Sunday, October 31, 2021

Never Peripheral

This, too, is what happens.

Nothing elides anything else. Rain on maple trees with only one or two leaves left. Chain saw grinding a quarter mile away. What man would I be if I had never had a son?

Hawks cross Route 202, I get beeped at because I swerve to see better, raise a hand to say my bad, hawk indistinguishable now from a crow. Blue light in the reservoir. Afternoon is what rises out of morning.

I remember skipping class to eat mushrooms, just sitting on the bed, watching numbers on the digital clock turn to meaningless lines and squiggles, knowing at last a language that transcended understanding. Poems left in Virginia Woolf paperbacks. I cried and each tear was a chunk of broken glass.

Light everywhere, even in death.

Context is decoration, extra, but never peripheral.

Between hemlock trees a seam opens, it's like gazing into another world beyond this one, Monarch butterflies the size of small cars.

Polishing the hardwood floors with watered-down vinegar, the movie Sophia is watching floating through ceilings and walls, happy-sounding dialogue, punchy music. 

How I let everybody down, how I crawl back, obfuscating any effective healing with performative penance. 

Early tricks, moves we made that worked but don't any longer. Bittersweet drying in moonlight.

But what?

The apple tree asks why we we never made love and I smile happily, grateful for trees that have not forgotten how to talk.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Beyond the Ability to Harm

Chainsaws drone a couple yards over, voices now and again rising to give directions. With difficulty, the writing is put aside. Last week the last Monarch butterfly rested in the spud garden while I dug up half a dozen rows, its wings slowly drying in the slow-rising sun. There are neither secrets nor mysteries, only games we play and conditions we agree to forget. Remember that! My heart is a Love Boat re-run, no better way to say it. Cinnamon raisin bread toasted with butter alongside hot tea. Ham dinners at the Congregational Church which we never attend, being given to something quieter, less social. I am passing beyond the ability to harm you, for which I am most grateful. Wind in the hemlocks, rain falling amid falling maple leaves. All this! A love letter one's life becomes, late and unexpected, the familiar grace getting more so all the time.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Mirrors Our Minds can Be

Late October graves. Who will tell us how long the dead must hang before their bodies can be claimed. Leaves falling, apples rotting in wet grass. A sudden craving for Christmas decorations, moonlight on snow, the magnetic clarity of brandy, toy trains endlessly running. The Hall of Mirrors our minds can be. How certain of the dead were touched by frost before they could be buried. River notes. Notes to the dead, once elaborately written in crayon, are now hasty I love yous scratched with whatever pen or pencil was at hand. One is never not asking how Emily Dickinson handled this or that interior way station. No wind but a cold like the inside of iron. Tom McGrath poems at the wedding, one of the last times I knew the audience. Crows flying against the wind, high up, their cries a kind of warning. All these languages barely remembered! Going outside at dusk to listen for the river, that moment in darkness when its song is restored to the world. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Atop the Low Hill Sighing with Happiness

Mist rises in the meadow. Translucence is angelic and always has been, I can say that now. Wedge of moon right where I left it.

Time to take down the scarecrows. The blind horse stumbles more these days, which we wonder is it winter coming or is something new going wrong. A phone ringing which you cannot find, though your searching grows increasingly frantic - that nightmare.

One day I will just leave, easy as a screen door closing in summer. Steam rises off the coffee. It is not that I am haunted but that I am predisposed to haunting.

Say what you want is hard precisely because what you really want is the end of wanting, which is the one thing want won't let you have. Monasticism is the last prism. It is time to take down the scarecrows - don't let me forget.

A few stars reminding me it's cold. I shake my arms after tossing the hay, gold threads sailing off my body into the sky. Dad didn't mind me suffering physical pain and had no idea at all how to address the not-unrelated existential crisis, hence our shared role in the atonement.

"Baby please don't go." We kiss a lot outside, always have, as yesterday at the garden gate, the dusk making everything hard to see, we kissed in the new way we have discovered of kissing, and after walk hand-in-hand to the house - lit up, atop the low hill - , sighing with happiness. On Sundays one sleeps in.

