Monday, November 30, 2020

Slow Tides It's No Good Fearing

Odd stars. Unfamiliar lights.

Coiled hoses.

Benevolent cephalopods float through my dreams, guiding me back to the world of the living against my wishes, leaving me with gentle admonitions like "do the best you can!" and "you're doing a great job!"

Not even 5 p.m. and the skies cloud over and rain flies here and there, small hard stones flung from Heaven.


Heaven and all this darkness.

Sleeping sitting up on the couch, in and out of hazy dreams in which the dead visit, make half-hearted arguments about the existence of God, and wander off unconvinced.

Losing years. Losing rosary beads.

Floating away. Rose petals on slow tides. It's no good fearing drowning, no good getting attached to this or that oar.

Putting together sentences, one after the other, year after year. Reaching periods, then silences, then what is beyond silence. 

Picking up my mother at the airport.

Inserting chaos into what is already ruined.

The front lawn of the Cambridge Public Library.

This longstanding law-abiding confusion.

Call it home, this waking her up for help.

This lost in what was given in salvation.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Consumed in the Many Furnaces

The neighbor's chimes, a loveliness in pre-dawn darkness as I go about my chores - hay for the horses, checking fence lines, talking in low tones to the blind one, checking traps, then coming indoors to a next cup of coffee. The soul is bundled up in a body yet like a shock of wheat yearns to be consumed in the many furnaces that together comprise the world. What they used to say about how it works if you work it. What is your worth and who establishes it? Morning light in north-facing windows, the hemlocks still for the first time in three days, and a good enough bunch of poems, fruits of a lifelong disciplined practice. Once you set a goal of truth, what happens? Who is with you? Who pulls away? When you call, I am here, and yet it is not enough. Candles, catch-alls, catacombs. My love is a long silence, my woman a lake with more on its mind than depth. "How" was always a better question than "why" upon "why" upon "why." This heart, it witnesses thusly.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Body of Christ is Flowers and Birds

Hemlocks in heavy winds bending, the branches wrong-side up, storm-tossed, wind-whipped. 

Briefly, the machine of my body stops, and a gold light appears, like a dab of oil paint leaking through thin canvas.

Gulping coffee in the barn between chores, no end to the tiredness, and no end to the chores, and no end, apparently, to coffee.

A ceramic tiger that was on my father's book shelf as a child, and which is now on my writing desk, confounding me in ways that do not resolve easily through language, to which I will not yet nor thusly say no.

Saying yes, no, whatever, and knowing it's all the same.

Your shoulder, the light on your face.

A crucifix on which the body of Christ is flowers and birds, bright colors, everything blossoming, as befits the way this one man's end became the beginning of ends altogether. 

Crying out making love and after kissing you gently, saying "thank you" over and over, until you shush me.


How I wrote once that "in the silence, fireflies whisper, molten love notes to winters long gone by." 

The wind softens and the hills curl up like dogs at my feet. What texts do you save and which do you forget exist?

Where is what you have forgotten exists?

What are your outdoor sleeping preferences.

Facilitating the other's masturbation, another kind of loving and helping.

Acclimating, according.

Harmonicas dented thirty years ago on roads between England and Scotland which my son still from time to time pulls out and plays.  

Outcomes, off-ramps.

How confused I was for over forty years about the gender of the individuals holding up a Kiss sign on their first Alive album.

At last there is no longer any menu.

Friday, November 27, 2020

In the Troubles

Rain slows and it's mid-morning. Spiritual alms barely recognized. Rust-colored maple leaves fallen on the shiny black macadam. Corn stalks droop, lashed to a porch rail, sad and forgotten, facing winter alone. My father and how he loved old cars and how I would take him to antique car shows, the two of us walking back and forth, lost in thoughts of our own making. At a late juncture one realizes an affiliation with wrens helps more than the one with chickadees and wonders what other insights lie ahead. Department store Christmas carols. Masked angels. Rabbit stew, breakfast sausage made with bear meat. Losses, lawfulness. Lauds. My heart lives in the troubles and declines all aid and yet goes on. When you heft the lamp, how far does its circle of warm light go? Broken, unbroken, put back together - who can say at this late and getting later juncture? I remember hours alone on the shores of Lake Champlain, gazing at faraway New York, rehearsing even then my relationship with distance. This prayer like the others goes unanswered. And yet.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Abandoning Metaphors

A sound buckets make in November when water freezes at their brim. A sound goats make when they're lonely.

Sunflower stalks rotted and bent but still upright in the cold sun.

How my heart presses the case for solitude, teaching and quiet.

Still hemlocks at 6 a.m., light filtering through tendril limbs. Empty bottles on the window sill. All the containers we will never fill.

Vespers, lauds.

