Thursday, December 31, 2020

Like That But Not Exactly

Sleigh bells. Ancestors. 

Songs about her shoulders.

Families of spices.

Cake tins, salt shakers, saddle soap.

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

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

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

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

It's like that but not exactly.

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

Say yes again. Say yes at all.

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Something Closer to Anodyne

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Eyes of a Blind Horse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 28, 2020

Muttering the Luciferian Prayer

When you still think you need to be forgiven.

When you have nothing. 

When broken.

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

Not this. Not this.

Not this.

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

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

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

Lost in a bologna sandwich of my own making.

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

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

Last time muttering the Luciferian prayer.

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

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

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

Other in her, undone in her.  

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Our Small Fire's Reach

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

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

Ways in which we are antagonists.

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

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

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

As if kissing her one day were actually a choice.

Morning passes writing.

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

How happy John Lennon was from time to time!

Closer please.

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

Saying goodbye in hospitals.

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

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

Always pointing at Worthington, any Worthington.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 26, 2020

We Continue on the Road to Bethlehem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 25, 2020

Remember the Door Opening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Conjuring Yet Another Mystery

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

All the Shades of Blue

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Goddess moves, vixen moves, grandmother moves.

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

Wife moves, lover moves.

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Old Lovers Shredded in Heaven

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

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

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

What is falling if not snow.

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

Definition as function. 

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

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

Who helps.

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

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

Oh, little by little and then some.

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

What ends.

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Grandmother Gazing Back at Me

What is the morning as it crawls from the shadows? The trap door in my brain behind which bad dreams hide springs open but for once nothing spills out. We are here to serve, and serve in order to remember we are not here at all.

Jasper emails to remind me I promised to help him carry the new door upstairs. Storm warnings. You can sneeze during zazen but we would rather you didn't, just as you can vomit after eating peyote but we would rather you didn't. Gaps in the circle which we fill, and gaps which can never be filled, ever.

Waving to every car that passes without looking up from my feet falling one after the other on the gray pavement of Fairgrounds Road. Steep slopes, their grassy embankments littered with Bud Lite cans. The cats nestle closer at night. The neighbors' Christmas lights are garish but delightful and I am not ashamed.

We are what we miss most. She accuses me of trafficking in spiritual platitudes, a fair assessment under the circumstances but still, prophets gotta prophecize. Let us be book sellers, let us be silent, let us "marry our fortunes together." Churches in which I shall never pray again.

Little fir trees in the meadow. For a long time when I looked at the sky I saw a grandmother gazing back at me, her kind eyes the color of blue marbles. How the trout fought not to die, and how clever the deer were, waiting us out in the bracken.

Knives my father gave me which - unlike the guns - I am as yet unwilling to give away. More of the stillness, more of the dim light growing dimmer.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

An Hour North

A black box, a warning. A good story. One sleeps through their alarm and wakes to find the chores done and the smell of french toast and bacon floating through the house, including here, the back room couch on which they fell to sleep reading Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy for the third time in their life. Gold light filtered by windows hung in the late nineteenth century as if to emphasize the troubles I've seen are only beginning. You deepen all of a sudden and learn without qualification that we are not bodies and so can set the body's concerns gently aside. As in a tent we make love quietly, as before fires on summer mountains we are somewhat less restrained. She touches my shoulder to wake me, asks how I am feeling and later over coffee reminds me I promised to drive with her an hour north to pick up orders at Just Soap. Do you know whose footsteps you hear when you dream? Something is washed away indeed but never our sins for there are no sins. Your grace, child, like your ambition, precedes you.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Love is Love and Always Merciful

In those days I lingered on the shore of Lake Champlain because a woman was on the other side, and yet I did not reach out to her, for good enough reasons to which we had both assented, but now I see it as a lesson in distance, not restraint.

Now this happens. 

Always I am left. Always I am alone at four a.m., pretending that prayer and black coffee are sufficient, which they are not 

Unanswered is not sufficient.

