Deeper into the Dolmen

A lot depends on how you define magic. It rains and then it doesn’t. What works?
What helps?
We drive to Vermont together with coffee, visiting town centers where we hung out pre-kids. Farms using old tires to hold tarps down against loose hay. At midnight the groundhogs eat apples in tall grass in moonlight.
Biology is a frame! Chrisoula forwards an article on how to sleep better, upshot, take some melatonin. My legs below the knee now remind me of my father’s legs: skinny, the calf bone arching like a poorly-made bow. Wading through shallows at Upper Highland Lake, disturbing turtles, giving loon nests a wide berth.
Eggs and sausage drenched in maple syrup. Coffee stains. At an early juncture Bob Dylan lyrics defined a lot of how I thought about relationships. Also, what do you not want to hear?
We lift lanterns, lower our heads, we go deeper into the dolmen to see if anybody is awake. There is always so much sorrow when we try to step into meetings that are not ordained by love.
We drank whiskey in a little pub near Ballyvaughan Bay, talking about the loneliness of Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie’s courage facing his long interment and illness, and Bob Dylan’s comment about links in a chain. I have daughters now, now I have a son.
So many years ago, all those loose Benzedrine tablets bouncing around the Rambler’s carpeted floor, a sense that something wasn’t working and it was our job to fix it, and the life that followed, this one.
Categorized as Sentences

Pages of the Family Bible

Plato’s Phaedrus. Gently washing my hands at midnight after tripping in wet grass visiting the horses. Taking Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text out of the free bin at the transfer station because come on. Hot air balloons floating over the deep green landscape, marriage proposals, photographs, promises unkept. Why did we – and by “we” I mean homo sapiens – decide to make jewelry, right?
Roadside Queen Ann’s Lace, purple clover. Wispy pockets of mist floating where the river follows River Road. Herons, helpful hints, happy faces. Mountains called to me but in a foreboding way, and my life has been mostly judicious in terms of which ones I’ll climb, which ones I won’t. Cleaning trout aside the stream, their guts in a pile for bears to gorge on at dusk. 
It is not your sunset and anyway the sun doesn’t set. Imagine, people once lived without coffee! Algebraic equations in my dreams, a reminder that math, like the Lord, is everpresent. Rich waves leaving. Breakfast sandwiches, hot coffee. Shall we press this violet into the pages of the family bible?
Brittle roses, first dates. We drove station wagons with holes in the way back, you could see the road passing but oddly didn’t feel unsafe. One is never not wanting a kind of solitude. 
And forgiveness, always forgiveness.
Categorized as Sentences

Especially Clear and Glittery

What is silence to a radio or a cricket? Machines that learn for us, shape us, transform our understanding of love for us. Nothing is ever truly anticipated. Teaching, that’s where it’s at.
Low rumbling thunder on Saturday morning. Neighbors arguing over who drank more the night before. Life now is one big fucking Turing test. Morrison’s command to “break on through to the other side” feels quaint, uninformed, too easy. Forgive me, I was raised with certain biases towards money that have greatly complicated my ability to manage a career. This comes from the top.
Quartz rocks after days of rain especially clear and glittery. She writes to ask are the robins “singing sweetly” for me. You wish you could’ve heard Jesus preach, at least once, those hot afternoons on the outskirts of some miserable village, you wonder would you have been one of the ones who was changed, went after him, et cetera.
Rain falls, calm and steady, like what I imagine older brothers are like. In my dreams, I-90 is mostly empty, swans fly across it, and the sun to the east is almost blinding.
What is the other side of this awful chemical haze? Why did God make marigolds, why are marigolds so beautiful and sturdy. My Greek wife brings me Greek coffee while I write about Socrates, a Greek. Making sushi as a kind of flex, saying “flex” as a kind of flex.
I’m sad but not forsaken, my happiness is the whole sky and its endless billows of light.
Categorized as Sentences

