Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A Child Between Winter Stars

Everything revolves around the blind horse it seems. Even time has this specifically gentle way of being utterly still in moonlight. A space makes a stanza, a silence makes a poem.

Here are the hemlocks, which are like my grandfathers smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey, professing confused ideals about their Irish heritage. If I could ascend, I would, but I'm stuck here praying that the mountains will be lifted up. Going down on her in the warm pantry, one of her hands on the back of my head, the other against her mouth, muffling moans and come cries. 

Yet another invitation to read tarot cards for profit which, much like poetry and prayer, I have so far avoided doing. The dogs recede a little in death, as from time to time in life they did as well, going farther off the trail than I could manage. You would be surprised I'm sure by how much blood is in a pig.

Grace begets more grace. Friends who died young, mostly from drinking and/or driving too fast, and how I didn't understand how to be sad at their funerals. She put her hand on my cheek in a way I remember.

Sure, go ahead, call it love, in the end that's all anything is anyway. The connection I made one night as a child between winter stars and frozen gravel and how sad I am that it will probably die when I die, unless reading this you are somehow able to make the connection too. You develop a certain attitude about question marks and commas and then talk about them at apparently odd times, people looking at you like who invited this asshole to the party?

Playing piano again, just a little in the afternoon when I don't feel like opening a guitar case, those notes that always reminded me of sailboats out past the harbor. I remember on the shores of Lake Champlain, turning our backs on the wind to get high. Ghosts are not dead is about the best way to put it, unless you put it that the dead are not ghosts.

It's not really poetry so much as a sickness trying to heal itself with words. Who doesn't fear snakes.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Travelers Parted By a River

Waking before the crows wake, while the rooster still dreams. In the family bible, custodianship of which fell to me, are several dried roses in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians which nobody can account for. What Jonathan calls "spiritual condoms."

Though driving through the city in early November after dark does make one rethink their indifference to holiday decorations. The skin on the back of my hands grows thin and wrinkly, and my father weeps in the dusk he now inhabits. Who needs a comma? 

Commence! We fight wars, we build walls, but we can also change. The woman behind the counter selling weed was puzzled by my ineptitude, a somewhat new feature of my relationship with the collective.

Mice scratching in the hay loft walls, the one heater rattling. Coffee is what my brain is not disappointed by. On the other hand, it's projections all the way down.

Everybody wants a lover who wants what they want, but what I want is peace, and the lover who brings it forth in me does not have a body. I remember telling Denise I liked a good sneeze as much as coming and she said, "so next time I'll bring pepper." Zen Buddhists abound.

Early snowfall, the potato garden spackled. Chrisoula's loneliness grows in rough tandem with my own, it's like we're travelers parted by a river we're unaware you're allowed to cross. Or else what indeed.

Sophia and I both laughing at "well well well if it isn't the bridge I said I'd cross when I got to it." It's happening again, isn't it.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

In Terms of Fairy Tales

Trembling driving away from where we gave the guns away. Such a beautiful terrible childhood, one understood mainly in terms of fairy tales. Sunlight on the hemlocks, a cold that seems to begin inside you.

Mornings when there isn't enough coffee. Watching Charlie Chaplin videos. I remember the 1970s, and know the specific peril posed by nostalgia, and yet.

Let us not be apocalyptic. At night I sit quietly on the back stairs and listen to the river and look at the stars and remember I have been doing this for at least ten thousand years. We are mostly what our limits are.

How hard the story tries to find a victim, and how willingly I acquiesce. Gravel in the driveway freezes as winter comes on and at night I find myself on my knees seeking whatever light hides there. Bob Dylan albums I postponed listened to in order to have a lifetime of new Bob Dylan music, a goal he has consistently neatly confounded. 

Roald Dahl's story about Danny and his father, a loveliness that even as a child I could hardly bear. Many mouth injuries, many broken limbs. And will you say when the last goddess comes to kiss you good night forever "thank you?"

Unable to sleep, unwilling to get out of bed I simply lay in the darkness and think about the pasture behind our first house in Worthington. Nobody builds an altar who actually understands what an altar is. Voices the mushrooms use are angels who use the mushrooms to reach me through the dense fog of confusion and pain that is mostly my mind.

