Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Decomposition One Way or the Other

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. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Looking for Me in Vain

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.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

One Finds a Hill

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. 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Tending the Gossamer Parameters

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.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Spanning Salt Water

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.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

If You had a Gate

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.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Lost Kids in a Bad World

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.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

This is a Happy Dream

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.

Monday, August 23, 2021

A Country Beyond Signs

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.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Into the Actual River

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. 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Discarded Carpets in the Far Corners of Heaven

Today I am a cup filled to overflowing, a chalice whose joy is to spill. Love shapes and names and refactors all things. 

Geese circle the cornfield three, four times then angle off south to where I am not. Okay then.

Chrisoula wearing blue in the garden, leaning over the bean plants, filling harvest bowls as the sun sets. Blushing red of apples in the tall grass. Beyond the church steeple, hints of blue, as if promising it will not always rain. 

I am happy, against all odds.

I thought I knew things, and I do, but they aren't the only things, or even very important things. The trail in is the trail out, though not the only trail in either case. Crescent moon on the far hill saying goodbye.

We who are specks of dust beneath discarded carpets in the far corners of Heaven.

A practice of nonresistance, acceptance: the whole world an altar and our living a vast offering. Hummingbirds darting on a side of the house where they usually don't. A reflection in the mirror owes a lot to light, but you still can't see seeing.

I will place this sentence here, and the next one after it. Photographs from the 1930s introduced during a ZBA meeting as evidence of where there was and was not a driveway. Often birds will not land where I am - even when I am writing and not holding a gun - and for this I will never not repent.

Maple trees moving gently in breezes that are the name being written on my heart.

The river even holier than yesterday. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

A Crucified Primate

A stone elephant, a crucified primate. My grandmother's pancake recipe. In 1989 in Rome, eating a cheese sandwich and drinking a stupidly small coffee near the Coliseum, I decided to go to Ireland, and did, and a lot happened there that subsequently made my mid and late twenties possible. Do not take those wings for granted son! Shadows on Main Street the day after rain. Chrisoula comes into the hay loft and asks what I'm doing and I tell her I'm trying to get at least knee-deep if not deeper into a particular swamp near the center of my psyche where a deceased aunt I never met resides and she says "do you think you can do that while making supper because it's almost five o' clock." Sputtering chainsaws. Frail bluets. At dusk by the river I apologize to trout hidden in deep currents, I explain I did terrible things to their ancestors but no longer and never again. Oh this darkness, oh this quiet - oh this thisness in which the repentant are allowed to remember they are forgiven. Touching the blind horse at midnight is a poem. Om shanti om shanti amen. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Starlight upon Waking

Night passes between dreams of death, or being just a little ahead of death, which is just a form of hunger, which now I know. When I wake and Chrisoula is not here but on the couch downstairs, sick and scared of her sickness. When the moon is full, when werewolves discourse on the nexus between menses and the missionary zeal of early Christian apostles. Oh darling won't you help me clear out the attic?

Country songs, some band playing down at the park, mostly unrecognized until a stretch where they play Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tom Petty and Molly Hatchett's Flirtin' with Disaster, which as a kid I liked for all the wrong reasons. When night falls and the moon appears late over hills on the other side of which Emily Dickinson lived and wrote. We are atomic and acosmic, we are also kind of an asshole when it comes to talking about poetry.

Put another comma in that sentence son! I remember learning what kind of man I did not want to become while studying all those dead animals and the many weapons used to kill and dismember them and about fifty years and ten thousand fuck-ups later, mission mostly accomplished. Om shanti om shanti oh never mind.

Yet starlight upon waking, making coffee alone in the kitchen shivering in August, grateful for another season in which to wear sweatshirts. People die and those who live bury them and then move on from the graves, hence ghosts. I'm happier than I expected to be but still perceive some responsibility unmet, as if a pilgrim in the distance were staggering towards me, a handwritten message from Jesus tucked into his pocket. Beyond the swaying maple trees, a church steeple decorated with starlings. "Looks like we got ourselves a convoy." Kisses, caterwauls, cantelopes.