How my heart seizes and cries, as if pleading with me to renounce certain vows and adopt certain others.

Lost in being lost, alone in being alone. 

Quarter moon on the hill, a bag of black stones, a flurry of seeds and soil in unexpected places.

A sound November makes that is close to a sigh. Whisky, brandy, vodka, wine.

Glass tear drops hanging in east-facing windows. Grief and the alliances assembled on its behalf.

How my heart will stop one day, abandoning metaphors, and how what always goes on will go on.

How you say it when you know you don't have to say it any longer.

Footsteps on the stairs, books stacked on book shelves.

A moment of prayer. A mild repetition.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

One I am Still too Scared to Name

A voice asks: what would it be like to hurt less? Another voice - low, hard, cold - says the hurt will stop when it says it will stop. In the interim, this law of childhood: "You'll take it because I'm giving it."

Complicity abounds yet a new Justice is given, embodied in one I am still too scared to name.

When I try to pray now, I fumble for words and end up in tears. When I try to sing my voice ages in my throat and emerges thin and ancient like a snake skin. Everything spills out of me as if I were not a chalice but merely the idea of a chalice. Not an altar but where an altar might go, were one inclined to altars.

Faint light illuminating the different darks of sky and hill. Certain violent cousins, certain ongoing threats in the context of family, and certain kinds of dying. I let go of Emily Dickinson who is grateful because it allows her a little rest, all she ever wanted.  

The afterlife is real.

I expected interventions - like symbiotic mushrooms or the Holy Spirit on Sunday - and that was why I agreed to stand and not deviate from fear, but no intervention came, save Jesus sadly bearing witness to my suffering, much the way the Magdalene bore witness unto him when he was crucified.

I live now in deserts of Holy Relationship, locusts and wild honey, blessings which are the river pulling me under and fire converting me to something so light it floats to Heaven unaided. 

You are Christ now. You are the light. 

Do not - for my sake or anyone else's - forget who you are.

You lean with me into the salty currents of the interior Jordan, you ask me not to leave you alone in the bland crucible of history.

In your heart I relearn that I am not given to hammering swords into plowshares but rather seeing past sword and plowshare altogether.

We are a little fire on a darkling plain, and the horror that stumbles out of Bethlehem does not frighten us, and we are older than the stars, and the stars are here to learn from our love, and they do learn, Beloved, they do.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

What Collapsed after Albany

Snow on the pumpkins, on frozen ridges of mud, prints formed by horses pacing in the night.

Women I help, women I haunt, women I hold apart from what helps.

Does order matter, after all? Does it help to use the word "atom" in a sentence?

What collapsed after Albany? What secret vow was made in the church basement while up above other, more breakable, vows were being made publicly?

November stars and what else.  

In a dream my father asks what I think it is that can be pulled together at such a late and getting later juncture and we rest together in the darkness, complicit in all that is implicit in us.

Minnows flash silver in moonlight under willow trees.

The fire crackles and our faces grow hot.

Family stories, some as yet untold.

Sitting quietly with coffee upstairs, mostly gazing out the window at traffic on Main Street, now and then writing a sentence, as if what mattered mattered more so given language.

Picturing you coming with other men, glad the end of suffering is drawing nigh, hoping in the end your happiness will make it all worth it.

Glades in which deer rest. Photographs of horses. The futility of little notes.


Psychological islands, psychological ship wrecks, psychological Gilligans. 

Pushing up through sex to find something holy that remains rooted, and fighting to not fight the God of Letting Go, in whom all sex comes and goes.

This loneliness, this bad luck, this metaphorical broken heart no so metaphorical.

Monday, November 23, 2020

House, Family and Wife

Letting go.

Having nothing to say.

The interior silence yielding to the hymnal heart.

The stillness of the Holy Spirit choosing for me.

You. You and what I am becoming in You.

What I am letting go of in you.

The softness, the sadness.

Streams beyond the pasture freezing before the river.

Other errors arise, other sweetnesses appear.

Other tangles.

I turn certain lights on at 2:30 a.m. and leave other lights off. Inside me, the dark is unaffected.

Prayer is a form of intentional forgetfulness.

The confusion of how to say things, the uncertainty around staying silent.

Plans, plots. 

Alive in possibility, including the possibility of no-possibility.

Snow spitting in pitch dark off Flat Iron Road, hours after sunset, walking farther and farther away from house, family and wife.

Forgetting forgetting.

Who forged the container, who left it where they did, who came along and filled it, who is it watching me to see will I pick it up?

Sunday, November 22, 2020

In the Rain to get Clear

History is cruel because it does not let you sleep. Uneven bricks in the central chimney, and in the basement, boulders that were allowed to remain because the oxen were tired at the end of the day before they framed the massive walls. 