What is carved from quartz and floats above the apple trees singing. There's something about up but what. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Through Deserts Others Insisted I Construct

Frosty morning tossing hay to the horses, sun not yet peeking over hills (on the far side of which Emily Dickinson lived and wrote). Tilting my head so the waning gibbous moon is hidden by the decrepit - yet still fruiting - apple tree. Chickadees singing on a pile of junk wood past the garden. Neighbors exist to remind me my heart is not neighborly, life somewhat resembling a crossword puzzle, one I am determined to finish. Regret and restraint shaping (sometimes violently) one's sense of what is possible, basically the reason I'm so often in therapy, i.e., help me tell a happier story. My daughter's paintings everywhere, a sense of world emerging through them that is beautiful but less frail that my own reckoning indicates. Chrisoula asks me to wait on the dump run so she can go with, and so I sit with coffee in the kitchen later than usual, writing sentences (which, unlike lines, are always there to be written). What would a bell do at the bottom of the ocean is not a hard question to answer but in another sense, is impossible to answer. A friend asking me to clarify the blue light to which I respond - oddly almost desperately - place yourself in the presence of blue light and find out. The whole point of childhood was to reach the books of Tolkien, which settled so much of my fear of evil, instantiating a long aimless walk through deserts others insisted I construct which I am only just beginning to understand can end whenever I choose. What I'm saying is, no more penance, no more "not yet but soon." This heart, it asks for nothing but what can be given away, over and over and over. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

A Flawless God-lit Landscape

North now. Scarecrows tilted in hard winds. At dawn shadows of the marigolds reach the shadows of the sunflower stalks. 

And begin.

Driving slower than usual, rehearsing something that my grandmother approves of on behalf of angels who appear to me now with increasing regularity. Melted crayons. Slow-roasted pork. We take tea to the gazebo and sit through dusk, now and then chatting with passers-by, as if a difficult thing were suddenly not. 

Smoke rising off local chimneys. They are not ghosts but nor are they human. A sound water makes that pleases us, a light within that consumes all signifiers. A dream of darkness in which snow falls, each cool flake whispering a secret origin story.

Sword-swallowers, glass-eaters, women with beards and children with only passing ideas about who their parents are. Welcome to the Kingdom of the Bereft. 

Mountains on the summits of which I've kissed a girl. The silent choir, the blue light in my throat illuminating a world.

The Connecticut River a blue braid forever bisecting the wilderness, a seam in a flawless God-lit landscape. Not chaos so much as disorder, driven in part by an internal sense of futility, passivity. Would you like to read a book I think will help?

All the ones who with us wait for a grace the forsaken insist on receiving by degrees.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Rivering the Cosmos

And when I do die, who will throw rose petals before the coffin as it is born up the street in a horse-drawn wagon? The light in the hemlocks is always new if one is looking carefully enough. I mean, yeah, psilocybin's great but have you ever tried growing and harvesting your own spuds? Sex when you can't tell what the other is thinking or whether what you're doing is working. Sun on the far hills as if it's been away from us for years or am I only just figuring out sleep. Putting away the guitars.

At midnight I lay down on cool grass in moonlight and ask myself what happened. Remember nonviolence?

All monuments are blind. Male psychology matters but only in certain contexts, most of which are becoming less frequent. Train tracks buried in snow. 

What did you say the mystery was again?

Rewatching the trailer for The Omen which was an early confirmation that my suspicions about evil weren't wrong. Society, man.

Chrisoula asks why certain bottles on the hay loft window sills are set the way they are and laughs when I tell her it's beyond what can be explained. Trout gathering into schools, disappearing into a single point of light high up in the Milky Way, that semen-colored spiral stream of stars rivering the cosmos.

A sound tea makes being poured, largely unreplicated since the nineteenth century. Monsters we are, monsters we are becoming, monsters we will never be again. When the sentences are short it's because they're being squeezed through a rainy aperture.

Speak, rose bush, and I will do thy bidding.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Shifts in Both Function and Intention

The next steps are dark ones - shall we take them together? 

Night lights, flash lights, floating lights that signify our confusion about the Lord.

Turning to the rain, turning to the wind.

Who is dear. Slowing down at certain curves in the road to gaze into sloping fields in which sunlight rests.

A way of thinking in which Medusa is synonymous with simulacra. On the other hand, not everything needs to be explained. Geese pass, "geese pass" passes, and "'geese pass' passes" passes too.

Even to long for liberation is an error. From a distance, muffled voices rise, reminding me of how in winter we often speak into our scarves.

I kept dropping, layer by layer, into ego. Suddenly the story shifts and it's no longer about witches and sex but angels, salvation and gardens. "Libras are inclusive as fuck."

Small group dialogue. What is left?

We learn to touch each other a certain way, and as we age, our touching shifts in both function and intention, and this too is a form of love, this too is a mode of desire.

Crushed basil leaves, crushed mint. Finding a way back has been the familiar project of this life. The wanderer, the sine qua non. 