Counting down the days! I remember being angry at W.S. Merwin for making me think about the anniversary of my death, which every year I must pass unbeknownst. Also, I remember saying to a therapist once "I might as well see a psychic for all the good you're doing me" and he said quietly "my wife is a psychic," and I learned something in that moment about slowing down and just generally being less of a dick. Now I'm lost in a song by Air Supply, now I'm pretending to hang glide.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

On Being a Companion

And then it was August. Liquid green light. One reaches an understanding begetting deep calm or it just what Jack Gilbert called - here paraphrased, possibly wrongly - "acquiescence to death beginning." New world, new rules. 

We observe that God attends all life, and that we are not other than life, and therefore fall under God's care and protection. Bridges of flowers. New England river towns in which hollowed-out structures of industry remain viable, relative, photographable. Baby steps, then strolling, then ballet beneath the stars, 'cause why not.

Morning sun streaming through the last hemlocks ever. When will sorrow not insist on being a companion, mine?

Part of writing is noticing you're writing as well as - simultaneous with - writing writing. Dangerous bends in the river. How we remain attended by a long-dead aunt that none of us met nor can picture.

What's perilous, possible, palliative.

What's morning gin.

Is it light or heat I am feeling? Blue glass plates, bottles and tea cups.

Cape Cod beaches, bay side off-season, catching hints of what was and will not ever be again. While at the top of the tree something is glimpsed and the glimpse is conditioned upon agreeing to never glimpse it again, but me, I lied, and so I see it every day. 

Favorite song by a woman probably Sinnerman by Nina Simone, favorite fiction character as a child Joe Hardy, favorite season fall, staying in to going out, and dogs, always dogs, and you. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

What Yes Meant

Baby steps. Bordeaux. A sound our jeans make being drawn up across our thighs. Forsythia shoots leaning out into the narrow path beside the barn, brushed aside as we pass, later clipped and the clippings unceremoniously kicked aside. A sentence is always a form of repetition, always closing in on what something other than the sentence wants to say. 

Blackberries, raspberries. Sparrows circling the garden at dusk, diving and tucking, their white bellies flashing like bits of the moon being tossed by invisible currents. I was becoming a poet before I understood what being a poet meant and I said yes to the call before I understood what yes meant, none of which is unusual but still, it's helpful to be clear about what we are and how we arrived. Nothing left now but circuses, nowhere to go but the desert.

Footsteps in the hallway, our brain too tired to sort through who is approaching. Can I work "alarm" - let alone alarm - into this sentence? Memorial services for strangers at which we nevertheless know to bow our heads. Let's get dialogic, let's be that strong. 

Smoking cigarettes in the Italian countryside in 1989, staring at grape arbors ascending steep hills, the hot sun intimating joys I would not know for another five years. Ideals are the death of love but love is the father of ideals.

Old ladies who talk a long time about their grandkids and great-grandkids, how sweet they are, how often they visit, and who is the author of all this again and what do they want.

Hot air balloons and how they have functioned as symbols of sex and romance in my life. The whole place smells like a dentist's office, and I begin to hurry accordingly.

Who says it will only hurt a little? The daisies this summer showing mostly at the edges, sturdy but scarce, like ghosthunters, or whatever ghosthunters find when they don't find ghosts.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Visiting Wasps

Slicing open apples under the tree to see what is inside, as if there were a mystery one could solve with knives alone. Babylon was a city and remains findable to those partial to the relevant maps. I wonder when I won't need to write anymore about the empty sockets in the fine skull of the blind horse. The fires we are, the fires we are consumed by.

Stacks of books on the dresser, a data point among extensive other indicia, indicating that something remains unsettled in my mind. Trading Ken Wapnick stories. A kiss is a kind of recognition, a sign of respect among equals, and a way of forwarding relationships unto the - how did our brother put it - malkut. 

Fireflies at night by the apple trees where I go to experience the deeper quiet that is the outskirts of Love. Breezes from among the faroff stars. At last one understands the invitation was unto silence rather than the explainable. Oh you and your big brain, I wonder what you're compensating for!