Cheap whisky in the dark. Stolen pennywhistles.

Listening to traffic on Route Nine in mid-November, thinking of all travelers, and all the miles, and all the ways that we pretend we are not already home.

Listening to us kissing.

Snow on Starkweather Road in early Spring, the impulse to frame it all as a story with a happy ending. Rotting pumpkins on the compost, dependable crows.

Walking in the rain to get clear and meeting at last, in a real and unambiguous way, the Holy Spirit.

When I think of you now, you are nearly all light, and I know that you don't yet get this, and I also know that you will, and there is nothing else I want for you, or for me.

Pizza with fried eggplant on it. Seinfeld reruns and Carolyn's insights into absurdist comedy. When you talk about narrative, my heart stitches itself back into what resembles the world a little while longer.

The sound of lentils being poured into a colander to be washed. The sound of my mother singing Christmas carols alone in the kitchen, 1972 or so, and what I learned therefrom about happiness, holidays and holiness.

A little grace is all grace.

Turtles, tall tales, Telluride Colorado.

Late frost on maple leaves piled in the side garden. When grass grows, the soul remembers there is neither here nor there. 

Laying out a blanket under starlight, folding my sweatshirt for under your head, letting night be night, and love love.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

A Long Way with only Forest

At six a.m. the blue pitch of dawn is my heart shedding Christ. 

Carefully setting crystals on the stumps of trees in order to heal what fells and what has fallen.

Roads that go a long way with only forest on either side.

Hats my mother's father wore.

Sleeping with the cobbler's son, not telling him where sleeping with him ends.

Midnight on the train in Greece, Athens behind us and you asleep, and me facing the early lattice of marriage on which strands of bittersweet would eventually grow gnarled and ruinous.

You only think you're a body.

Drops of yesterday's rain still resting on the side yard lilac. Puddles outside the transfer station that reflect the reddening sky.

You can't get closer in a poem than you can on your knees and yet.

We who are yet learning how to pray.

Cosmos is Longing.

I slip near the barn, right myself and draw a breath before going on. 

Everything that died when I was young, taking me with it into the void from which I clawed back, time after time, not knowing that the void, too, was my home.

The descent into relative minors which in the summer of 1988 in Burlington Vermont reconstituted my heart in ways it would take decades to understand.

Watching hills wondering what they say of the women beyond them.

A series of abstractions which are insufficient on their own to affect the requisite reversal of cause-and-effect. 

How frightened I was cleaning guns, knowing at a young age that "accidentally killed while cleaning his gun" was a metaphor for suicide.

Background vocals.

Forgetting what I meant to write, staring out the south-facing window a thousand miles, past prison yard and gallows, past even the idea of freedom, to you.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Such a Mighty Flood

Cars pass and I lift my hand, not caring who it is who is passing. Who is not my brother and sister? And: this love cannot exclude a soul. The far field, the trail in the forest. The quartz rock glistening with rain which as a child I carried five miles from the river to my bedroom. When I was young we carried guns picking blueberries because you didn't know if you would see a bear. Did some of us just like guns? The host on my tongue never wasn't mass-produced at a factory in Worcester - why else did yearning decouple from a particular church? There is later and later yet but not always the one who notices. The force that through the green fuse drives the flower, indeed. Walking up Flat Iron Road, I pause where it crests the wetlands and watch beavers float quietly between early winter cattail. There is yet more pain, there is yet more suffering, and yet. When my heart is still - when it overflows with love for her - the world is suffused with rain: this is how I learn how little I have learned. What a little boat we are! Such a mighty flood my love we are up against.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Chalice You Are

I want to drink from the chalice you are until my throat cries out for mercy.

In the morning the quarter moon glides knifelike through trout-colored clouds. My brain empties of both prayer and the idea of prayer.

I have nothing but this longing for you, am nothing but this longing.

The landscape is moving faster now, trains bearing down on me in darkness.

My heart is hymnal, happy, horticultural.

You were in the corner of the cafe once, reading Neruda, and did not once look up at me loving you so deeply that the world ended in me and was born again on terms and conditions so lovely my heart became a crystal lattice full of rainbow-colored roses swaying in light breezes.

Whispers, worships. 


You crawling on all fours up the bed towards me waiting, breath quickening, parts of me weakening remembering what it means to be loved.

There are parts of Vermont that are all of you forever. There are hills I will never climb again but on my knees.

We break laws and realize there is only one law and it is us.

You were in the corner of the cafe once and Bob Dylan's Wedding Song came on and my life died and was born again as the coming-and-going coming and going.

Those who practice the sacred embrace will kindle the Light. 

Taking your hand in the candle store, in the book store, in the bakery where we cannot decide what to buy and the tired woman waiting on us gazes out the window, thinking of her love. 

First and last, one without a second.

