We are chrysanthemums, we are lovers observing chrysanthemums, we are lonely passersby observing lovers observing chrysanthemums. Women guiding me from horrifying cross to confusing grave to a religious expression of joy and inner peace. Many lives in the one life! Everything that is possible extending itself through the universe. Could you hold on one minute while I collect my thoughts? Diamond rains on Uranus. We sat quietly on the bank of a river, and the river allowed itself to be rendered in metaphor, which somehow removed us from the bank of the river into the actual river. Well, yeah, some people do talk too much. A knock on the front door which – when we walk over, pull aside the curtain – reveals nobody. Or am I still mistaken, this step just one more on the unnecessary but not forbidden journey from nowhere to nowhere.
Famine moon. Lately there are only all these edges, and I keep tripping over them, finding yet more, as if the cosmos were merely the interior of a prism. Follow Jesus or don’t.
In the beginning was the idea of shape. Lately this emphasis on semicolons, as if afraid of stopping, or maybe realizing the whole thing is just one big sentence. Everybody’s got their ghosts, everybody’s got a story they want to tell, everybody’s got somebody they can’t forget. The dead watching from whatever distance the absence of breathing forces on them.
What if nothing were relative? Lately I find myself remembering my paternal grandmother as courageous, the one who found a way through the grim plot of family to something happy and full of light. Perhaps we are soap bubbles, perhaps our overlords gave us prisms to try and teach us something.
Falling in love at the fair, then realizing how far away from everything I am, even when in love. Peach-colored skies as the day softens, souvlaki hissing on the grill. The interior state of the other is always our projection. Sharing a cold beer, shoulder to shoulder, remembering how it all got started.
Watching steam rise and curl off the coffee, watching it disappear in time, literally.
There are no monsters, not really.
I don’t always recognize my body anymore, like it could be anybody’s, or maybe it’s a placeholder, a hostel in a remote corner of the cosmos, always reminding me I’m visiting here, not staying.
Plot loss, mission creep, goal rot and other ways to describe the problem we’re having. Apples let go of the tree, topple through dewy air, thump the earth and begin a new journey – one of decomposition – one way or the other – in the grass. While in dreams I meet angels who are quiet and helpful, contextualizing metaphysics with the many stories I yet insist are one.
Some people call this “listening to the rain” or “contemplative prayer.” Horses clear their throats in pre-dawn darkness. It’s been a hot summer, a hard-to-breathe summer. And all the cars going too fast up Main Street, and all the trails on which ghost dogs run, looking for me in vain.
Pretty lights, broken vases. When in the darkness I kneel, then sag back against the hayloft wall, getting clear in ways that are felt as pain at first, the light of pure love being so unfamiliar, like a shot of whisky or slipping on ice.
Letting go of the whole dead dog fiasco. Priests we liked as a child who have found new careers, teaching in Boston, raising sheep in Arizona. There is an order from which we are not separate. Tomato seeds so rarely yield rose bushes! At night, low whir of fans in the dark bedroom, an ache somewhere that I cannot meet nor assuage.
How in my late thirties I tried to take up painting, found it oddly boring after a while, but still have some of the paintings around. That one snow storm through which you sat writing poems all night by a fire drinking brandy, regretting nothing. Hippie energy, commune energy. Happiness studies.
The love that we remember in relationship with the other is the love which we have extended them, which they are merely reflecting back. Going back in my mind to quartz rocks I did not remove from the earth but simply worshiped briefly in their place. Ray Lynch songs.
How can you be other than in reality? Being helpful matters, can we leave it at that please.
Quarter moon just over the neighbor’s house, swaddled in mist, yellowish, looking like laying down. Sheep cry out, crickets answer. Has anybody mentioned the lilies this summer, how vivid and luminous they are, semi-monstrous, like a non-famous poem by Sylvia Plath?
One does love a performance, is always angling for one, no matter how bored the audience or how constrained the material. Don’t tell me you love me. Pumping gas in hot sun, everybody around me apparently happy, so much so I want to shout “what’s the secret to eternal life” and see if anybody answers.