The ocean as a metaphor for sex - saltiness, tides and their obeisance to the moon, waves and currents, seagulls singing above the froth and now and then an enormous beautiful whale sounding as if nothing else in the world mattered but the absolute joy of the embodied.

Visiting wasps where yesterday a bucket of watermelon rinds was dumped on the compost but they're busy, don't want to talk, have said all they're going to say, et cetera.

Look at the faithful driving to church! While up the street, neighbors argue over whose job is it to wash the car. I'm not Sunday anymore, I'm something else.

What is closed? Sophia and I talk about Sherlock Holmes, Jaws, witches, whether Shakespeare was himself irritated with Hamlet, and how far into politics comedy can go and still be funny. I remember one time all these praying mantises outside their apartment in Fall River, and being allowed to go outside to marvel at them, not understanding how a city could be even briefly more magical than growing up on a farm.

All stories need a hero, says the guy who has been figuring exclusively in his own since he first recognized the difference between mind and world

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Jumping is a Thing We Choose

What shapes us? The neighbor's rooster sounds panicked, and briefly I am panicked. Shucking corn as an extension of prayer. In the morning we pick berries, cull fallen apples and slice zucchini to be dried into chips. "I am what I am" and "it is what it is" are hard things to mean, and maybe don't capture the whole truth but still.

Waves at a distance, whales rising. Suddenly this longing for snow accompanied by a sense that I will never see snow again. Coffee stains - concentric circles signifying a dirty olympiad - on the window sill by the chair in which I write each morning. Removing my belt, remembering.

Her blue shirt hangs on the chair next to my differently blue shirt with its missing button, except hers catches swathes of sunlight slowly ascending the bedroom wall and mine is dull, like an unused chicken shed in which ghosts reside, bitter and bored with their bitterness. 

How the pigs resisted, how the trout resisted, how the chickens resisted, and how here I am with my own resistance, which has mostly to do with refactoring what it means to be that which has a name for resistance. 

Jeremiah makes better coffee than me, which makes me proud. We listened to Infidels driving to the grocery store to buy pickling spices and didn't speak at all because given that record why would you? Cliffs were not made for jumping, jumping is a thing we choose, related to how we are always in language, and thus in ignorance of what cliffs truly are. 

At a late juncture realizing the type of gambler I am, and understanding as a consequence why certain women found me attractive. On the one hand, yes, they do let us just walk into town but on the other hand, we choose to spend a lot of time wandering lonely in the wilderness, making and remaking prayers, practicing magic, basically giving the best parts of us to the wind and the rain and the stars.

When once I wanted oxen, when once I could not see between the story I was living and the one I longed to tell. Let us visit a local lake and stand in its shallows and talk, and let our talking be an invisible shrine to Sylvia Plath, one that will linger in the air for centuries, and people walking by that space years hence will stop, look at the sky and for no discernible reason think "it is as if my heart / Put on a face and walked into the world." 

Sawing fallen apple limbs to cart into the forest. The behavior of swallows, starlings and cardinals in late summer, the sense one has that there is neither an end nor a beginning but only folds, a shirt falling forever, never reaching any floor.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Spring in a Now-Gone Century

Something must be stuck somewhere in the family drama forever unfolding or is my brain just recycling electricity. One day there will be no more elephants - there will be no more turtles - and then what?

Waking early to see if there are stars out, seeing none, and unable to get back to sleep, so making coffee and talking to myself in the darkness, a not-uninteresting conversation. Suddenly we are overwhelmed by the garden, counters full of harvested zucchini, cucumber, tomato, pepper, lettuce, kale, cabbage and green beans, mason jars rattling in pots on the stove, the dehydrator humming near the back stairs. Who do you want to look at now?

My prayer is made of holiday taffy, my dreams are the ocean on a sunny day in July. 

Yet ask: did Emily Dickinson actually die?

A lot gets resolved before the sun rises, writing and thinking and trying out one's voice in more or less empty rooms. Rinsing greens for late morning smoothies. 