Left alone to wake up. Even now, even now.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Fire Rather than Smoke

Sharp light bleeding off the edges of clouds themselves sinking like tired oxen into leafless hills. There is no cooperation without at least the illusion of the other. Blue prayer beads my wife bought in Greece before we met, a sorrow for me, brightly-lit.

We are compositions, seamlessly integrated into the composer's heart. Ask what you see when you are not using your eyes but your mind. Stars wheeling through the sky, now and then trailing off like milky dust.

I walk two hours up Main Street and into Plainfield, the cold become as still as the interior of a stone, flakes of snow drifting through the dark like planets. Spirals, spelling errors, Spanish lessons. How as a child I longed to break open quartz rocks to find the pure light, unmarred by contact with the world.

Blurred minds. We are fire rather than smoke, crackling above fast-disappearing logs, ash always a symbol of what we long for. What helps?

What happened? Reflections of Christimas lights in windows facing the pasture and river. Early maps of Cape Cod.

Loose folds of skin around her throat, stretching as she lifts her head in anger, a familiar look and way of being that's older than I am. How in my early twenties I would spend hours painting my guitar case - crosses, rainbows, flowers, furling galaxies, soap bubbles. At dusk the horse whinnies half-heartedly, less demanding and more just checking does his voice still work.

Creaking clothesline as laundry is brought in. But this is not a story, is it.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Closer to Murder than Not

Travelers are subject to clouds. Between the mountain and the summit of the mountain there is nothing but a journey. We are antiquated, discarded like old calendars, we are made of what nobody wanted anyway.

Hand-painted rocks on the shelf by Sylvia Plath's three books, making me smile briefly, before slipping into the specifically intimate sadness I feel about all suicides. It rains off and on but the horses don't care. Speaking of which, I'm leaning into adjectives now, damn the many teachers who tried to counsel me otherwise.

Other ways? Jeremiah and I debate the merits of buying a car, but my heart is only halfway into it, as it's his life and money, and I won't love him differently either way. Pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream.

The abiding interest in Socrates, even as a little boy, how his name danced on the tongue like a hot little tri-syllabic knife. We do not die and believing otherwise is a cognitive error that's stubborn as a fucking rooster. Talking for a few minutes with a stranger heading to the river, rod in hand, remembering all the fish I killed over the years, and choking back my "good luck," praying silently after that as nice a man as he was, the fish confound and deprive him.

What do dead kings say when they meet at the bottom of the ocean? The moon is before me, the color of the peonies whose yearly blooming feels closer to murder than not. Wordiness goes farther than sight, every single time.

How she tilts her head coming, eyes squeezed shut. On the wall of the hay loft where I write are half a dozen rosaries and handmade necklaces. Place a small rock beneath your tongue and watch stars flicker in the early absence of light in November: I will join you in ways that are mysterious and intimate, better than sex, finer than prayer, and darker than the interior of that stone in your mouth.

We talk about mood swings and all the while I keep remembering that pendulum I saw in some Washington D.C. museum some woman insisted swung only because the earth was turning, and I longed more than anything to hold it - make it still - and let it rest, i.e., projecting even then. Carrying my grandmothers with me, trying to get past doom in a way they insist - when they visit - is possible.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Threading a Fine Needle

And in the end, did you actually gain a prism? Morning skies in November, mist blurring the jagged line of hills to the north. One is lost when one is looking at a map - there is nothing else to say.

Lambs at dawn. Cardinals sharing a hemlock limb, an image I offer to those for whom such images are helpful. Foxes pass through the pasture, looking neither left nor right.

Walking through the village around ten p.m., tired and bothered by family haunts, letting what will slough off slough off, and noticing all the televisions in all the houses, all set to different channels. Michael was right all along it turns out. Folding flannel sheets, carrying them upstairs, setting them on the bed for later.

Misunderstanding communion. Falling asleep on the couch, waking to find the house shadowed and quiet, a couple of cats resting beside me. The hinge where one's thigh becomes something intimate, soulful.