Here is the outline of my heart in red crayon. Here is my reading of Saint Augustine in my twenties, then in my forties and again in my mid-fifties. In my hayloft there are many bibles and other, less-sacred texts, and in all of the margins are notes, and in all of the notes are insights, and in all of the insights are questions that not even Augustine managed to answer. 

What you think is real and what is real. 

I lingered on the shore of Lake Champlain studying the faint green of New York, loving my loneliness and confusing it - as I have always - with genuine solitude.

What we forget as we learn what we are made to forget. Interior spaces in which we stumble in the snow bank, professing our love, and then he is gone, then he is driving down College Street forever, then we are alone again, and alone again, and alone again.

How in a sense I don't want you, and how in a sense it doesn't matter to you, what I want or don't want, because what you want is always what begets us.

Scrounging quarters for parking meters, malted vanilla ice cream on park benches in sunlight, used bookstores while stoned, not knowing what town you're in while driving through it.

Looking with her for the other way, the way where nobody is hurt, where love is love and always merciful, always just.

After a week of sleeping, a rough night of sleeping, wracked by bad dreams and that interior sense of unworthiness coupled with the need to be ready always for whatever comes next.

How when I unzip - or am unzipped - there is always a catch, a moment of registering with the Lord one's nonsexual longing for a deeper almost mystical union and the brief sharp sadness of knowing it can never - in this body, in this life, this way - be brought forth. 

The ghost I am, learning how not to haunt anymore.

The dog I am, with no coil rug on which to rest curled while waiting for scraps, pats, kicks, be gones. 

Long nights, longer days, and this, always this.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Other than a Mirage

Late morning sunlight, snow melt, the cats twitching in their sleep. "Come here, I want to tell you a secret." One floats through the fever dream, holding together a functional identity under terrifying pressure. Letting the car run, filling the freezer with day-old bread. Sprigs of dried lavender and a habit of playing Greensleeves whenever she walked by. Heart, soul, spirit, et cetera. The integrity of acknowledging what one wants without apology or explanation. At last, a love at last. Forgive me for lingering beside Lake Champlain, as if the other side were anything other than a mirage. Pretty going-down songs, other life harmony. If this were anything other than this, what would it be and how would I know?

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Over the Monastery Wall

So it hurts, so what?

So you have a secret, so what?

Over tea with Bergamot oil we talk about the Lord and Jung and what sex is like and what electrons are. 

How we hold ourselves in order to love women in the way we want to love women, and how our dead fathers watch and their fathers watch puzzled, and how our grandmothers and their grandmothers step forward in benediction and relief. 

For whom does the King of Swords kneel but a woman whose body was not so long ago the earth from which Mount Ascutney was created so that the ashes of his favorite dog might have a pretty home? 

I am the specific man I am becoming lighter and lovelier, and it's all happening right now, even in grocery stores, even driving slowly west on Route Nine, peering over the wheel at the road unfurling in snowy dark, alone and not alone, and beyond alone, too.

Pretty blue mushrooms, memories of bluets.

We wave a hand over what does not readily resolve itself in language and logic and go on together, which is okay, which is more than okay.

The blind horse calls me and I answer by moving quicker, arms full of hay. 

Sunlight on the horizon, knocking sounds over at the post office as Carl and Marie unload the delivery from Springfield, frosty snow crunching underfoot, all of us in it as one.

Stuff happens, other stuff doesn't, which is also a kind of happening.

Games one can play a long time before realizing that what matters isn't what you play but who you are playing with.

Tearing apart cardboard boxes for recycling, fingers going numb in early December cold, but a neat barn is better than a not-neat barn, and we are still beholden to that kind of order, so yeah, we yield to the requisite law and tear the cardboard up for recycling, cold fingers be damned. 

Women I've gone down on, and how I remember them all, and love them still for their beauty and grace, the light they shared, the salt and the wetness, teaching me one of the many gifts we can only be given on our knees.