And later yet walking past the horses to the river, then along the river until it deepens just past the park, the sound of it drowning out thought, leaving only a body struggling to hold itself upright in currents sluicing between bus-sized rocks.

Matters of trust then. Being good at wrapping presents but not in knowing what or when to give. Blackberries, fire pits, compost piles and other kinds of wreckage. Be honest: does a prayer ever end?

Sounds that remind us we have neighbors. Heavy rains at ten p.m., waking me from a nothingness that I struggle to call sleep. Dad was kind but basically disappointed in me and the feeling was mutual. Blue birds at unexpected hours.

My favorite picture of our wedding foregrounds the cathedral in which we were married one grayish day in the middle of Spring in a now-gone century. Bowls filled to the brim, castles overflowing with jade and pearl - how hard it is to just write a damn poem and walk away, not caring who reads or what they think.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Canaries in the Attic

Finding order in cricket song, given technology allowing us to do so, which, great, but were we really confused about the order in crickets singing to each other, summer nights beneath a big moon, life making music unto the extension of life?  

The river distant in ways that I did not expect would matter at such a late juncture in my living.

Therapy when one least expects.

Tree branches fall, including a couple big ones it'll take a chainsaw to move, and our weekend plans are shifted accordingly, not unhappily.

Pictures of rainbows, dreams of unicorns.

Oh listen to the willow trees, the silver minnows darting between high-up branches, moonlight the color of champagne and candles. 

Chrisoula comes back from visiting family with tubs of feta, two pans of spanakopita and two of moussaka, and a tupperware of stewed dandelion greens with tomato, lemon and lima beans.

Who was lost when at night on the lake the loons informed us of loss.

This sentence begins with this sentence.

Neither ending nor beginning, nor interested much in language, and yet that in which all language appears, ghost-like.

Turkey vultures hunched over in a rotting maple near the church, their backs turned to us, studying something or talking to each other perhaps, as we all sometimes find ourselves in unexpected proximity to our twin.  

What'll do, what won't.

Stories about my great-grandfather raising canaries in the attic of a Fall River tenement, banished there for having a mistress, not giving up on what was beautiful and given to melody, or was it a form of compensation or am I just doing what I do, making up stories that sound like they're about family but are actually about me.

My dream of a tri-corner hat at last surrendered, as where and when would I wear it, and what purpose would be served, that could not as easily be served with no hat at all.

Of course eating is political I thought that was settled.

In other words, what color is the rain if it's obvious snow is white while - by extension and also for argument's sake - it is hardly obvious that snow is white for it is sometimes clearly blue.

When you know you aren't a body, the way you experience bodies then. 

Trout swimming in sun-pillared shallows, hovering near grayish rocks, visible and beautiful, and also edible.

I want to go back into the sun or where I began.

Part of the apple tree I swore was in God's hands came down in yesterday's storm, including the hollow branch in which starlings were nesting, and the wreckage is heart-breaking but oddly lovely, all those red apples gathered in bunches in rainy grass, no sign of homelessness anywhere.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Unexpected Sun

And then there is the unexpected sun. We are basically texts unto one another, black boxes, yellowing pages decorated with ink blown off the table under billowing curtains, breezes that smell of the sea. Who is writing! Learning is learning is how to reasonably find your way through social contexts masquerading as a body in a world. I remember the first time I heard the phrase "second generation ACIM student," wondering not for the first time what thieves and grifters I'd fallen in with. The poems you don't write stay inside you and make you claustrophobic, prone to visiting psychics, an aggressive kisser, etc. It was quiet all morning, you could hear the sunlight streaming through maple trees and settling on ferns. Ways in which sex reframes how we think about family. Are we not all meditating on the crucifixion, are we not all passively reenacting Mary Magdalene's confusion in the garden? I feel everything warm and welcome at a distance but close up I get confused, come off as cold, almost - what is the word - oh right, distant. Or maybe things do go wrong in absolute ways - is that possible too? This language I am learning, it makes me into a sentence that doesn't want to be the last sentence, or this one.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Footnotes Mostly