Even in apologies, even in apologies.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

All the Dead Pigs

What else is prismatic slowly became the realization that everything was prismatic if you looked at it right. Hemlock trees in cold rain. Glass bottles full of polished quartz and amethyst. Fewer and fewer mornings writing while the coffee goes cold and more mornings holding the coffee in both hands, gazing into space as if a window somewhere were about to open. Crayon angels slip through the gaps, telling lies about the trinity. We who were keen once on psychedelics, for whom the world was malleable and only amenable to brief moments of clarity. She runs the shower and I picture her leaning, then play the games of memory: when did we last shower together? We gained a lot of control over temperature and speed through the years, which control is related to the assertion - not made enough in my opinion - that Buddhism is not the answer. One rolls through stormy tides of sleep, waking over and over to various stages of moonlight. Regret over all the dead pigs. Prayer as distraction, prayer as denial. Days pass before the stomach pain passes, a reminder that "eating out" - really any meal not originating in the garden - is no longer feasible. Slowing down where Montgomery Mountain crests in order to search the foggy fields for deer, that happiness. While something maternal awakens, rearranges the calendar, and orders all ships to sea. Oh this watercolor life, oh these soft pastels against which the awful guns of childhood were finally beaten to plowshares.

Friday, October 22, 2021

All in on Turtles

If you look you will notice trees growing, softly expanding into space. I find a handmade ceramic turtle at the take-it-or-leave-it shed, I take it, I am all in on turtles, I always have been. How in the middle of the night one wakens and decides to go to sleep again. Making love on marble, slaughtering pigs on marble, arguing about the nature of reality on marble. The ghost of Socrates alive in each of us. Fallen maple leaves so dense not a single blade of grass is visible. We meet in the garden to discuss the final harvest, and agree the flowers must all be allowed to remain, for however deeply we are lost in October, the bees are with us still. Imagine no longer relegating madness to the attic anymore. These bodies are like churches, political movements, like history even. Narrative is a container into which we pour and out of which we spill. All the dead, they wrap around me like a blanket.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Loving an Extension of an Old Promise

We persevere. We go into the dialogue each the other's bearer, and we make the map by insisting on long silences. 

What is green, what lives, what is that blue light in your throat. We make love without talking, our loving an extension of an old promise to keep an even older agreement fashioned by women only one of us knows. 

Rain in the afternoon yet after midnight the clouds rapidly disperse leaving starlight and the soft music of water slipping through veils made of maple leaves.

There are many lies but only one truth? Going through old articles I read in 2014 and 15, back when Husserl was the answer. What else is prismatic (and not how do prisms work) was a nontrivial inquiry that consumed a great deal of childhood

Letting go can be conditional but the letting go to which I am now committed cannot be. In another room a phone rings and nobody answers. 

Comprised of inferences, references and sentences. Rereading Watership Down, remembering it as one of the few pieces of writing outside of Wendell Berry's essays and John's Gospel that Dad and I agreed mattered. Waves roll up on the beach, and all the grains of sand whisper that death when it comes will not be so bad.

She leads me to an interior temple I had long disregarded, instructs me to clean it, and says she will be back in a week or two. At night now I play guitar on the back steps, the songs that made me happiest - City of New Orleans, Don't Think Twice, Duncan and Pastures of Plenty

Saw in hand, scaling the hemlocks next to the chicken coop, it occurs to me I may be overplaying the "I hate cutting down trees" card. 

The marigolds go on, the cosmos go on.

Her shyness extending the invitation makes me weep answering yes. At night the river begs a different understanding of music and darkness.

There are many ways to wash Her feet, and all of them together are the only reason to kneel.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What was Hidden for Lifetimes

In a sense, I am a scavenger but in another sense, a treasure seeker. First one into the take-it-or-leave-it shed finds a ceramic turtle that looks angry from the front but from the side is happy and kind. Undressing in darkness, pulling the blankets back, seeing in her what was hidden for lifetimes. A blind man describing moonlight. Taking the old chair apart, carrying the wood to the big pile out in the forest, home to foxes, slowly smokelessly dissolving. An early obsession with glass and other transparencies, as if they modeled a way of being in the world, or was it simply I fell for one of the many spells the Goddess casts. Blue stones missing in New England, a sorrow. Yet Halloween approaches, an early favorite holiday, a promise of some kind that had to do with how God saw and handled evil. Rice noodles with raw eggplant cut very thin. Her voice the most familiar, her shoulders thin and stronger than tree limbs. And now purple, and now this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A Flake of Snow Once

Christmas lights strung across beams in the hayloft, twenty or so glass bottles full of rocks and marbles and crystals, and my collection of oven mitts. Who have I disappointed is never a hard question to answer.

The middle of me grows dark, as if a brook were entering the earth, no longer able to reflect the sun. Dragonflies in late summer, high up in the hemlocks.

And so at last I break on the stone wall of forgiveness. Crawl into mushrooms and sleep the sleep of the dead.

What do you care about most? I remember sitting quietly by an open window overlooking Church Street, gazing at people passing, knowing their lives were rich and full and forever beyond me (thought in an early failure of love, this did not prompt me to ask what I was).

The energy body wakes up but like a toad in the garden. Ripples when we kneel to touch the lake to see how cold it is.

Nobody wants to hear about love. Leaving the bedroom at five a.m., exhausted and confused, in need of prayer.