Your shadow on the bedroom wall merging with other darks. 

It has to do with forgetting.

My love, my lover, my letting go and letting God.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Over the Miles Happy and Free

All at once the leaves fall and a deep circle - orange touched with gold - surrounds the young maple several yards away. Given distance, all things are familiar, monuments unto the justice of attention. Wind-blown jewels, snow-crusted lilies. The soft efflorescence of your nipples under a faded t-shirt. And was it, after all, a dream - being soothed by you, coming home to a fire with you, no longer being hidden in you? The holy octopus returns, this time in the form of a woman from Washington state, whose early forays in A Course in Miracles lit her heart without ever precisely conflagrating, and I am gently warned accordingly. Snow swirls outside at ten a.m., a kind of mist, a kind of cold. The world forgets me and I go on over the miles happy and free, like a cardinal who has learned what it means to be red.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Many Steps and Stops

Snow becomes rain and then - the sun a pale disc against gunmetal skies - snow again. Now you are the hill country through which I passed in loneliness in 1989. Skimming familiar sacred texts, knowing they say nothing that cannot be learned in the garden. Holiness is a concept that like all concepts must be gently let go in order to see what - if anything - remains. What remains. The horses wait impatiently for hay, which I carry, along with other burdens, most of them psychological, past the apple trees to the pasture. Certain desires fade as one recognizes her body for what it is in truth and are replaced by a determination to be kind, gentle, forgiving. A long journey includes many steps and stops, all of which rest on a single decision, namely, to go all the way to the end, even if that is the absence of ends. I have no home in this world, and no other world awaits, and that's okay now. It's more than okay. Because you. Always you.

Monday, November 16, 2020

My Throat by the Sea Pleading

October snow in maple trees as the sun rises, a loveliness amongst all this loveliness. I let you go, let us go, and I let me go and thereby learn there is neither "letting" nor "going" nor not letting nor not going. Old hens leave the barn slower these days, tilt their heads to look at the cold sky for long minutes, as if seeing something the rest of are missing. Death exhausts but no longer frightens me, and yet fear is not gone. You can play at anything but it's not really play, is it. One translates the letterlessness the only way they know. And the nineteenth century fades, leaving certain clarities about the ninth, your hot mouth on my throat by the sea pleading. Kisses, cough drops, curriculums. My life floats over the landscape untethered, milkweed down, a cardinal feather. Old bodies get cozy darkening. No promises but all this emptiness is a kind of disclosure, no? I remember crying in the hospital parking lot, then walking around the hospital not crying, then driving home beneath a full August moon reminding myself to breathe. Certain silences do not need to be prayed in. Certain women you can be grateful didn't make certain journeys. The metaphysics settle, the longing settles, and the settling becomes a quiet joy insisting on nothing, not even itself. And even so, even so.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

A Kind of Consenting

October snow.

Still maples in windless cold.

Still picturing your shoulders shrugging out of an unbuttoned shirt, then hunching forward to remove your bra.

Lights we are given, lights we give away.

Snow on the chicken netting.

Snow on the flagstones.

The silence of three a.m. on our little Main Street.

Going back to what we name the beginning, looking for clues to what happened after, finding this and that without any real sense of how to contextualize it, let alone let it mean something, or anything.

The east-side neighbors talking at the grill, their voices floating through glass, language resolving to nothing specific but still somehow a comfort.

One settles the metaphysics.

The body is a kind of flower, a kind of suffering, a kind of forgetting, a kind of giving.

A kind of consenting.

Saying no to a blowjob on the couch, no big deal, my mind elsewhere but later wondering if something else is going on and if so what and is it beginning because I am ready at last to begin.

Outside at night after the rain passes, spare moonlight on both horses, temperatures dropping.

Shivering in you, lost without you, but still here holding up my end, the altar lonesome and filling with rain.

Saffron skies at dawn.

Memories of my mother's goulash with egg noodles, almost always on Fridays, fried chicken with spaghetti, a favorite of my father's always made after a midday phone call on which my mother didn't say much, and on Sundays roast beef with gravy and homemade bread and the conversational mandates at which I excelled until my excellence became transgressive and the many long silences began. 

Somehow now understanding you as hill country, rolling pastures on which sheep graze, as when in Ireland I walked a long time alone, guitar in hand, thinking what in time would become the idea of you.

Hiding in you, hurting in you.