Notes it turned out we didn't need to take. Wind as the night deepens. Fealty to dusty corners, muttered prayers and other signs of low status. Imagine a childhood not defined by an obsession with reading, i.e., imagine not being saved. Lobster claws, reticulated pythons warming their eggs, morning sun on the savanna, long walks with blue hills everpresent as the horizon. Stories the locals tell about what's at the bottom of the lake. In a dream I invite Margaretha Haverman to come view Mary Cassatt's Lilacs in a Window and Haverman asks politely "what's a museum." A few minutes after six. There was a time in my life when learning about disruptive coloration would have led to a weeks-long effort to correlate the effect to writing but not anymore. The sound our shoes make as we unbuckle them, how we sigh laying down, how we see ourselves seeing ourselves in starry skies. Ever looking back. Fires, more and wilder than you can imagine. We are footnotes mostly, helpfully informing a larger text, we are not at all our own creation.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Answers to Hard Questions

We don't grow up really but we are very old, and nothing gets by us. You never forget the voices of angels. Dying hemlocks. My father neither read nor cared about poetry and somehow I remain his son. 


Men crossing the desert to find answers to hard questions. Cloths we use to hide our face. In the morning the light is soft and pink and full of water. Hide and seek was never a fun game, I was never free of the existential crisis at its center.  

Old men remembering kisses. Who can forget Carl Sandberg's little cat feet, who among us will mock his boundless sincerity? Folded-over grass where yesterday a fawn rested, waiting on its mother. Phases of the moon, chapters of a book.

Age is an engine. Sliding around vinyl seats, sticking to them in summer, leaning out the window singing made-up songs. God squints to see us, makes us out far below on what appears to be quilt, but is really the Irish countryside. Washing bricks, remembering growing up.

Crossing boundaries as if they are not there and wondering, wait, are they there? Listening to salsa while writing changes the length of the sentences and seems to privilege multi-syllabic words. What do you give the one who has everything?

Monday, August 9, 2021

A Lantern Remembering Family

Graves of horses, graves of dogs. Nobody is sadder than me. A week before she visited I drove to Vermont and climbed Ascutney in order to remember who I am. The devil gets in your face and you brush him aside, tired at last of playing zero-sum games, all he ever has to offer. I am mountains now, now I am starlight on violets in clearings, now I am the darkness in which moons and stars are possible. Teach all boys to bake bread, make them read Emily Dickinson, let them be alone a lot, trust them to figure nonviolence out. Violins ascending scales not used since the Hittites obliterated the Hurrians. Get lost, got it? The better way is in your mind awaiting your willingness to try it. Only now knowing the Goddess I live with is older even than Christ. Trust me, the journey ends, often before the body does. Kids who leave their bikes out in the rain, parents who let it go. Suddenly the light here is straight out of Maxfield Parrish, luminous golds and yellows, compass-like blues, as if the heart were remembering it is a lantern remembering family everywhere. And with that, shall we begin?

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Sacrament and Sacrifice

Remember the land in Berkley and how proud Dad was? Prodigal-like I come back to the Country of Turtles and beg its Queen for forgiveness. Are you gone then? Some planes do not reach their destination, some maps can only say "hic sunt dracones." Be the banks of the river I am so late in life becoming. It is possible - technically - that I have a child in Ireland. Quietly making peace with the Latin root from which sacred, sacrament and sacrifice all derive. Leave the lights off, tell me you love me, make it last. Oh these headaches that don't respond to aspirin, hydration, darkness, et cetera. Faces floating in darkness before sleeping, not ghosts so much as an audience, one that is neither willing nor unwilling to watch the performance, my last. It's projection all the way down and silhouettes all the way out. Are we okay with what we became? You'll have to figure out the next steps yourself my love, maybe all the way to the end. I never was very good at singing harmony and my throat, I left it on the altar they say She sometimes visits.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Like Watching the River