The bridge over the Connecticut River on the Northampton Hadley line where I have been scared all my life. 

The thin gold band of her wedding ring and that which it signifies and that which it will never signify again and the world she insisted on bringing forth in which the distinction mattered.

Arguing for an approach to psychedelics that's closer to cutting one's hand off and flinging it over the monastery wall than anything McKenna advocated.

So I am lonely, so what.

Remembering last winter driving outside Providence Rhode Island and seeing swans on black ponds and feeling comforted in a way that would not clarify until nearly a year later when she settled for me the relevant symbolism. 

So I am broken, so I keep going, so what.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Like Family or History

Bitter coffee, that stage of not sweetening it but taking it like family or history. Being a man, being a martyr. Be not afraid. In dim light in the barn gathering hay I pause to imagine her helping me and am briefly dizzy with the intensity of possibly reaching the end of this lifelong loneliness. There is always a familiar sufferance. Route nine bends in a slow half-circle coming down the Windsor hill, more or less a straight shot to the Main Street cut off. Nobody knows the troubles I've seen but they've had hints and intimations and I'm not done talking, not by a long . . . but wait. What if Jesus and I and the many hymnists are wrong about how you traverse the lonesome valley? The light changes so fast as dawn becomes day becomes day! How creative one is when at last one is their Father's son. And whose daughter approaches, the earth holy in her silent wake?

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Starved Colony of My Body

Washed, robed in black, laid out, deaf to the weeping of the many mourners and gazing at the backs of oily pennies. In the morning after throwing hay to the horses, I piss on the roots of wintry forsythia. Draw a breath, let it slowly leave the starved colony of my body, gather another, painfully. Dawn arrives in a roseate blush, traces of snow suspended on tufted grass no longer white. What is reflected, translated, told again? What does the mind say and who is listening? We are hints of what is real but only hints but what is it that knows the hint as a hint and how. Ascutney in my dreams now, a gold slope I may never ascend alone again. One's gaze goes a long time west to find that upon which it can rest forever and does. The old dog visits before sleep, reminds me he is waiting at the edge of a vast field full of light, no rush, but what's waiting for what, right? Who is calling who. Soon I say, glad to discover at last it's true. Not yet, I say. But soon. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Frightened of What I am Becoming

On the zafu again, catlike and sad, the way I was in my twenties when Dan and I would hold each other and cry. How much breaking can one heart stand? Light seeping into Burlington streets, love like melting snow spilling from interior gutters: baby please don't go.

Sleet falls, grazing frozen ground I'll break later to re-fence the pasture, parts at least. Who is hurting who. Jesus in bare maple trees, hanging on, waiting. In the end, where isn't Golgotha?

I am frightened of what I am becoming.

What are you now I am no longer what recognizes you.

Christmas decorations hang on Main Street, a sense of something crumbling we will not live to see the end of. Africa forever family. We will be taken from each other.

We will be buried in a hurry, prayed over in a rush.

"The Tsar will see you now."

Military jets pass overhead. We have secrets but we won't have them forever. Nothing lost means nothing found means nothing seeking nothing.

Please my God: no more morning, no more night.

A sound the tea makes being poured. Bells which signify this love is not the end of our learning.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sweeping the Kitchen Floor

It comes into focus as a gift one longs to give, and it comes into focus as a gift that one is given. 

People come and go, talking about their favorite sandwich at D'Angelo.

Wind blows, lifting road sand scattered by Highway Department guys at 5 a.m. into sunlight. Or are there shadows. Saccades.

One moves easily between moods, as the verb they are also evolves, and never without leaving the hayloft. Quintillian's observation that "in connexion with the verb we get solecisms of gender, tense, person and mood [modos] (or “states” [status] or “qualities” [qualitates] if you prefer either of these terms), be these types of error six in number, as some assert, or eight as is insisted by others (for the number of the forms of solecism will depend on the number of subdivisions which you assign to the parts of speech of which we have just spoken)."