Slicing apples at six a.m., layering them in pans with cinnamon and butter, pouring pancake batter over and baking it at 350 for half an hour or so, timing it for when Chrisoula and the girls come in, cold and hungry, happy with the gift I struggle to bring forth, over and over and over.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Pockets of Gratefulness

Thin layers of wet snow on the back porch roof, rain falling washing it away, the light hard to notice but also all there is. What we are and what we are not. Train tracks appear to meet in the distance, dissolving into a point at which we, too, might dissolve. Childhood. Roast chicken with sage. How in towns there are not neighborhoods but streets, and how this is Main Street, and at a late juncture how one understands that and feels that. Yesterday I studied bottles of whiskey, shelf upon shelf in the grocery store, and felt the vast dingle inside me open, the river filled with trout, the night with song, and a woman by the fire not frightened of me. How as a child I was frightened of the moon and remained so until about 1987 when I began studying and writing about it, and how that was my salvation until early October 2019. What we lose aging and the grace we are as it goes. My grandmothers, their grandmothers, and their grandmothers. I settle in my rocker and write sentences, these and others. Against the rainy sky, the black limbs of frozen maple trees. There is neither waiting, nor one waiting, nor one to wait for, and yet. These pockets of gratefulness. This peace I am no longer obligated to write about in order to know. And you, wherever you go when I am lonely in the way I believe I am lonely when you are wherever you go that's not here.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Reimagined yet again

Leaves slip, meet the damp soul of their maker, and the shadowy carapace of empty bee hives hang in the maple trees like visible warnings. Another age encroaches. What we are is a kind of context embedded in a context embedded in a context which, just because it's true, doesn't also mean it's not bullshit. Fried onions and mushrooms, bacon and homemade barbecue sauce, Jeremiah and I eating hamburgers standing at the counter, a bag of chips between us, talking about how you talk about what you don't know enough to talk about. Angus Young, Randy Rhoads, Mark Knopler, more or less in that order. I fall asleep reading, dream of the homilies he gave, so sincere and formal and and stiff, and wake up with Moby Dick on my chest and a headache. I have my father's lips and his tolerance for pain, everything else is a gift from my mother and by extension her father, both of whom are damaged fighters. In the swale, every color bleeds out, every note is muffled, and even so, even so. In the morning, the blind horse steps delicately up the slope, nosing the ground for tossed hay, and I call him in low tones even though I know it's not my voice that moves him forward. Mist in the pasture in late October. Miss being kissy with you more than I can say, miss the sense of coupling with you, coordinating over the distance to sustain and nurture the great love that is also bleeding out. "That - right there." And: "I know, I know." The charitable impulse reimagined yet again, and beyond it the generosity of those who no longer perceive distinctions. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Forget the Sacred Texts

Heavy storm clouds run north south, the sky melting behind them, everything locked in a forge now, everything bent on repudiation. The bank calls again about the mortgage, the list of who can help grows thin. Remember when there were dogs? I move the chainsaw to a new shelf in the barn, then lean against its central post - rough-hewn, a tree trunk mostly - and wonder yet again what comes after the marriage. Nobody wants to eat chicken this year, nobody can remember when it's daylight savings. I cook the pork with onion salt and sage, Chrisoula makes rice and quiche, and together we cut vegetables for salad, not talking, not hurrying. At dawn, after feeding the horses, I visit the stumps of recently-cut trees and explain myself yet again. It will rain soon, that's what these clouds are saying. I read the sacred texts in order to forget the sacred texts - does that make sense? It's like a museum kind of, or what the woman I slept with from El Salvador said the nights were like after someone's brother had been taken from the village. This body runs on pain, this heart on hate and loss. Why make it pretty when you can make it real? When my dead father visits, I see somebody has sewn his mouth shut. "Must be nice," I say, and together we cry, given all of what our Lord and Savior forced us to keep to ourselves.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

All the Leaves Falling

We are sadly all the leaves falling, singly in October, as if yellow breaching orange were the Lord letting go. Scale the mountain, go down the mountain and then pretend you invented religion. I remember long talks on I-91, mostly about politics, sometimes about being Catholic, and I remember driving him around western Massachusetts after his stroke so he could look at farms, conversation mostly but not all the way gone. At night I sleep downstairs, no longer willing to upset the sleep of others with my nightmares, my tossing and turning, my quiet sobbing because I will no longer deny all the shame and sorrow. At three a.m. on Main Street, shivering and insisting on walking it yet again, rehearsing something under clear skies that for once aren't close enough to touch. The dead chickens will not forgive me or am I speaking now to my own capacity for forgiveness? Prayer slips its moorings, disappears in soft mist rolling in the distance, familiar and wordy. And what else, in the end, was this empty mouth for?