Late fall roosters casting their spell on the sky. For I was a flake of snow once, high above the sea and then I was the sea.

This sentence replaces the sentence I promised I would not write. The thing about ghosts is that you are haunting them, not the other way around.

You throw yourself against the flood, as Jesus did against the cross, and for what. In my dream the roller coaster was covered with vines, each one of which had dozens of tiny roses on it, and it was dusk, and I was alone.

Years later remembering what you forgot to do for a woman in Ireland whose name you have now forgotten. This drama, does it ever end.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Neither Penance nor Gift

It is morning - can we say it is the last morning ever? Yesterday rain fell unexpectedly. Not every question is meant to be answered, yet every body can be reconfigured in the body of another, itself a kind of answer. My favorite letter is one of the letters Denise sent me from England, which I threw away decades ago, completely failing to understand the laws of love and perception. Open windows at night deep into October, pulling the comforter tighter. Lean in or out, fine, but don't leave. Blessing acquires the nature of a toad in the garden - something I don't understand, something that frightens me, something that's hard to talk about (unless you're allowed to fake some parts). I cobbled together a mythology in childhood - horses, witches, prisms, loss - and have not yet managed to decode or decouple from it. Dad's thing for trucks, a symbol of what we could never find a way to share about meaningfully. Watch your step! Chrisoula comes into the hayloft, a center that is neither penance nor gift, but the the familiar getting more so all the time. Only fools ask "and then what?" 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Deeper into October

And was it, in the end, a joy? What promises did you make without even intending to keep them? I had dreams, vivid ones, and in each of them I was traveling through a country in which people were vaguely troubled - many unexplained deaths, many unexplained disappearances - and they wondered briefly - dispiritedly - if I was there to help, which I was not. Reruns, advertising. Robot dogs, drone weapons, facial recognition software - we live in dystopia and deny it every day, which denial is all dystopia needs. Hot sun lasting deeper into October than usual. Imagine a world in which they figure out how to tax each breath. Asters in hand. The way it works is I move a bunch of books around on the desk in order to clear a space to write. Blown glass ornaments catching the light. A child offers you a maple leaf - what do you do? Christ trying to wipe the tears from your face with his broken hands is how you realize the point all along wasn't to be consoled but to do the hard part - the grief part - yourself. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Made Difficult by Rain

Could it be darker. Roman imperial religion doomed to fail, undone by love which forever eschews the merely performative. Lost in unworkable sentiment, sentence by sentence making sense of it. A rat on its haunches near the river, working its way through an apple core gathered from who knows what orchard. The unmockable. This light the angels placed in my throat by which I can just make out what to say in unfamiliar circumstances. When was there ever time. They say that when you die you are briefly surprised. Ordinary blues. River crossings made difficult by rain, sometimes by a reluctance to keep moving. Think of them, the shepherds long ago who fashioned a new God out of long nights with their flocks, stargazing and rethinking - possibly without knowing they were rethinking - the efficacy of prayer. We are the ones who invented crucifixion then climbed on the cross to celebrate. A carafe of cold water, please. Rose petals. A chimney made of brick. Late fall flowers mocking all our conclusions, and yet.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Something Far Away

Half moon over the post office, something flickering - blue then red, like those tin sparklers we played with in the 1970s - on the opposite horizon. The chickens murmur when we enter the barn late. A grasshopper on hot stone as if October weren't already lost. The cat hunkers low in wet grass, then leaps into the ferns where something unfortunate happens. In the end, it is not a metaphysical inquiry, nor is philosophy especially helpful. Shall we travel then to Utica? Once down what does not rise again? Gently spreading the last of this year's raspberry preserves over fried sourdough bread. She watches me undress, her eyes seeing something far away, like the white sail of a boat between high waves. Christ going as a dragon this Halloween. Soon, my dear, you will have a most exquisitely difficult anarchy, more vivid than any dream. This anchor, this saddle pad, this bead of blood and sorrow.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

For Too Long I Slept

Slivered crystals held to the light. We circle the harvested cornfield, stalks bent like matchstick dancers frozen in time. How quiet the river is when we are sitting beneath the apple tree, holding hands.

One twines the several bandanas a certain way around the upright floor lamp, using the activity as a delay tactic. Dialogue is more about silence than anything else, a fact I am only just learning, surprise surprise. Apples with cheddar cheese, washed down with beer, a comfort.

And the sun falls from the sky and bats begin circling under a purpling canopy. Many glass bottles filled with small stones and sand, some with beach glass, others marbles. This light that is in your throat now is all the light there is.

Kneeling to see a particular chunk of quartz better. Two men talking in a field, cows milling about. When I was little I imagined driving pickup trucks, and when I finally drove them I felt far away from a child I wished to honor and so never drove a pickup again.