Women, too, come and go, talking of the men they knew or will one day come to know.

Mariah rattles the hayloft, making the effort to box up books more complicated, as in a deep place one feels threatened, and the books are stones against which no weather or intruder can prevail. 

Skies darkening with arrows in flight. The moon behind faint clouds, glowing, and the interior sense one is almost done with admiring it, can move on, let it be, let go.

Pass through. 

The lonesome valley of which many speak but few know. The desert in which one recognizes Lucifer as a brother, and is thus relieved of the role of savior, brought formally at last to the radical essence of mutuality. 

Christs come and go, talking about the little statues they make with their little brother's play-doh. 

For nothing then, for all.

Sweeping the kitchen floor, bits of straw, a random pin, two pumpkin seeds and dust. Chicken thawing, steaks on the counter coming to room temperature for later frying on the grill out back. When I said I'll be your baby tonight I meant it literally.

In the hayloft, Seans come and go, talking about this and that, nothing at all, all of which you know.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

What Faith Insists is Possible

Iterations of us.


Morning passes writing, sentence by sentence. What the body's eyes see and what are other ways of seeing. Falling into what faith insists is possible.

Breathless. Breathlessly.

Mowing the old cemeteries in Worthington at twilight, the mower chunking low-laying stones sinking and floating two centuries in the soil. Growing up, out, away.

I remember flying. I remember you far below, forever where I would land one day, and end one day.

Bird bones in talus off trails up Mount Ascutney.

Mount Ascutney.

Ascending you by degrees, breathing harder as the summit nears, thinking of stars and how the vast dark of night is only possible because of them. Learning how to learn. Learning you by degrees.

Morning passes listening to trucks pass, tires hissing on rainy macadam, a sound that makes me remember Worthington in the early seventies. 

Stained glass windows. Insisting on this or that form of prayer. Being endless with you, illusory with you, joining the way we join in you when lost in you I am lost.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Something Translated, Re-interpreted

Rain at six a.m., dark just lifting, stumbling through slick mud, arms full of hay.

My heart in you full to bursting, my heart in you no longer my heart but something translated, re-interpreted.

As if I were the maze, rather than the lost virgin, Minotaur or salvational thread leading out.

There are no hearts anywhere.

All night the phone rings and then chokes off when you pick up, realizing only after you've answered - ear full of dial tone - that it's not your phone, it's somebody else's phone, a phone from the 1970s, and it's not even your dream but somebody - or something - else's.

Somebody knocks on the back door, you wake up, and nobody's there, and this happens over and over and over.

Pulling her into a kiss, not thinking beyond the kiss, then being pulled by the kiss into something deep and without intent.

Going back to J.R.R. Tolkien at a late juncture and seeing what he saw and mistakenly believed had been defeated.

What is historical, antithetical. What is malignant.

Are we here? Healing? Do you hear what I hear?

My heart slips into an envelope, masquerading as a letter in order to reach her. 

Kissing your feet which are the miles you've traveled and the earth you are over which you have traveled.

And you hair soft on my hips then trailing even softer over my cock when you move to hold other parts of me in your mouth.

Calling you coming in you. Homing in you, remembering flying in you, skies in you.

Rain turning to snow turning to rain again. What the radio says as night comes on, and what night says when we walk away from radios, and the world in which radios made sense, and the bodies to which they spoke, long ago and far away.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

We Offer what We Refuse

Densely packed hay bales. Trails we make by walking. When I look up, the moon is falling apart over the barn, and I understand how it is not the moon but my heart, and how there is a light which transcends all of this. Stacking rocks around the foundation. Wintering-over skunks.

When I walk in winter in warm billows up and down main street, lost in the specific way I become lost, and rescued in the unpredictable ways I am - to date - rescued.

Footsteps upstairs and how we know who they belong to. Sitting quietly writing as morning slides slowly into something public.

What we offer, what we refuse to offer.