Let us now give thanks in the way we have learned to give thanks! Kneeling to scrub the floorboards, scent of vinegar rising, reminding me of something difficult from childhood. Threading a fine needle for the Lord, indeed.

Mindfulness. Like a resurrected zombie I stumble out of the wasp's nest and cry out in praise to the one who raises all the dead from their slumber. The river where it turns, the harvested cornfield beyond.

Or else what, was the question I was never able to get to, as they could never stop with the threat, but always had to follow through immediately. How soft and quiet the back yard is in the morning before anyone is awake, just me and the horses reminding one another we're still here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Beautiful Loneliness of Burlington, Vermont

Dumping coffee grounds in the compost. One is grateful for fires, and the gift of knowing how to make them. What is the horizon but our shared ecstasy at realizing at last there are no limits? 

Venus floats perfectly silent in darkness above the village church, inviting me to rethink my obsession with family demon dance parties. Christmas cactus on the shelf above the sink blooming in a modest way, unlike both my grandmothers. Whatever you insist upon will become the fulcrum on which your prayer for salvation balances.

Water boiling for tea, the kettle rattling a little as people enter the kitchen, the day at last a collective beginning. Reinvigorated rosary prayers. Descendents of the chickens I have killed to eat do not plot against me.

Once again waking up in an Irish dolmen. My body grew foreign and what was living declined to be contained by, limited by it, and I was frightened but also happy to have found at last the narrow path. Shall we kneel to peer through the keyhole?

Tiny pumpkins, mole-gnawed potatoes. Jeremiah makes savory oatmeal with sausage, only grunting when asked what spices he's using. Rain falls, turns to snow, and I remember again the beautiful loneliness of Burlington, Vermont.

Never hasten to "amen!" Driving west an hour or so after dawn, mistaking fallen leaves blowing across the highway for small animals in need of attention. Dried apples and blueberries and other signifiers of the end of hardship.

We shuffle on and eventually up, even off the windswept mountain. Those stars promising us we have been here before. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

We are Happy Lingering

Writing under cosmos hung to dry in the kitchen, the sentences slow but fluid, like Bronson Brook in the middle of summer. We are all antiques.

Certain books - A Course in Miracles, Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, John's Gospel - so full of book marks it makes you rethink reading altogether. Women with whom we are happy lingering, talking about nothing in particular as night falls around us.

Tiny ferns near the back porch stairs encased in frost, lovely in a paleolithic way. The many ways in which our minds receive and offer Venus.

She undresses near the door, gazing at me in a way that means I cannot take my eyes off her eyes, each article of clothing folded and set on the dresser, the moments extending into a single unified infinity, her nakedness entirely peripheral to the power of the shared gaze on which she insists - which she creates - and in which I realize at last and with utter clarity that we are none of us bodies. Pan-fried trout at dusk and other old joys.

Half a dozen Macintosh apples in a wooden bowl on the counter, reminding me that in a past life I painted watercolor still lifes, and made a decent living until a late affair with a neighbor taught me that life is not actually still. Invisible angels pray at the lake, their voices a low melodic hum you have always wanted to hear. 

Flu shot season. Cold brown rice with half a dozen dolmathes for lunch.

We drive into Northampton talking about family, holidays, cannabis and money. The afternoon passes roasting a turkey which, when finished, I am uninterested in actually eating.

That juncture where you realize no form will ever truly satisfy - will never bring you the peace and creative freedom for which you long - and the humility and willingness that become you then. Both horses whinnying at dusk.

Chiseling ice off the windshield, waiting for Chrisoula to uncover the kale so we can drive to the transfer station. The way that we forge relationships never changes, and in this is a clue to what we are in truth.

And how after - when she had fallen to sleep - my body grew still and rock-like, exactly as my father's had in death - and I saw the way it was merely an aperture through which living passed, perfectly beautifully neutral. You tell the mushrooms you're done, it's over, no more, and the mushrooms form an interior chorus somewhere near the center of your right shoulder and gently sing their well-known hymn We'll Be The Judge Of That.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Women Who Tell Stories

Imagine green dragons in soaring flight over Ireland - near the coasts I imagine - and the women who tell stories about them. 