Only So Many Destinations

Silver beads of dew on clover in a far corner of the field. Remember corn pushing up through cracked hills of dirt, how surprised you were, like it was magic. The eaves are cracking after all these years. And in my dreams, oxen bellow and groan, and the mountains respond with gentle songs of encouragement.
Stars do not actually move in the sky they only seem to because of how the earth turns, is a fact I was bitter about learning for a long time. At night I let the demon out and explain for the ten thousandth time we aren’t knocking any mailboxes over but if he wants to climb a tree then fine. Some days are over, some are just beginning. I gather fallen apples too bitter to put up and spread them over the compost. Chrisoula and I sit on the back stairs after running early, roseate mallow light filtering through maple trees, our knees touching, talking about Vermont. 
The ones who have no grave.
Who listens and who only seems to? Exposure to poison ivy turns me into a terrified idiot, a child, and two days pass in a benadryl haze, limiting everything, but whatever angry ghost was living below the skin of my left arm is gone. How angry a lot of white people are! The sun is bright early but then disappears behind low-hanging storm clouds. Democracy is a way the other gets in, hence attacks on it.
I can’t sleep, can’t find a writing or reading rhythm, and so end up watching crappy action movies, my brain lulled by the familiar narrative structures, including bursts of violence fatal mainly only to bad guys. Keep reframing, notice who is reframing, reframe the one who is reframing, keep going, you’ll figure it out. There are only so many destinations so there are only so many road trips is inaccurate, misunderstands the reasons we travel.
No more kisses! Dippers full of cool water, ladles full of stew, margins of error shrinking so as to be all but unnoticeable in this new, this glorious Cookout with the Lord. 
Categorized as Sentences

A River I Am Not Afraid to Cross

Where have I been? Dreams of Florida, going down in stormy seas. We who never get past the book cover. Faint voices urging us to song without clarifying the words.
How much I have lost. 
First night in weeks without rain I walk to the river and look for the moon among shiny silver stones. Going all the way under. Look at the bookmarks still all where we left them!
We want what is down below but we are unskilled at descending invisible stairs. Trumpets, hallways, preachers and other things prayer can fill with wind. Married a quiet woman and at a late juncture – nearing the orchard gate – grateful.
In my mind, the sun streams through maple trees at the foot of a hill on the other side of a river I am not afraid to cross. 
“Be my Emily Dickinson” has so far not worked as a Valentine. Remember penny candy. Praying the rosary in a plastic chair facing Main Street while it rains.
Paris, London, Munich, Rome. A hill in Ireland surrounded by sheep, smoking with a woman whose name I forget, sunlight on the harbor of my ancestors blinding me to how naked she got and how scared I was of literally everything. 
Wanting suffering is a flaw that can be ended. We are together now, like the hangman and his rope. This Love undoing even what I did or didn’t do to deserve this Love.
Categorized as Sentences

Emotionally Vivid but Otherwise Unspecified

The house is quieter than usual and full of sun. Somebody lowers a spade into the earth. At a late juncture I begin to study cats and, by extension, cat people. Chrisoula is speaking on the far side of a field full of mist, there is a blue light behind her, and I am not afraid that I cannot hear.
Three happy kids, what a fairytale! I write through the morning, diligently aiming for idleness as always. The phone rings, it’s Trudge saying is it okay to deliver hay tomorrow. There were a dozen or more swallows on the phone wires looking at me and our shared past life was emotionally vivid but otherwise unspecified. So you’re a bum narrator, so what?
Between the horse pasture and the river is a little skip of forest, partially owned by us, partially owned by the town, where three days ago I tossed the neighbor’s dead hen. Falling apples. Scattering lime on the compost, letting later thunderstorms work it in. When you are hurt, it is okay to ask for help, which I somehow translated into “ask for help making it hurt more,” a very fucked up thing but I am what I am, I guess. Tomatoes and basil on corn wraps, eaten standing, as always.
Men who like the sound of their own voice and think they are liking intelligence, wisdom, insight. Let us calmly ascend the gallows and pray we make a pretty corpse. Cloudless.
I like the sound of fans, it helps me sleep. Harvesting begins in earnest – mostly greens and early squash, but the raspberries too – and you remember that you, too, are being harvested. Pray a rosary for Jesus and hold a good thought for the poor!
Categorized as Sentences