Snake skin, owl feather, antique nail. Last of the goldenrod leaning out where the yard narrows heading towards the horses. It's not what you see but what you gather, and what you gather is always a form of sorcery.

Stumbling where one is accustomed to gliding. How an I explain it, the Goddess appearing to both of us, as pure as polished glass, unshakeable like marble. For too long I slept, the priestess waiting at the altar.

What story are you telling and how does it intersect with stories that others are telling. Note to a future self: ghosts do not participate in dreams.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Her in the Far Field

For we have gone to the well, and we have drunk from there what is offered there, and we are humbled before the Lord accordingly.

Smoking cigarettes while the train idled in the Italian countryside, struck by the heat and the clarity, the hills rising as if made of rust, and the low bushes on them a grim reminder we live by the grace of others.

Trout rising, sylvan and lovely, from the river all the way into the sky, starlight pouring down all around us.

I do not know me the way others do.

Wedding bands. For whom do we sell the whole ship and turn away forever from the sea, pretending to be content with so little.

Rain spit. Emily Dickinson's use of capital letters, the bridge Jonathan Edwards is, and Robert Penn Warren's studied insistence on suffering.

Analysis is a form of masking. The story you tell is also telling you, which is very hard to see in a sustained way, and yet seeing it so is what liberates us unto the country of joy and peace.

She leads me home to the Country of Turtles, where there is nothing left to do, and nobody needs to be saved.

Something clear and true was established by Socrates and David Bohm, and it has to with how we talk and with whom, and everything you write either serves this something or is at war with this something, and service is always the better way to end this particular conflict.

My story has finally become a story of salvation, rag-tag and roughshod, more luck than discipline, more gift than intent, and yet.

Any desire to convert the other is a form of violence against love. Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

God is that which is tirelessly present, ever sustaining us in the moment's luminous heart. Love forever seeks a way to work it out together.

Look at her in the far field, this witness unto holiness too long ignored.

Passing geese passing rain clouds in a life that at last need not flee from itself.

Om shanti shanti shanti, amen.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Far from the Familiar Combination

Light rain obscuring the far hills but not Emily Dickinson. Heron flies away knowing the haiku poet intends to capture rather than liberate him.

It is a good morning to be lonely so I am lonely. Picking through discarded glasses and bottles at the dump.

I remember him sitting with a shotgun on his lap drinking beers from a little cooler at this feet, bane of rats and coyote. Let us hasten less quickly in the direction of death.

Somebody greased the higher rungs of the ladder. At night feeling one with the shepherds who invented monotheism out of starlight, loneliness and fear.

Whose theme is this? Watercolors of dragonflies on summer ponds, where I'd've gone if I were going in any direction.

My dead grandmother visited to plead the case for sanity and I struggled mightily to attend the lesson. Late - possibly too late - I realize what it means to live in love.

Remembering to be the solution you are looking for. What demon or ghost insisted that the guitars remain but go unplayed?

Listening to Dylan in northern Vermont, driving in circles for hours, pulling over to piss where the roads were most forested. The light you are, the fire.

Women who utter a word a certain way and thus change it for you forever. He was drunk but congenial, a puzzling - because far from the familiar - combination.

Glass turtles. The light wild, everywhere, blinding and hot, and yet still not sufficient unto the darkness of my heart.

Monday, October 11, 2021

A Bright Light Obscuring the Truth

Sometimes I close my eyes for a long time. Crushed body of the milk snake remembered, dogs gone on ahead to where the trails are dim and misty. Eden comes to grief, grief to salvation, salvation to what we cannot say and anyway don't need to. Those nineteenth century headstones appear in dreams so often you can no longer call it coincidence. What kind of day do you want and what kind of day can you offer? I'd rather commune than commingle. Apple tree coming down limb by limb in rain storms and passing winds, speaking consistently of sinlessness and love. Hopefully I'll no longer need to begin sentences with the phrase "in a sense" again. Holding hands watching Don't Look Back, looking neither forward nor back but merely outward, at a bright light obscuring the truth. We travel and our traveling includes an evolving understanding of what narrative is (it is also a form of traveling). But what is family and why are meals. Lost and lonely in the only morning ever.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

October Skies Taking My Tears

What is female anger?

A cardinal passes in loping flight across the corner of my vision, pausing on a fence post, the slivered moon rising off its left shoulder.

Scrambled eggs, letters, sentences, lives. Between the river and the path to the river, between the mountain and the shadow in the valley that the mountain casts on such and such a day.

Try to remember what was before - before Easter, before longing, before the brutish howl in this inevitable and undulating void.

Credit where credit is due Hayden Carruth, Wendell Berry, Robert Bly and Jack Gilbert.

Black bra straps just visible making conversation slippery, as if something better were always lurking just off to the side, and you want to topple - tumble - into it.