Morning breathing, silver and cloud-like, coils of steam unfurling in November cold.

A future of which I am afraid.

The dialogue extends to how we are - and are not - extending Catholic Worker values in our living and whether thinking this way is helpful with respect to undoing our reliance on the oppressor.

You are not your zip code.

Soft lights on the horizon at mid-morning, oddly reminiscent of Florida coral, confusing my sense of latitude. 


A sort of spiritual agility.

Men who look up when they talk - at the sky, nearby buildings, tops of trees, the moon cresting the far hills - anywhere to avoid meeting your eyes. 

Oh you bet I remember Milkshake candy bars.

That phase of living which requires walking in the dark further and further, shedding something, becoming lighter in a literal - a seeing-in-the-dark - kind of way.

When I drew disembodied figures in the margins of meeting notes, what was I seeing, what was I trying to bring forth?

Bear tracks in the first snow on the south-facing hill.

Echoes in the town hall setting up for mass and town meeting. 

There is now a longing to return to church, to experience again the beautiful confusion of a brokered holiness - the sacraments, the rituals, the vestements and the light in those glorious windows.

A deference to blue which one takes increasingly seriously as they age. 

Here was supposed to be a long sentence including the phrase "songs about trains" but it did not come together in the way I had hoped, so this will have to do. 

Cauliflower florets fried to a crisp, drenched with bbq sauce, and then we all eat them standing, pretending they're chicken wings.

Tell me: what in your mind most resembles a recipe and have you actually followed it?

The meaning of one or two Latin terms, indeed.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Once Upon a Time You Wondered

Snow appears - high in the gray clouds over the flattened landscape - and I do not recognize my children.

Photos my mother cherishes, others that disappear, which she denies disappearing.

Bright red leaves on the neighbor's bushes across Main Street, intimating divine outreach, as if the angels were giving up on symbolism and just being plants. 

Patterns on highways, patterns in grass at the park where in morning I jog, muttering to myself about what went wrong in childhood.

Dangling modifers indeed.

Wind in the hemlocks, loosening tiny cones. 

I remember resting in tall grass. The lake spreading blue depths away from the cliff. What is utter.

What is lost, what is found. What does it mean to ask questions in writing, not because you want an answer but only to remember that once upon a time you wondered.

Decorative crucifixes made by hand in Jerusalem by old women for whom money is not the point. 

Wishing again. Following salmon downstream again.

Jeremiah pan fries the trout over an open fire - lots of onions and slivered potatoes - singing Tom Petty songs, his breath in the air a silver cloud I would make into jewelry and wear unto my grave, were such a thing possible.

Confusion again. The interior passages are untraveled mostly, yet this new lamp I am given makes a new journey possible. One is riddled - literally - with a desire for desires.

How I pleaded not to be hit and was hit anyway, over and over and over. Gifts that in the shadows look like something else.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

To Be Overlooked

There is a purple light this dusk, as if one were hiding in the pocket of a good king.

Lessons my mother taught that she would like to take back but cannot. Mountains I have not climbed and may never, and yet.

Slicing swiss chard to saute with white beans slow-cooked all day, to be added to onions and garlic themselves sauteed with with ham ends from the day before. 

We are never where we believe we are, nor headed in any direction other than the one that is so obvious as to be overlooked.

Yellow leaves on Sunday falling so prettily you could believe that we are actually meant to be happy.

Family demon dance party behind the barn at 1 a.m. or so, me without a jacket in November cold, turning in thin moonlight with my arms open, feeling the proximity of Christ among all the other dangers.

Being on the mountain and hearing voices.

Praying quietly at 4 a.m. in the hay loft, listening to rats scratch in the woodwork, welcoming them as best as one is able.

Going back to Maturana and Varela, remembering the feeling then of being so happy reading them, and then later in Cambridge being gently reminded that study as such was no longer required, a letting go I still struggle to let go.

In many ways mind is similar to a body of water. What did those early travelers think of the stars? Gods with whom we are no longer in dialogue. 