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Not Yet Churchless

Old clothes, untied boots, shitty coffee already cold. After chores, I linger outside watching geese fly overhead, the inner pilgrim satisfied with the solitude and intensity. If you think the problem is proximity - I mean, measurable in any way - then you're confused but confusion is okay. I used to buy donuts at Tailgate Picnic in South Hadley while driving to the Skinner Mountain trailhead with Jake. Nor ever liked roller coasters the way I pretended. So much living has involved the Connecticut River, the little brooks and rivers working their way to it working its way to the sea. The trout will not forgive me, the pheasants will not forgive me, and the Great Bear does not forgive me but only watches warily, pacing the neutral Heavens. I knew the earth around here well - forests and trails, pastures and mountains, rivers and ponds - and at a late juncture have been given the sky at a northeastern pitch. Returned to the light? Well, something loves us, knows us, holds us. Beyond God and No-God but not yet churchless. I mean signifiers of any kind. The play we enjoyed, each the other's reflected dream, and the silence after, which no voice or sentence breaks.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Blessed in a Way I Have Yet to Understand

Morning arrives like a disciplined follower of Christ and night, like the Roman Empire, is gone. Geese pass overhead, a counterpoint to old ideas of loneliness. The pasture is covered in frost, acres of white reminsicent of snow and what cannot be either learned or unlearned. The world is neither a casino nor a church, and our weddings mocked the Love which is our Mother, though this is not Her concern. I open downstairs curtains, put water on for tea, remind myself it's okay to remind myself of anything. The maple trees without leaves are witch fists. My dead dogs run happily in Her, which means they have forgotten me, which means I am blessed in a way I have yet to understand. The sky at - fine, dawn - is a shade of blue I can only see when you lean into me and whisper "blue." Over and over I was made a beggar, only to learn that even begging would have to be let go. The gourds this year were profluent, beautiful, and nobody understands this. Against the dark I grow wings. She whispers in me "to be sightless is to be the sky" and holds me a little. In October. This October.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Hiding in Churches

As if there were a woman who would love dogs with you. And walk with dogs in the forest with you.

How hard it was to love the dogs alone, and bury the dogs alone, and miss the dogs alone.

Holes in the sky, holes in the heart. 

And as if there were a way to forgive one's mother, who pleads now for forgiveness in the only language she knows, and as if there were a woman who would help you hear the Great Mother translating that language so you would know what to do. 

As if there were more than as if.

And as if.

Mid-morning I fry leftover pork chops with eggs and onions, which two of the kids eat smothered with the last of last year's ketchup, and one of the kids refuses to eat because killing pigs is no less immoral than killing people (she argues, not unpersuasively).

Sourdough starter unused now for almost a month, the back stairwell unswept for even longer, and the house unpainted for even longer yet.

All the art which is all we make, whatever we call it.

Watching Thirteen Days and stopping every fifteen minutes or so to cry because it makes me miss my father, and crying quietly so as not to disturb anyone, lest you have to explain the silly things that make you cry while missing your father.

As if there were a woman with whom you could miss your father in a way that was like remembering him happily or in a way that such happiness was possible, which would be a kind of healing. 

Dreams at night when it rains which I don't wish on anyone. 

Deaths of the father I don't wish on anybody.

The blind monster I became, wanting only to be loved, and so trying to avoid contact with anybody, lest yet more monstrousness find its way into the already monstrous world. 

And hiding in churches and behind churches. Leonard Cohen trying in vain to argue that our shared hump was an altar. Dan leaving for Paris, me sobbing in a Burlington snowbank begging him not to go and years later a wedding that settled nothing and postponed everything.

Late morning I hang a bifold door between the kitchen and the "white room," which is the crafting room, which Chrisoula asked for, and then reheat tomato soup and eat it watching football with the sound off, knowing that "normal" and "ordinary" are just ways of describing a dream, being okay with it while also wishing it had come to something else.

The gourds this year, and the pumpkins, and the rain this year and the night without end unending. 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Moving the Heavens

And suddenly I remember his suicide seven years ago, our long talks about Jim Morrison and writing poetry when we were nineteen and stoned, gulping beer in his Dad's pickup, all of life before us, including his last phone call in 1989 prophesying war in the Middle East, and all the violence to follow, telling me in a voice that didn't sound like what I remembered that he was about to be "blooded" and that "nothing will be the same again." 

A long way to fall.

And Dan and I on a fire escape at the University of Vermont at night, 1991, early November, drinking brandy from a shared thermos and watching everybody walk back and forth below us, not knowing who hovered above them, happy and happier, wondering how people lived who were other than "Dan and I."

A longer way to fall. 

And learning you are falling falling.

And the bones of her face and the strong waters of her eyes and her hair which was never as red as she thought but closer to persimmon, cinnamon.

And her voice - soft and melodic - always a surprise, always emphasizing unbridgeable distances.

And a long way to fall, and no way not to fall, and falling, always falling.

And another suicide, an uncle in New Hampshire, both barrels against the back of his throat after his wife died, leaving what my cousin called "a damn mess we couldn't clean" and so they cut that part of the kitchen wall out and rebuilt it, and eventually a buyer came along who didn't care or could overlook it.