It rains and so I take to the forest, trails that circle hills rising to crests from which other hills are visible, barely. Composing melodies in how we live. Finding breakfast waiting. You were my heart once, you clarified it was a prism, and then the light came and you were the light, and no longer a you to whom I was beholden, being you myself and also, hey, look how pretty everything is. Sex beginning in understanding which deepens so perfectly that even sex is ended in it. Letting bunches of clover grow close to the back stairs, a gift unto the cosmos. This is you writing! Chrisoula draws the sheet over me after, leans to kiss me, and I hold her briefly against my chest, feeling that old feel from growing up, if only I were a tree then all would be well. Oh Thérèse how will I ever thank you, oh Sean you know perfectly well how to thank me, get on with it. Pausing where stars are visible. What is the plural of yes when written? When all our plans involve umbrellas. So much that seemed to matter no longer does, even the sense I am a broken man fades, like watching the river carry a camellia blossom round the bend. Fetch your mandolin friend I want to teach you a song I learned in nineteenth century Ireland!

Friday, August 6, 2021

These Stumbling Feet

Two neighbors in two days ask about the violets which are now profluent to a degree that calls attention to itself. When you stop going to church because what's not holy? Oh Emily Dickinson I know you're smarter than me and braver than me but also, please maybe hold the door open just a little while longer?

An hour passes shucking corn, extending the quiet that attends praying the rosary, which itself extended the quiet of weeding the potatoes. Dew on my toes. One is in relationship with wasps in a way that feels instructive but a little dangerous.

In a dream Chrisoula wears black beneath a translucent robe made of starlight and I paw the earth at her feet. Hot coffee! Harvest now includes raspberries, blackberries, apples, rhubarb, cucumbers, lettuce, kale, cabbage, broccoli and tomatoes and much is made holy thereby. 

Bikes left out in the rain, a sadness. Morning passes letting morning pass without interference. My heart is made of stained glass and ten thousand sentences not unlike these. I'm so happy to be a primate that loves kissing and other forms of cooperation!

Walking down the hall quietly, side-stepping the loose boards that creak, not wanting to wake anyone. This endless prayer that is so personal and yet includes the cosmos, for which my gratitude is a kind of hot gas, making everything expand. I remember crying, being taught not to cry, but insisting on crying, an early lesson in masculinity, boundaries, penalties, courage and the deeps.

When briefly I entertained being a sailor and thus sailed and then moved on, called by forests, as one is called away from fiction to poetry for example. Let us share theologies, make sandwiches, wiggle our toes in cold rivers while talking, let us make the stars happy they invented us. I wish I was more comfortable using the word "boogie."

Empty graves reframing crosses. Other lights that now make clear these stumbling feet are themselves the path. 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Always Relatively True

Turkey vultures on broken tree limbs overlooking the cemetery, lots of wow energy in observing them, is it too late to be a painter, et cetera. Late morning clearing near a pasture corner where the forest presses in, poplar and maple, raspberry bracken, vines I don't know the names of. Sunlight streaming, pillared and full of dust motes, half a dozen generations of family nearby, mist-like, watching. The scripture is what finds you, not the other way around. Blessed is a man who works with tools that don't scare horses. Oh the poem doesn't end there? Jasper comes by looking for old wood one of his kid can use to make picture frames and I let him pick through the scraps. Feral cats hunker by the potato garden awaiting insufficiently alert moles. The sentences of James Fenimore Cooper in the eyes of Mark Twain who was on this subject deranged. True stories are always relatively true. Rain on the grass, mist in the meadow. Squash plants overwhelming the rhubarb. Air is for breathing, living in, becoming happier and happier in. There are those who share our commitment to peace. And with that, begin.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Nonresistance to Alterity

Fathering fallen apples? Jogging in circles, arguing in my mind with men I haven't seen or spoken to in years. Sage, lavender, ambergris. When all along nonresistance to alterity was the answer. You can't just add another sentence! Late moon sinking in swaddles of mist. Cardinals by the ceramic Buddha tucked beneath the dying apple tree, baby swallows everywhere. When I saw the sun this morning I thought of Kenya, the savanna, and how happy we were once. Who doesn't like to smoke elk as snow falls? Fiddle tunes, fireworks, fortune tellers. One turns off the news, goes outside to listen to crickets and something quietens and something else clears its throat. Court jesters in Heaven can never be fired. Unlike certain pasta dishes, you only need to taste love once! Let us not descend into smile emojis, let us not cheapen the discourse with terms chosen by men we don't respect. I mean this puzzle of identity we are all on the verge of remembering is solved, and you too.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Hippies in Worthington Loved Me

Well, I am heir to those who made the dolmens, so there's that. Also, who said of speech we should write this down? The river flows to the sea while I run, neither of us going anywhere in particular. Rise, sun.