Hand-carved sea birds secured by threads to rough-hewn rafters overhead. It's not a poem so much as a cry in the void, offered by one who knows the value of being heard.

Those who come close, almost dangerously so, and those who - from a distance - broker some essential insights. The mountain is both inside you and in southern Vermont. 

Terrible dreams now. Running in darkness past the river, arguing with a murderer I know too well.

Fine, fuck it, do it, throw it into the sea, see if I care, et cetera.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Into a Soft Torus

Living in the fallen world, surrounded by angels.

At dawn the clouds gather into a soft torus and undulate above hills on the far side of which Emily Dickinson lived and wrote.

Mourning doves on rafters in the lumber yard's barn.

What if your Mom was a lightning bolt and every time she visited the world lit up electric and purple?

I roamed the earth until utterly scarred and ruined by lovelessness I could only crawl in circles in the dirt and whisper secrets to crickets.

Who interferes?

Who emphasizes littleness?

Chrisoula falls asleep after, holding my arm across her chest, and I lay there quietly, wide awake and thanking God. 

A dream in my early twenties of all the stars in the sky gathering into a three-masted square-rigged ship which I would one day board in lieu of dying.

The good news is not that Jesus is risen but that you may yet remember and live by the law of love.

A history of beekeeping intersecting with our perception of joy and peace.

Oh I am feeling the sweet prayer vibe now!

In the shadow of the barn, blue frost, half-remembered moonlight.

She said that if anything changed, she'd let me know and I never heard from her again: articles of faith. 

Secrets cats keep.

Driving the long way back from work in order to catch a glimpse of Greylock on the horizon, something wild in me surfacing at the sight of it.

A brief interval of homelessness in my early twenties that declines to be forgotten, as if I were in the proximity of a certain witch.

But how do we know that mirrors don't work without access to light (and is there ever such a thing as no light (and how do we see darkness))?

Reading Frank O'Hara poems on a bus to Vermont, now and then closing the book on a finger to hold my place (and gazing out the window at the shifting landscape), working out my own poems, loving even then the ability to efface oneself with words. 

Stunted juniper bushes just off the trail begging a visit, which I cheerfully grant, being more interested in healing cursed fig trees than in the assholes that curse them.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

In Love or into Error

Sunlight, the barn accordingly. Did you fall in love or into error?

Dust on the window sill, marred by overlapping circles where a coffee cup is set. What is salvation again?

You can read anything into this sentence and basically just did. Promises that went unkept in order to keep other promises: it happens that way sometimes.

Leaning our rifles against a hemlock, leaning ourselves against two other hemlocks, and sharing a thermos of instant coffee: deer hunting in a heart that does not want to kill any deer. Loving dancing.

Driving at dusk through Vermont towns whose names I forget, all those years ago, mistaking anticipation for happiness. Fine dust on the mantel in which a single cat's foot appears.

Early November a kind of red I long missed. We wrestle with monsters of our own making, and our wrestling is the making.

A week now looking at the moon thinking "wait - is it monosyllabic?" Drums stacked in the corner, guitars lined up unplayed.

Who in the end is worthy of this love? I wait a long time in the presence of crucifixes and rosaries for peace and peace always comes, always. 

Not "back" to Sartre so much as reviewing what one always suspected. Too often we consent to the other's projection, live out our life in a kind of bland drama.

Driving a certain way to see a certain mountain, wondering which if any of my kids will acquire this particular habit of travel. Stop insisting transgression is bad, see it instead as a form of creativity?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Zoos and Ice Cream

Hard rains. Hard passes. Dodecahedrons. Derrida on gazes, O'Hara on zoos and ice cream. There is a connection - there is always a connection - and yet we insist on not seeing it. How as a child I despised Hide and Seek and Tag. Editions of Treasure Island lost now, yet in memory bright blue - the cover somehow greater than the text (the image transcending the extended narrative impulse). Something scratches in the darkness, as if pushing against the wall, and I listen with a gentleness that was missing from own childhood. Cheating, lying, stealing. The forest falls away from me, replaced by a desert through which enormous butterflies with scarlet wings drift, inquiring in soft whispers do I know them, do I want to. A rainbow is a form of sunlight, sunlight is a form of energy. Into which sentence shall I place the word "love." What about not? My hands meet on her back when we hug, this woman who is basically an olive tree or a warm breeze that smells of olives, or the dry hill on which the trees grow, redolent and strong in ancient light.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Even the Dove