Crows in the graveyard, facing the church, silent for once. The apple tree branch that fell earlier this summer has become a signifier - wholeness is the message of its brokenness.

I, too, am waiting on a miracle, as others wait on certain kinds of kisses, and others yet on something inexpressible yet realer than kisses or miracles.

Remember maple syrup drizzled on snow - a bite of pickle, a mouthful of caramelized snow - all of us laughing while the adults drank whiskey, sunlight sparkling everywhere, even on our tongues, as if childhood were a country one didn't have to leave.

Well, I remember singing Patsy Cline songs with Kirk on Lake Champlain, both of us drunk and stoned, in ways closer to the stars than I ever would be again. 

Where we go when our going is not filtered by our inner parent, critic, priest, biologist or law professor. Hot air balloons lifting slowly into October skies taking my tears with them.

The river is cold but hell if I'm not still crossing over.

What's your favorite war? The two rest stops in Vermont - both heading north - where I once had sex, rushed and breathy, and afterwards kind of embarrassed, the loneliness deeper than I was capable then of saying.  

No more familiar sorrows. Hell is knowing it can always be worse. 

Leaning out, not leaving.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Beyond Measure or Redemption

Remember getting up to change the channel. Narragansett, Budweiser and briefly for laughs Billy Beer. What's your mood ring say? Sunlight passes through blue glass bottles on the hay loft window sill, and a violet blur on the far wall travels slowly through what remains of my life. Mist floats above the river, a pale torus, as I float high above you - a thousand galaxies away - still knowing perfectly the one at whom I gaze. It's like mind is a recently-harvested corn field, or a dog that doesn't understand why it's being chased, or those trout I didn't release who now swim unimpeded through thousand-year-old starlight. Led Zeppelin's "All of my Love," a perfume she wore that I believe was named "Blue Jeans," and a joy so pure and true it was like what I pretend prayer is like today. I have no excuse for my body, its various hungers, including the hunger to be done with all hunger, and the hunger to be done with that hunger. Order up! While somewhere in the distance a bell rings - not Christmas exactly but something lovely that signifies a new, an unfamiliar, beginning - and all of a sudden my heart is Bethlehem, a star in the East, a birth in a stable, a joy beyond measure or redemption.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Faintly Suturing a Horizon

As we watch, geese fly overhead, a muscular line more than a V, seven of them angling for fields on the other side of Route Nine.

And the rain falls and falls. 

Eventually we see that attention is not ours but rather we are its. Antique clocks ticking, typewriters once gathering dust on shelves suddenly clattering, an old man selling umbrellas ducking into the shop to avoid a sudden rain.

The image is dead, whatever else it is, and so it cannot respond to or be in relationship with you in any way. 

Irish fairies dancing in moonlight, a line of pine trees faintly suturing the horizon to the earth. One barely reaches the lowest rung, hears the one note comprising the one song, and ascends accordingly. 

How I long to rest in you, like a lake rests in its bed which rests on the earth.

Sword-swallowers, Roman historians, and the dreams of factory workers in China. The one I want to see nodding in appreciation, nods in appreciation, and I am made glad thereby.

Let us not privilege either blue or purple. Black-capped chickadee eating from my hand, how long have I been eating from yours?

How her face lit up when the hawk passed and I understood at once what I was doing and why I was there. 

Schemes, grifts, card sharks, mall rats. Shall I bring you cake or shall I keep it and only dream of us eating cake together. 

Whatever story you're telling yourself, whatever justification you're forging in the shadows of your mind, forgiveness and punishment are mutually exclusive.

Some equilibrium forgotten and yet not forsaken, never forsaken, as if to remind us "this is how grieving is made."

Socrates argued that it was better to rely on dialogue through speech than on writing. What is a right use of mind and how will we know? 

The candy you are, the castle. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

From the Fire Swaying

This is not a love song.

They are gazing out from old photographs, they are begging me to stop looking at them, they will not stop looking at me.

Oxen in fields of daisies. You have to ask - you have to see - who are you afraid of and why.

Rain draped across the barn roof like silver, falling like a thousand marriages forsaken for the joy of following Jesus.

Slapping the earth, crying to the one who is beautiful but still, dance!

Oh dandelions you are never not welcome in the ruined gardens of this sacred because wounded heart. 

Of him we say, the crucifixion, it didn't take.

Hay deliveries. 

Johnny Thunder's Pipeline.

I remember kissing on Lake Champlain a hundred yards from the fire, swaying in time to the soft lap of water on October sand.

It's possible there is only et cetera and our work is to liberate its doomed calling to contain everything we don't say. 

How you enter the space of d minor when the lights are low and you think nobody is listening.

I've been tired a long time, and my tiredness is related to the absence of joy. 

Imagine Jesus telling you he'd climb back on that cross in a heartbeat if you asked him, if you wanted proof, and knowing in your heart he means it.