Complex Interlacements of Identity

Morning coffee close but not too close to a swallow’s nest. When you’re trapped in Max Ernst’s body of work everything feels like Italy at the end of the nineteenth century. Mist on the river thickest where it’s flanked by cornfields. Blowing kisses. Shades of blue, shades of not knowing and being okay with it. We laugh waking up, our bodies stiff and soft, apparently readying themselves for some journey we only barely understand. I took prayer too seriously for a long time and though understandable the effects were painful. The hay loft is full of prisms, my glass bluebird collection, guitars and banjos and penny whistles, a lot of polished stone and crystal. Sunlight streams through maple trees at the foot of the hill, somewhere between orange and yellow with hints of pink. Let’s reinvent us! Other times not seriously enough and honestly it’s impossible to tell the difference so I’ve mostly given up. Ant hills moist with dew. Another swallow. A dozen small birds on the phone lines nearby, obviously visitors from a past life, but which one? Draping sweaty work clothes over the cold radiator to dry for tomorrow. In a dream a couple sentences related to awakening to reality from which I woke up thinking “not this again.” Skies are just big spaces full of light but rivers are complex interlacements of identity. These arms were made to make windmills! Or as we say behind the church, discovering in one another an actual helpful scripture, “om shanti shanti shanti amen.”

Categorized as Paragraphs

The Last Chalice

Hauling laundry off the line in mid-afternoon, timing it so most of the late-arriving rain misses it. Walter Benjamin’s Critique of Violence. Yet at times I am still scared of going hungry – going under? – and act accordingly. We kissed on the steps of City Hall, holding hands in the December cold, beautiful and sincere, breath gusting after, like carolers in the nineteenth century. Letting certain calls go to voicemail, later regretting it. Molasses cookies with extra raisins. We drive between towering pine trees to the beach, let the dog off the leash and walk all the way to the canal together, not talking. When at a certain point in our living we knew what books the other needed most. Butterfly lists. Steering by stars, knowing how. The many shades of moonlight filtering over the lawn, apple trees, run-in, far hills, Emily Dickinson’s grave, the sea. The last chalice is beyond us now, the church in which we encountered it folded up into an envelope. Look at me arguing about the mail with shrineless gods who adore conflict.

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Terrified or in Mourning

Afternoon rain, the nineteenth century briefly visiting, percolating in thick blood, dark grounds, your funeral or mine, etc. Profluent green landscapes in which poetic compositions lean to the baroque. Muted barks of distant and thus nameless dogs. In my mind a black bear is always on the move, always drawing closer to my heart’s capacity for imagining itself outside itself. There was more space in the world back then, and less to be scared of, and even in winter we were outdoors all the time. After working in the garden almost until noon, we come in and reheat the night before’s rice and beans, finding not much to talk about, as if the past month were the very aberration we’d feared all along. The trail past the horse pasture narrows to an uncomfortable degree, raspberry prickers dragging our skin. This quiet is almost ready to give up speech, never mind writing. Faint breezes move tree limbs up and down like men in the 1930s greeting one another after church. Why am I always so surprised to still be here? Here, the house eaves weep see-through tears and all the birds are silent as if terrified or in mourning. Tell me again what your favorite book from childhood was?

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Not Stardust

What would this look like to a cricket? Can you say with assurance a dog’s life is less full than your own? How many times has the river out back made you a promise and you missed the specific way it was kept (for rivers always keep their promises)?
Turkey vultures in loping circles high overhead and a little west. The lilt of the church steeple, the lull of a spire. Something beyond books, something beyond what we can say with ease, yet still, something we know. 
Ceramic Buddhas. Sharing the last of the ginger snaps Fionnghuala made with Chrisoula, leaning against the counter on the side of the kitchen that’s hotter, listening to her gripe about work. What groans beginning and what beginning is made better thereby? 
Sunday morning, morning after. Cardinals come back to the compost, even after I’ve stirred and moved it in anticipation of fall distribution, and why? Who is not always in preparation for what they cannot say. 
The world seen from a Ferris wheel, love played and replayed in Ferris wheels, this old idea of romance borrowed from what cultural patterns now repatterning in our living the way we live now? Forgive me brother trout – I was a fool who thought he could sit at the table with men who’d given up communing with God and I was wrong and as a consequence you strangled to death with a metal hook in your throat. Plans for replanting the Joe Pye Weed. 
Grilling chicken, drinking gin and tonics, radiating nontalkative vibes: sunset. Dousing the light, hunkering down. As we all know, we are the monster of which we are so frightened.
Oh risk a dangling preposition for Christ’s sake! We are in dialogue with all life, as life is in dialogue with laws beyond itself, even now converting our narrative identity and spaciousness into not stardust but something finer. 
Categorized as Sentences