I remember sitting on a bench on Boston Common in 1987 or so, lost in a way that would not be resolved for many years, and which did not involve being found.

Reheated coffee. Stale donuts half price which I buy happily and eat while driving to the river just shy of the Vermont border.

One leans against the wall near the door, arms folded, digging coffee grounds from the hollows that fill their mouth, crushing them then swallowing, rehearsing a certain argument.

A game in which there are neither winners nor losers. The round face of the public clock atop the church.

Who is committed and who is not?

Punctuation is not about rules but rhythm.

Driving home just after dark, the sky still on fire but fading, city lights to my right growing dim as I lean on the gas, eager to leave the highway, and I remember the man I was, and the boy who became that man, and the child who far back who knew nothing and had to build it all, and hold it all, and not fall ever and who mostly hasn't, even now.

Avoid averages.

Sad outside the grocery store, early December passing in a lonely way, my heart not working the way it once did, and other signs I am nearly done with the book I was assigned all those years ago in Burlington, in a different world, in a body that was only beginning to realize its function.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Into Holiness

May I not forget.

She shares a photograph of her at a public gathering - dressed, made up, happy - and I have to deconstruct the image to find the light and then reconstruct it slowly to remember the light and it makes me go deeper into what is holy, what is relationship, what is love (and what is hidden, secret, ashamed, unsure).

What is love (baby don't hurt me).

Moonlight at 5 a.m., frost everywhere sparkling and the river humming in the distance and nothing missing, nothing not given, and knowing this at last.

What is distant, what is given.

I dream a certain philosopher following me down marble stairs, both of us preparing for a kind of battle, not alarmed but with a sense of futility.

Opals. Sapphires. 

The thin band of her wedding ring and that which it signifies and that which it will never signify again.

Seeing past her now to the world and time, to the cosmos and the one Goddess, to nothing and everything.

Imagine moonlight on your shoulder, imagine kisses and imagine the immense quiet after, as if there were no more shadows. Are there no more shadows is the question of what would you do if you could say aloud what you want to do more than any other doing.

I drive slower than usual in order to see more clearly the many holiday decorations in our little town and in this way go deeply into a very old and simple happiness and thus transform the holiday into a holy day and then the holy day into holiness and then I am home and then I am home.

Parting your thighs, kissing the hinge, hints of what's to come.

Goals. Gold. Gods.

Called lovingly into transcendence.

My tongue in you off the trail somewhere, your come-cries startling birds from happy trees bending over us protectively.

In the morning, in the light, in love.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Moonlight Going only Halfway

Dark is a certain kind of next, but not the only one. At a late juncture one realizes that reading, not writing, is salvation. And sharks swim in warming seas, somehow not our enemy.

Gazing for hours at the complex beauty of her face, its shifting sands and waters. Nobody knows the troubles I've seen and I don't know theirs either, and yet. 

We meet in crossword puzzles, reheated soup. We meet in rescue dogs whose joyful romping speaks to us of grace. Butterfly heart, dulcimer soul.

My body ceases.

In moonlight going only halfway to the pasture, satisfied the blind horse is okay, standing quietly facing north.

A sound the river makes in early winter.

Ten minutes with the right woman can change your life forever. The world is a beam of light. Daisies, bluets. Do roses get tired of bearing so much symbolism?

The effort one makes to be other than what they are. In moonlight softening, or is it obvious, has it been said already.

Who am I to say? When our people become the other's people and then beyond that when we see there are not even people at all.

May I never rise off my knees, may I never speak but in thanks and praise.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Knees are Kindred Spirits

Through trees, Christmas lights. Unlike yesterday, cold against which my hay jacket is little protection. The moon in clouds, floating away west. Nothing keeps, nothing stays.

My bruised heart on not enough sleep. My voice rising making point after point.

Nobody can say how long this will last.

Mushrooms again. Chaos gods. A single gold leaf falling in a forest on a planet no mind has ever visited.

Definitions again.