This is my hand, in it you may rest, and if you need water you may take it to the river and sip from it. 

Oh look who's in bed with me now.

Ground hamburger with peppers, tomatoes and feta, served hot on rice with a side of lettuce and lemon juice.

Angry women with whom we refuse to not be in dialogue, no matter what the price - this is an old law that served a long time but now I ask: is it healing or does it merely postpone healing?

Of what is Kenya (the Titanic, the witch in Hansel and Gretel, apple trees, chickadees, black bears, back roads, uncles and cannabis et cetera) a symbol?

You can never fail: your perfection is written in the cosmos: a single syllable in a song older than everything, including your ideas about me and God. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Miles We can Only Guess at

Childhood is a thousand lifetimes ago - who said that? Chainsaws rattle on the other side of the river, somebody keeps stopping and starting a car. Remember that poet who taught you the wrong lessons, yet who created two images - one haunting, the other beautiful, both stunning - that to this day you remember?

Liqueur glasses on the hay loft window sill, full of marbles, splendid in the sunlight. At a distance, towels blow on the neighbor's clothesline, distracting me with visions of clumsy angels approaching from the western hills. The golfer in me, like the sailor in me, surrendered to the Irish warrior in me, who sang bravely in dangerous places until a woman saved him (and then he just settled down and read his books and gardened).

Liars and those who save them. I could not easily hold my father's attention and, in many ways, nearly died trying (a fate certain uncles of mine did not escape). Bales of hay stacked in the pickup rattling around the back roads, the two of us laughing and drinking and later making love near Hruberic Orchards as the sun went down.

The last of the hemlocks waving in gentle winds under blue skies. There are outlaws all around us. What puzzle are you trying to solve, what letter is even now being smuggled to you across miles we can only guess at. 

On the other hand (ha ha), there really is "the world's smallest violin." I remember horses as a child, and creating a space in which my daughter could own them, and then being stunned to see the pain did not go anywhere just because. And cousins who cannot make it through rehab and are supported by mothers.

This is not your story. She was beautiful and happy, a little shy but also determined, and she was full of light, even in the shade. Forgetting everything, down to the kiss.

Is this church? Someone is waiting but who and for what? 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Less than was Asked

Childhood is a thousand miles away now, a boat on rough seas disappearing into the horizon, like being swallowed by a snake. In my mind, the pigs are an argument.

Each time you do it, you swear it's the last time you'll do it. Bras in the 1970s.

What happens to our voices as we age. Roller skates, go go boots, Chuck Taylors.

What would you give to be born again. Pink roses like clouds on the bathroom wallpaper, soft in the nightlight's glow.

What was the name of the Irish actress again, the one you saw at a distance on the ferry from Le Havre, who moved her head in a way that called attention to her shoulder, grounding your erotic sensibility for the next thirty year? It was like this, then it was like something else, and on and on it went, until we forgot what we were looking at.

Better off than what though? Pausing to watch the crescent moon as it fades in the sky, the horses behind me crunching hay.

What stories no longer work yet still are told, meaning they do work but you don't know why? Ransomed.

Dying, too, takes time. Who among those beautiful early beings would have thought the cross would become a decoration?

My grandmother visits, gentle and beautiful, bearing messages related to my father and his brother. Bringing the Christmas cactuses in from the woods where they spent the summer and early fall.

We never give nothing, only less than was asked. Basements are for orphans and others we only pretend to like.   

Monday, October 4, 2021

Lost in an Elaborate Castle

Without you I am luminous, and must remain so, for only in such luminosity do you appear. Emily Dickinson trailing her fingers along the banister, slowly ascending from the kitchen where she was baking bread, to the bedroom in which she will write that her life is a loaded gun, which she has been thinking about for days. So much happens when we say "maybe" instead of "yes."

Books of poems on the little table by the bed. Let us not study war but peace.

Cobwebs in the front stairwell and a dim light which makes one think they perhaps overestimated the nineteenth century. Certain Eddie van Halen solos that made you realize playing fast wasn't the sine qua non you'd long thought. We have these lists, we have these ideals. Actually, time does not pass - we do.

Holes in the wall through which rats peer, waiting to see who is there to see them and who is not. When we are free, we do not think in terms of freedom or its absence. Oatmeal with and without raisins.

Falling asleep reading, waking up to her gently removing your glasses murmuring "I've got it, it's okay, sleep." 

The goddess for the moment making no big deal about being a goddess. Sunflowers loosening seeds, the last Monarch butterfly of the season perhaps. The distance is monstrous, also a chapel.

Nihilism is a dark sea, you sit on its shore for years and then wade into its low waves, and sink below its opaque surface, and there is no cure for this but this.