Crows atop the church steeple, a familiar staple of these sentences, as if I am trying to tell myself something. Formal dance moves once learned are hard to forget, God apparently partial to square dancing. To whom does night belong, in the end?
Storms pass but the possibility of storms does not pass. A certain move one has to make ascending the front porch stairs so as not to step on the clover. We watch turkey vultures pass, get into a long discussion how humans have never really needed to fear creatures of the sky but of the earth, yes.
A man I admire says “I wish prayer worked,” clearly assuming I’m at best agnostic on the subject, and I let it go but wonder will I ever get another chance. The sound basketballs make being dribbled in an empty gym, a kind of metallic ring in the echo. The moon falling off low clouds, stars dull in the haze.
Going through Dad’s old clothes, sweaters and t-shirts, a few button-ups, taking what fits and setting the balance aside to be donated. Forever shaking dust off my non-existent shoes. At last, briefly, the heat lets up.
Photographs of our wedding hang askew, I can’t say why, nor do I right them. In the cave of the heart one finds a hill that has never been climbed and finds too the end of climbing hills and thus faces a choice, very much unlike the one Elliot posed in that stupid fucking attempt at a twentieth century love song.
Pickled garlic. Grilled zucchini and eggplant served on cold rice splashed with rice vinegar. Crickets in the barn, scattering when I open the main door, the song temporarily lost.
Goodnight Moon is a perfect text, I don’t care what anybody says.
Searching for a certain Celtic god, a legend, anything to explain what happened to the child I was. Fall River in the nineteenth century, the end of monarchies and the beginning of the end of empires. Aches and pains, aspirin and yoga, acceptance.
The one apple with which I was in relationship has fallen, landing in the neighbor’s yard, on the other side of an old fence, lost to me forever, a sorrow.
The absence of original ideas, the ongoing patterning of what is already given, which is everything. Starlight at dusk, the river in the distance a low hush, a memory of hands I have held and been healed by. Slowly rearranging the stories I tell about growing up, seeing the way I have been resisting the gentle happiness inherent in the great flux.
So there are no graves, is that what you’re saying? Photography is my nemesis. Summer dresses, summer breezes, summer loves.
Light morning rain passes, mushrooms everywhere, a happiness. What does a broken rosary mean, given that meaning can be whatever we like? One reaches the inevitable paradox and lingers a long time, unsure what to do next.
This home I keep in your heart, how humbled I am, gently tending the gossamer parameters. Bells made of moonlight ringing forever in my mind. When what happens is what happens after everything else we thought had to happen happens.
Do you have secrets from me because I have secrets from you. Trying to think more clearly about the hills on which I am willing to die. How we don’t always pay attention backing out.
For once I didn’t have to do the heavy lifting spiritually speaking and it lasted almost a week and wow. Animals I remain frightened of. I remember bridges spanning salt water rivers that rose and fell in ways I was cautioned against taking lightly.
Dogs were basically thrown away but not as bad as pigs. A green light in early August, full of the sea, as if finally I have reached the bottom of something. Rain on me, Jesus, I’m begging.
Just beginning. Shall we. Lemon cake with strawberries and fresh cream.
It’s summer, it’s the moon lower than usual, it’s the better look all around. What is not as interesting as you think, what is your idea of what you deserve. Her scaling the river bank, me watching her from behind, full of love.
Rejoice, rejoice. The writing prompt asked everyone to write a ghost story about their favorite library. Why focus on providence?
Explicit instructions I am doomed to ignore. Rabbits in the clover, if only I could remember to look.