The door to the hayloft opens and closes as visitors come and go with questions and concerns, making it difficult to sink into the writing in a familiar way, and yet one is also grateful for those whose care and attention rises in such deliberate and everpresent ways. Using Bob Dylan to make a point that might otherwise go lost. When after midnight, after making love, one pads quietly down the hallway to gaze out the west-facing window at Main Street to see if snow has begun falling. Corn tassels, wind socks, finger puppets, locks.

Our knees are kindred spirits.

The clothesline creaks as recently-washed sheets are strung up and rolled out to dry in cold sunlight. What was given was given freely and yet something in us insists otherwise. Strapping lumber to the roof of the Outback, hoping for the best going forward.

My glad heart, my grateful soul.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Can't Sing but Love Singing

Unseasonal warmth. Smoke from nearby fires reminiscent of  benzoin, frankincense and myrrh. It will be Christmas soon and my heart has begun to remember joy, even in its alien casing, even in its bloody crust crumbling.

Rain passes, leaving matted grass where little floods ran. I trudge slowly past the summer chicken coop, reflecting as always on the many deaths in which I have had a hand, a hard one. You didn't used to see cardinals this far north, fifty or sixty years ago, and there are other changes coming too. A music stand which doubles as an easel.

Hayloft visits that end up sexual. Chrisoula and I walk down Main Street talking about our holiday "budget." A dozen or so turtles circle in the distance, obeying the dictates of the agentic cephalapod who took over for Jesus in late August (Jesus' secretary, says Fionnghuala). Hemlocks quiver in morning breezes, the last of the storm clouds race away east, and we are left with December only mildly threatening. That mandolin won't play itself, son.

I remember as a child peeling threads of birch bark off and setting the curly scrolls in the brook, sure I was communicating with something beautiful and full of love. We kept a secret list of good things I did, hidden under the stairs in the basement, which somehow only shamed me further. Lake Champlain remains a comfort, though at the time it was a complex relationship. One sits on the public stairs of this or that building and works on poems, especially when staying in their little one-room sublet makes them feel insane. I remember other things as well.

Can't sing but love singing means you can sing, you just need a better teacher, or any teacher at all. She snuggles me while I stir the coffee, asks if I want to run away for a month and I say yes because I know that's the answer she wants to hear. You pull out the Christmas ornaments, you do what do you with the Christmas ornaments.

In a text - this text say - the divided subject confirms its generative split yet also collapses in on itself.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

A Gift, A Significant One

The half-life of moonlight. Slowly - accomplished first in dreams, then under the influence of a fluorescent telepathic octopus, then with Christ, then as a matter of fact - reversing the perceptual errors associated with cause-and-effect. Doing laundry at five a.m., tightening the cap on the Mason jar in which finely-ground coffee is stored. "Evolution is a gift from God," he said, while pretending that he hadn't just given me a gift, a significant one, which was annoying but I let it go as you must. Bad men over the years, too many to count, and myself one of them some of the time. Over the years sleeping mainly with women who used language in ways that deepened my relationship with dictionaries. I remember kissing on the shore of Fitzgerald Lake and opening my eyes after to see dozens of turtles surfacing and realizing that they rose - in a non-metaphorical way - in worship. People think my obsession with images means I know about the narrative function of images, which I do not. It's fun to use the word soul in a sentence, so why not do it more often? This broken heart, this empty throat. This whore-sought soul. What else did I come back for but for you?

Friday, December 4, 2020

Composing a New Hymn

Full moon between hemlock boughs. The hayloft is warm and quiet. Somewhere a candle is being lit. Somewhere somebody is composing a new hymn. I am grateful, and my gratefulness travels. And when the moon is hidden, the moon reappears.

There are no secrets. There are no mysteries.

I pray and my prayer becomes images of my father, and the sorrow of his own healing, how it broke upon certain interior stones and could only go on in pieces. My brother, my killer.  My fellow hunter and herder.

Something in me is lycanthropic now. Murderous. And given to trouble.