And another cousin dying of a drug overdose at a truck stop in California, a paperback half open on the seat beside him, which they threw into the sea with his ashes.

And a cousin in jail.

And lost cousins.

And falling and falling - toppling - which is neither a beginning nor an end - but this, this this, as if there were only this, which there is, but only in the shallowest sense imaginable which is to say, not at all.

And sunlight on the barn roof and the moon a pale husk on western hills and the word "dawn" - I can say this now - awkward on my tongue and unwelcome in my writing.

Falling into a generative past in which I adored you, woke you kissing you, made a morning ritual of making you morning tea or coffee, tagged along with you in libraries and used bookstores holding books for you so you could browse easier, sheltered your writing space, made fires and cut wood and went for long walks in landscapes Emily Dickinson loved with a dog we both loved with you.

And at night the owls and deeper yet the bears and deeper yet the cats nobody is sure are there but which are there.

And at night, rain, and in the rain yet more rain, and in that rain a flood, a biblical one.

Walking at night back and forth on Main Street trying to find my way into the heart of fearing the rain in order to undo fearing the rain, and failing, another kind of falling, a late gift from a God who isn't quite ready yet to give up seeking His Self in Himself in me.

And the Great Mother who brought you to me, with ritual and intention, moving the Heavens and upending the weddings.

And this emptiness, which is not empty, and this fullness which is not full, and this loneliness forgetting itself, perfecting itself, all by itself no longer at the altar we make in the us we become in love.

Friday, November 6, 2020

The End of All Rituals

The Road to Damascus yet again. We pry open old paint cans and redo the front steps, admiring white. Rain gathers in puddles near the back stairs, feral cats crouching to sip. Me and the blind horse at six a.m., leaning on each other the way the sightless must. The first time I went down on anyone it was dark and I felt as if a secret were being whispered in ears I had not known were in me. Rushing, hastening, slipping. Instant coffee, scrambled eggs and raw garlic. I turn lights on in the barn, breaking a private rule that privileges darkness, in order to see clearly what died in the traps I set. Yeah, yeah - neti neti - neti this, pal. It rains a little and I try to be still. How happy we are when the other comes, as if our mouths were temples to be filled with joyous celebrants! Winter moon in October, bone bright and snowy, mocking the idea I'll see another Spring, not knowing that I've already settled my debts with the dark. Students write plaintive emails, begging favors, and I consent mostly, learning as always how to care without making it all contingent. Were it not for you, I'd still believe this old body mattered. Here we are at the end of all rituals and what do you see? The many landscapes mapped with fingers and a tongue? Wordiness embodied? Or the maps, maybe, which a kind Octopus took, saying gently over and over - in a language I did not know I knew - it's time to stop pretending you're not home.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Mind is like a Slant of Light

A little walk up Main Street, mid-morning sunlight, half a dozen maple trees leafletting in light breezes. At what age did you begin wanting other than what you had? I remember sitting in a little rocking chair reading Zane Grey novels my father grew up on, happy in ways I never would be again. The proximity of imagination both a blessing and a curse. The sidewalk buckles a little, hasn't been a straight line since the 1970s, yet here we are. She stops in front of the house to stare in horror at the space in the air where a giant Norway maple once stood. I'm sorry, I can't explain, it doesn't matter, I love you. My mind is like a slant of light, a seam that softens everything it touches. Measure, measure again, cut, and hope like hell you got it right. They say the moon is only there when you look at it, which I understand in terms of love, the love we turn away from in fear. Another death, another life. And really, who cares? There is all this light in which to whisper softly, happily, "look," there is all this light in which to learn once again the Name of the One Who looks. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

My Heart Opens its Many Eyes

In the dream, I am the monster, and he is scared of me, but not as scared as I want him to be. Is it all about forgiveness then? The witch does not literally eat us but rather demands all our attention so that nothing else but her will live. Morning sun in the maple trees, gold and red, softly streaming after days of rain, and my heart opens its many eyes. The many pornographies to which we subject ourselves - and others - rather than simply say yes to love and living in a mutual, care-filled acquiescence. We go "this far and no further" and pretend it's enough and it's not, it never is. As a child I went to war with forgetfulness and as a man was taught by a telepathic cephalopod that it was okay - necessary, even - to stop fighting. Fantasies of us were always the gap widening. Nothing is happening, not in Jerusalem, not in the Himalayas and not on the slopes of Arunachala. Who is the hero in the story you are telling and who is the villain are not the right questions! My work pants hang by the west-facing window, shit-stained, blood-stained, dirt-stained, oil-stained. The marble elephant Steve bought me years ago in Cleveland falls and its trunk breaks and now it has both a broken leg and a broken trunk and was this the purpose of the gift, Steve, to teach me yet again how everything breaks? Flats through which the river runs, recently-harvested cornfields. I got right with God and now I'm waiting with my suitcase at this small town train station wishing I'd said goodbye to her better. Christ what we lose in order to learn there is nothing to lose. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

A Long Walk You Can No Longer Avoid

Allow yourself to perceive that what matters matters, and its mattering is not up to you. 