Thank you for your note. Have you seen any snakes lately or unfamiliar trails which suddenly diverge. Heard voices. Have you prayed. In what language. Have the lilies alongside the pond in the town center begun to whisper when you drive past them. Kneel and bow their heads. Do you no longer need to answer questions that begin why. Are you familiar with Transcendentalist ideals of walking. Have you danced with men who have killed black bears. What is the light like. Held hands. What are canoes, what are crosses. Is there a pickup truck parked at the top of the hill. Every hill. Is the radio mostly static but every once in a while Bach. Or no. Is there a church and who goes. Is it pretty, the church. Who is in charge. Anywhere. What is the light. What is kin. When the first leaf of autumn falls do you say out loud “now is the hour.” For what do you use the mail. Any mail. If you had a gate would you paint it white. Would you swing on it. What is the sound of ten thousand coins striking a marble floor. This is what what sounds like when doves cry. Whips crack, towers fall. And still. If I could help would you let me. Would I.
Imagine black bears dancing. Imagine waking up knowing a new language but not what language it is.
The sky is mostly gray, hints of rain and I wouldn’t want to be a hot air balloon or in one. Through trees, the river, and on the far side of the river, a field in which half a dozen cows graze, possibly my real family.
I have a favorite apple high up in the apple tree – it’s the softest red, almost a peach – and when it falls I know it will be lost forever. Marriage without wedding rings.
Stories without tellers? In a dream we talk about your poems for hours, then sleep together outside, not fucking but holding hands, lost kids in a bad world, true help-meets.
What’s gin? I need Saturday, new ideas, a cleaner porch, fewer Christian icons, et cetera.
When just after the wedding we went to Greece, got lost in high hills outside Athens, before finding a back way to Sparta and your family. Across the river my ancestors laid down their swords and shields and looked to me for clues as to what to do with their hands.
The locus is a form of leverage, the lotus is the end of dreams. You and your whispers.
A fortunate child who does not recognize his fortune until well into adulthood is not a fortunate child. Balancing a jug of water.
Crickets on the barn floor. Jesus praying for me in the cave of a stranger’s heart.
And the cave of your heart in the cave of my heart in the heart of the lily deep in the center of the last wild marigold. One is always star-gazing, one way or the other.
How deep into the heart of a marigold can you go? In a dream I die, and on a windy steppe, the air full of snow, I must apologize to every animal I have ever killed, and their families unto the seventh generation, and this is a happy dream. Let us discuss the curriculum going forward.
Moving slowly in the hot night, between rain drops, steam rising. Relationships with trees gaining primacy, as if they know something I don’t, something even the octopuses don’t. A little light here and there, a little sign we are not alone.
A firefly is not useless, even uselessness is not useless. The knees of old men, the teeth of the poor, and the calm of old women who learned how to knit when they were young. Gardens a little after dawn.
Promises that are not fully clear until decades after we make them, when we would not make them anew, and yet live by them still, like soldiers or nuns. Knobs on the sideyard maple where once I cut branches that were scraping the house. Bumble bees drowsing in bunches of clover.
One learns things by rivers, doesn’t one. Apples ripening, falling to the earth. We carry ourselves through a long day, lay down in bed, and moments later a gossamer moonbeam settles across our feet.
Our bodies gathered like penitents, or our bodies like churches in which the many penitents gather. You think about the past, you think about saying goodbye. Breezes in the low hills to the west, coming down the valley like bored cats, passing through the farm, slowing down in the cornfields, then out across the river.
And what was will be for there are no signs anywhere of change. I walk farther than usual along Fairgrounds Road, losing all sense of coming as distinct from going, alone and not alone both.
Geese flying overhead two days running, as if something has changed in the world. Imagination, which exceeds the body. Mist below the far hills, roughly tracking the river, which at midnight sings in a low voice, songs of what can never be wrecked or ruined. As between the pasture and the garden I move slower. Opening the barn door watching a cricket scuttle into shadows near the hay rakes. The corn is above us now, thick leaves rustling as we pass. Poets whose work I can’t go back to because I was never moved by it nor respected the craft, et cetera. Running alone, praying rosaries alone, sleeping alone. Shall we measure our lives by days or by books? The one who loves you is not love, yet confusing the two is a site of abundant joy. Look at me retracing steps I never took, taking the map with me to a Country beyond Signs. The one to whom I would give all the prisms and all the crystals, if only they were real. Here where the prayer deepens apparently on its own.