Something in me is dying and doesn't want to go where it thinks death leads.

Is it in fact the case that suffering arises from a case of confused - of mistaken - identity? Blue jays scraw viciously down by the compost, and one wonders at the tenors of the world that are lost because our vantage point is so limited. Liberty and death are not the only options.

Dreams through which one rises as morning brightens, much like surfacing in moonlight. The world is full of kisses and our joy is not a mirage.

As stillness and other abstractions raise me like a pretty hot air balloon high into the Light of Love.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

A New Imperative

Once more into the breach, this time without so much drama. I slip into the bathroom, bring up this or that photo of her, and jack off breathlessly. Cars roll by, slowing by the post office where folks coming in and out stand too close to the street talking. Vespers and lauds, et cetera.

Winter. Work pants slung over the ladderback chair. Remember when you actually knew what was enough?

Remember when Lake Champlain was visible through a west-facing window, a blue glint of it, and how it comforted you then, and does still.

The neighbors putting out eggs for sale, their chickens not allowed to leave the shed, which chafes a little, though who am I say. Deer cross the road at dusk, bounding between clumps of bittersweet, disappearing. Less light, less love.

Beauty is a form of complexity to me, which I rarely admit to, because I'm exhausted (and a little bored) with arguments that beauty is simplicity.

Scuffing through fallen maple leaves.

Rain-washed quartz.

My heart shifts, adapts to the new tenor, and otherwise eschews mirrors. For days the familiar mode has not worked, and so letting go becomes a new imperative. 

We unwrap what was carefully wrapped.

We are conditioned to place conditions: where is healing in this?

The nearly-full moon in bowers of November cloud, unseasonal warmth allowing dreams of her to float like a cephalopod through green seas in my skull.

I, too, am well-pleased, and see no reason to forego a Passover visit to Jerusalem.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

A Country of Blessings and Hymns

Wanted: less weariness. Easier breathing? Well, something other than nothing in these cupped, these containing, hands.

Failing lungs, the lines on my face.

The blind horse steps carefully through mud to reach drier ground on which flakes of hay rest, green and gold. My son and I share space easily in the kitchen, shoulders grazing, not speaking, and I think of how little I knew about my father's body.

Was it fall recently? Was it winter?

And my mother's anger and my mother's hands and my mother's face so often nearer than I wanted it to be.

J. says one nice thing and I end up weepy all day, my heart tremulous like a baby bird, my body a nest in the storm-tossed limbs of the world. 

Pumpkins gleam in November rains. Potatoes yield to recently-sharpened knives.

An ache beginning behind my left eye.


My dead uncles in a card game they have yet to learn has neither winner nor loser.

Purgatories, pap smears, panda bears.

Kisses on the back porch.

Yet at four a.m. billows of sleep carried me far from the couch and ratty sleeping bag into a country of blessings and hymns, gold light spilling through an endless afternoon.

Where in your body will I not bring my prayer?

When your people are my people.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Into a Safer Heart

Rain. I can't sleep and it rains, and I sit up on the downstairs couch, trembling in cold and fear. If every sentence includes the word "rain" what will happen and what will not happen. 

When she wrote two years ago I did not reply, did not answer any of her questions. Wrecks on the floor of Lake Champlain.

What pushes, what probes, what promises.

Sitting up praying. Sitting up and letting love be love. 

What mercy is.

The rain deepens - something chordal, something entangled - and nothing about sleep is made clear or possible. 

The cold iron of unused stoves, Vermont Castings filled with rotting ash. 

Bat dung. The second hand. Gladioli.

Briefly in Rome, crowds bearing me through hot sun towards the Vatican. Yet there were no rooms, no sense of where to sleep, and my arms hurt lugging my guitar.

Looking back at myself shopping for groceries in the early nineties, seeing nothing.


Lorded over.

At last hunger overruns the interior CPU and briefly I am unafraid, briefly I am taken into a safer heart for saving.