She wakes, sits up and I rub her back, and she lowers her head, graying hair obscuring the only profile I know better than my own. Cats yeowling downstairs, steady drip drip drip from the high-up eaves. A window is a nice thing but it wasn't always. Pancakes for lunch using leftover batter, spoon-crushed blackberries and yogurt on top.  

What we cherish and what is obscured thereby. A lot happened when I was little, the world was bigger then, a living breathing story, and I only just barely made it out. Social skills are not a reflection of who a person is! The swale is a symbolic indication of depths to which we are forced by grief, to which we would not otherwise go. 

Kids who read as if their life depended on it. Every day I make a collage out of what's in my mind. This stanza is dedicated to Elvis Costello. The hippies in Worthington loved me and made me realize that love was bigger than merely what Mom and Dad dictated, allowed, et cetera.

And felt mice and stuffed rabbits my daughter made when she was younger. Recipes in Greek only my mother-in-law can translate, because the words point to abstractions you only understand if you've made the dish or seen someone make it, or so I'm told.

And the concerns that are reflected in our art. My attitudes toward semicolons and Catholicism have largely tracked one another over the years, as if they are the same thing, or at least cousins.

There are baby starlings everywhere: look.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Helping You Balance

Gulping light in the morning, taking my coffee to the garden to watch sunflowers grow. The heart is a pick-up truck. Bits of straw fall from my shoulders, a dark way forward I am no longer obligated to take.

Fiddling with antique watches. Family discussions about what to do with Dad's train collection, which I can't bring myself to care about. Things fall and end and begin again, it's okay.

I am trying to say something about the current state of my life! I fake sleep and Chrisoula lays a quilt across me, then I am no longer faking. Fugue states and other topics one relegates to not worth writing about. Holding your hand, helping you balance while we cross the river. Eagles and hawks, turkey vultures. 

Whatever the heart is, it is approximately located where things are felt most intensely, probably because of how the heart beats faster or slower depending. Swimming across Upper Highland Lake, diving deep into reeds to where the water is cold and shadows.

Remember smoking pot in apple bongs, everyone impressed with how deft I could be with my jack knife and also that I had a jack knife. 

We were warned not to lay pennies on the trolley tracks, which was odd because the trolleys no longer ran but the tracks were there, cool and smooth to touch, always making me feel like things were better once and might be again.

The soul of those who read a lot. Modern druids exhaust me, I suspect they exhaust everyone, I think that it somehow validates their practice, exhausting the rest of us.

We live in an Iron Age fantasy.

Nibbling raw spinach at the party, working up the nerve to talk to my aunt, who has Leukemia and is dying, and I am sad and scared of my sadness. 

Walter Chandoha's The Mob, somehow my life came to this instead of that, may the gods without exception be praised. 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

On the Coffin Lid

Can we agree we lied. Reading eighteenth century recipes, adapting them, wondering what those cooking in that era would've had to say about our adaptations, our modes. 

Morning passes. The new compost station is more colorful than the others. Hacking away at the raspberry bushes to make room. I pass, too.

Apple seeds. Misrepresentations of motive that hurt us. One's study of dolmens - the first stage of the study at least - ends. A sound the earth makes when landing on the coffin lid. Love.

The post office on Saturday morning. Rosary prayers in a side yard lawn chair at dusk, happy in a way that isn't easily conveyed in language. Drying strawberries.

Spice rack envy. A history of the human race from the perspective of male genitalia or do I repeat myself. Teachers who sustain you for one part of the journey. Gazing east off Mount Ascutney. Long roads making sense now.

Those women at the cross showing all of us the cross.