Goldenrod going to seed. What's messy vs. what's not.

Missing being kissy with you. 

Rainy skies the day after we learn the front yard Norway Maple has to come down, an ancient tree beneath which many locals were married, a sorrow like all sorrows inevitable.

Pigeons modeling synchronicity. Breakfast deals at the new place in Chesterfield, like all deals devoid of what makes me willing to travel.  

Roland Barthes' point that "the infinity of the signifier refers not to some idea of the ineffable (the unnameable signified) but to that of a playing." Why bother correlating at all if not to bring forth a text?

Shining armor in which men see themselves reflected and choose not to be crusaders after all. God bless you my son!

Implicit arguments. The role a sentence plays in the ones that follow. Language is recursive and generative. And there are no mysteries!

Sunflower heads dangling seedless, stalks brown and withered yet upright in the mist. Holes in window screens through which hornets pass. A better cup of coffee than those I make myself, having passed beyond the imperative of quality.

Yet what is absent is not gone and so cannot be missed. How you think because she glimpsed It in you It is in you, and other errors upon which your sorrow hangs, a red cape for a long walk you can no longer avoid. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Last October Sky Ever

I imagine listening to you breathe in darkness.

Across ten thousand miles and even more lifetimes I listen to you breathe.

In the darkness I see your chest rise and fall.

Rise and fall.

Your breasts which were the world.

Your heart which is the world.

In the bed we share, in the cave.

The fire we share brightening.

Walking under the mountains to you and singing on top of the mountains to you.

The old stories becoming new in us.

The one story told again in us.

Again and again and again.

After many days of wind and rain the skies clear and a thousand times a thousand stars appear, each  an intimate blessing.

The moon appears and Venus.

The moon and Venus appear on the dark shelf of the last October sky ever.  

There is all this light in us.

In all of what is given there is light.

Oceans appear. Lake Superior and Watts Brook. Black bears and sea bass. Cephalopods extending understandings that transcend theology, philosophy, physics, love.

Maple trees and elephants appear. Death squads and cell phones. Music from the Peloponnese.

Fathers and mothers appear, and the Great Father and the Great Mother. The Trinity and the Mystery.

Does my heart race? My heart races. 

My hands flutter like chickadees too high up in the air. And I kneel now not in homage or praise but in submission.

Defeat and destruction.

I am the ruins of older ruins. 

You are the ruins of which I am the ruins.

There is a word for this. There is a throat with which to say it.

There are ears with which to hear.

When I reached God - when I gazed into the perfect blue stillness - what I saw was what I saw reflected in your eyes when you opened them once in a photograph. 

I have no legs now with which to measure distance, nor arms to mourn the absence of the one I do not hold.  

I have no heart to count the time - to bring forth a past or project any future.

No mind with which to remember names.

I have no will to make it otherwise.

In darkness I listen to you breathe, my love.

I rest in you, who are breathing.

My octopus, my angel. 

My here and my there, my once and forever, my gone. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Just Out of Reach Singing

The rapture as a structure of delay, perfectly designed by that which cannot face its demise. Organ meats, chicken feet. When we rise after prayer, we are neither lighter nor light, and yet happiness in its way abounds. Gimme!

Washing kale and collard greens, slicing the stems away, bagging them to freeze. Think of winter, think of your hunger, think of the salt mines in certain fictional narratives. Nobody home, nobody not-home either.

Old Irish songs about traveling that my son neatly folds into his sunny 70s rock ballad disposition. Lights like candy corns we loop around beams in the hay loft. 

Turn to me once, turn to me twice and what do I become but a thinning version of a dream you can't quite remember having. And begin.


Spider webs float in warm drafts circulating through the basement. Ham steaks, ground beef, pork roasts, chicken. Would "amen" have taken us to a different sense of over?

Giving away my books yet keeping all the book ends, these remnants of a childhood in which the true savior was language bound in the reconstituted flesh of trees.

And what ends, ends, and what does not end goes on, hinting at even more encompassing states.

One longs for just five minutes alone with Heinz von Foerster, one steps out from the invisibility spell laid upon them long ago, one finds that their voice is no longer recognizable in their throat.

A dream of ruined Christmas tree ornaments, my feet bleeding, my heart a dove fluttering just out of reach of Hank Williams singing "My Son Calls Another Man Daddy."

It's this, it's that, it's everything, man.