old Joy. One fumbles at the door at night, not drunk but not sober, unclear are they inside or out. The hemlocks lean a little, a cardinal flies out of them, and so for a little while longer, it's okay.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

As If Dreaming Us

Snowmelt falling off the rusted tin roof of the neighbor's barn, so prismatic and rhythmic I get wobbly gazing and listening. For whom is the world such a delight? All these thighs opening, all these knees kneeling.

We talk about the middle child en route to Sawyer Farm to pick up beans, rice, corn meal, kale and pork. Blue Bud Lite cans sparkle in the dead maple leaves cramping the road from both sides. I have two hearts, and the second one is yours.

What does an apostrophe do that I can't? Before anyone else is up I lug my books to the living room reading nook and go as deeply as I can into the silence. Buds on the side yard lilac.

Bluets go back and forth between my two hearts! Sophia and I walk quietly out back to study the smaller horse's back legs which appear stiffer than usual. Willow branches out by the river, a softening that is reminiscent of grandmothers.

"Beautifully morose," a student writes, and instantly I know what to embody next. Ice chunks bob going down the river, whitish-blue in the green swells. How when the dogs barked it meant bears were drawing near.

She swallows, sidles, and the moon slides back to its familiar orbit. One grows tired of dreaming and yet the dream goes on, as if dreaming us, which in a sense, it is. Frozen blueberries with yogurt and honey.

The prayer, the passing, the possibility, the peace. Her letter arrives, necessitating changes I both knew and didn't know would help.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A Ripple in the Vast Cosmos

Because I must go on describing you - because you will not consent to let me see you - I am a wordy beggar in the Kingdom of the Lord (where silence is a law). Years ago, in Dublin, I studied a woman waiting for a bus, committing her to memory, and it was as if I were describing my own self, as if the image completed the description and not the other way around, though I did not understand this at the time. Snow falls from the gray sky in April - its actual origin obscured - and then falls from the side yard lilac and maples to the earth - and then over the course of a brightening afternoon melts. How else are we sustained, we whose imaginations are kin to God? These sentences are all the self there is, each a ripple in the vast cosmos of us, a little lick, a shudder coming. A text comes together under my fingers but the fundamental art remains incomplete. Can you not see this? Over the miles goes the low hum of desire, as decades later Hansel goes back into the forest, knowing full well that you can't murder witches but only please them and then hope that their pleasure is exculpatory. It is not our bodies that long to meet, but rather our stories. There is no structure! How long must I go on singing, how long will you leave me blind. The bus arrives: again I am alone.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Trying to Survive the Father

Shad thicken the river and I remember my father in 1971 holding me as I reeled one in: the fish pulls one way, trying to survive, the father pulls another, teaching his son how to kill. Oh mercy unto all these men who worship long-dry wells, whose worship is not ruined thereby! In the morning I work through a series of difficult prayers, being called to a kind of mental acuity balanced in the body that only black bears understand. Writing writing, as Gertrude Stein (may all praise and glory be unto the Mother) said. One regrets certain relationships yet accepts them, and yet still longs to express their longing in the epistolarian way it is given to them, yet cannot because everybody is still so determined to keep sex between bodies. Did we misuse the world "galaxy" at a critical juncture? Perhaps the universe is a simple come-cry, perhaps there is no void? The pleasure of the text, once pointed out, sufficed unto my desire forever, thus the law. What you know, you know, and what you don't know, you don't know, and there is no in-between. Despite being hungry, and smelling pancakes in the kitchen below the bedroom where I write, I go on in my wordiness, because that is how it happens and no body of consequence has ever wanted me any other way. How obedient I am! The photograph, the one in the photograph, and the one who beholds the photograph, are one.