Late but not too late learning the peril and unhelpfulness of charm. You make this prayer of me and I forget what I am, lost in an elaborate castle made of ritual and repetition that you designed.

My heart is a birdhouse, my brain a garden, and my cock - that luminous interrupter - is a bookmark.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Merely Simulacra

Is there time to write another poem? You think haiku are simple and you're actually correct, but this a sentence. The rivers in Worthington and the stones I took from them and carry with me still, still flowing.

When we take a thing apart we create a responsibility to ensure it is put back together.

Wild rice with sauteed onions and slivered carrots. Raisin bran in a dark kitchen, roosters crowing two doors down, asking hard questions.

In early fall the blind horse begins crying out earlier and earlier, something in the air alerting him to his hunger and the earth's provision. Many of us are always sad, or often sad.

The movement of your breasts when you move your arm reaching for a pen. Why do we pose and why do some of us resisting posing, futilely, because resisting posing is itself a pose?

Avoiding music more and more in the emerging awareness of rhythms and harmonies implicit in living to which our own musicality is merely simulacra. Phone numbers we remember from childhood.

In a dream you floated a little above me, wrapped in translucent silk, and we ate hallucinogenic lilies and communed with moonlight. 

The grief I felt when I learned Bon Scott was dead, and how nobody helped me manage it. Mail slots, lost wallets, liver spots.

Bits of cracked corn the chickens left softening in last night's rain. There are other weddings, other marriages, and there is a country beyond all that in which even the idea of coupling is obviated by oneness.

I remember loose horses galloping through the back yard, my father and I watching from a distance he insisted on. 

Fallen apples, fallow Edens.

After dusk say, by the fire out back, nestling in tangled blankets, coming together kissing, our cries echoed by stars who cannot help but envy our love.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Gifts My Mother Refused

Ask: what atmosphere does your writing create? Doors too narrow to pass through are a response to what problem. No I will not be consistent, thank you very much.

A heron crossing Route Nine a little after seven a.m., just me and the long-haulers in this pretty corner of Massachusetts.

Shadows of clouds crossing far hills.

With what do we not interfere? One dreams of fucking in ways that create egalitarian outcomes for the world, and yet ends up in the very fantasy the non-egalitarian world inspired long before.

Plus signs.

What are we actually looking at? Mugs which - no longer able to hold coffee - instead hold pens. We have this understanding of Hawaii, we have this understanding of women.

Gifts my mother refused, seeing perhaps the way in which the giving arose in poorly-articulated ideas about gender and power, which confusion was shared, and not helped in any way by the refusal. 

Who sleeps in the basement, who hides in the hay loft getting high, reading Robert Bly poems.

I mean, consider how clumsily the idea of transference (of power through sexual desire) addresses the very real problem of unhappiness.

Let us go into the very heart of what we do not wish to go into. 

Grendel coming up from the swamp, sniffing around the fire, all of us wondering who is going to find their inner Beowulf first. I miss licking envelopes, putting my tongue on things has always been one of the great joys of my life.

Corrective norms of which we are unaware, operating in us.

Lies I tell because of lies I told because of lies I knew were lies and lacked the power to correct, long ago in a city known primarily for its famous executions.

Friday, October 1, 2021

An Eagle or a Ghost

Basically, the thing at which I am good - arguing - is no longer needed. 

The surprisingly difficult question of figuring out whether we sex is learned or innate, which obviously revolves around defining desire.

Listening to the mechanic fix the car, eighties-era heavy metal muted in the background.

We who "get around to it."

Childhood was a forest in which many animals were lost and never found and - when one went into the forest to find those animals - one forgot what they were doing in lieu of simply falling in love with the forest. 

Or am I describing here a way of being in the world.

Letting dialogue be which turns out to consistently indicate a shared preference for silence.

Kissing Chrisoula in the garden, then taking pictures of kissing Chrisoula in the garden, and then realizing the question of who to kiss or why kissing at all has not been answered but effaced.

Whales in the moonlit sea. Tides in the heart as a form of obedience.

1970s "bodice-rippers" were an early influence, at odds with the power of the women in my life, but probably attractive for that very reason.

A sentence that contains multiple perspectives, points in more than one direction, moves you out of the text in which it appears, high above, like an eagle or a ghost.

My son playing my old guitars and my oldest daughter not answering when I ask a question about her recent reading of Emily Dickinson are the same happiness.

Mice happily nibbling bread crumbs we swept to the floor in disdain is the way of being Christian that I understand.

All the water used in slaughtering chickens, the afternoon becoming heavy in ways we did not anticipate.

Are we simply playing at establishing new hierarchies? Coughing at four a.m. in the hay loft, prayer an old man begging loose change in the subway. What we choose to leave unexamined.

An occasional emphasis on swans.

Chickadees resting briefly in the low limbs of the apple tree: summer is ended and will never come again.