Splitting wood. Wondering did early Buddhists sing. Raking leaves as the dusk grows heavier, mind emptying of even the dove customarily sent forth. Ages pass, bridges pass. Mist on the mountain, floating slowly south towards the river. The bridal chamber is empty, save for two cigarette butts half-hidden by a gray quilt and a coffee cup with stains indicating two mouths sipped from it. Loneliness gets you. We all need a detective from time to time. One lingers in the morning at the barn - not rushing to ferry hay to the horses - listening to the chickadees reminding the world of a great love. What is this ongoing emphasis on correction? It begins to rain again and so I leave the quiet light of the apple trees and go inside to try again to pray in the way I am asked to pray. Om shanti om shanti om shanti. Something something something. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Miracles Appear as an Interim

Against nearly black storm clouds a single gull turns gracefully in hard winds, its body pure white, so of course I mistake it for an angel.

Dozens of flags rippling in the same wind, currents that are somehow reminiscent of melodies.

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems because acceptance is a form of love suitable to my current ideas about suffering.

And time passes, or seems to, and the Holy Instant of A Course in Miracles appears as an interim, a brief reminder, a stay against the horse tides of fear.

What happened when in high school I discovered the poems - not the songs but the poems - of Jim Morrison.

Ways in which loss appears permanent, not as a feature of living but as the condition of living itself.

Stars sailing through the sky half an hour before the rain begins.

Going outside to piss on the little garden by the back stairs, the dead stalks of tiger lilies and the already-rotting maple leaves bunched around their base.

At what point - both in time and place - do we enter the earth?

Before the wedding we placed two ceramic turtles in the church - secretly, telling nobody - going back later to gather them, certain we had done something pleasing unto the Lord, about whom we were both about to enter into separate decades-long and painful relationships.

At last I am able to face the silence - which is a form of order, which is a form of love, all I am able at this juncture to manage - to which I am called and - at least to this juncture - unable to accept. 

How I am in love with forests, especially as they intersect with rivers and streams, the soft slope of hills and the tidal excitation of mountains.

A distance at which differentiation - male or female, for example - becomes obvious, less obvious, et cetera.

What it takes for us to say "I am what I am" without rancor or drama, as gentle as snow falling on pine trees on a planet which nobody has visited.

Fifteen blackbirds baked in a pie.

The silver splash each drop of rain makes upon reaching the pavement, prisms dissipating without remembering light.

Living now the struggle - the interior quagmire, the darkening swale - of wishing to bring only joy to one's enemies.

We are confused who insist on echoes.

In a field are seven hemlock trees, beneath which deer graze, and beyond which a narrow seam of forest knits earth to sky, calling it a horizon.

Was alone once, am not now.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Full of What Must Die

I wake up earlier than usual, dress and walk up Main Street to Plainfield Road, going where it is darkest. Chapels abound, a lesson I forgot and remembered with considerable effort. Running into your therapist years later, both of you happy, keeping it simple and inside bounds that seem to be to be transgressed. A thing for gamblers’ daughters in my early twenties, a theme that helped me organize my ongoing living in relationship.

Rain begins a little after midnight. It’s true the moon is only there when you look at it but why does this matter? We who are exhausted by clowns, doctors and poets. Funerals at the nearby church, people parking everywhere.

It was raining when we left the theatre – that tiny basement on Pleasant Street, now gone, in which we watched Little Buddha with seven other souls – and Chrisoula hummed Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head, happy and clear, carrying me along to the next step our lives together made possible. Letting thoughts come and go, easiest thing in the world. Dead goldenrod leaning into the road where we walk, a hushing sound as we brush it passing, a sorrow somewhere that we have not yet reckoned with.

Remember reading Moby Dick for the first time, remembering reading The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Strangers at whom we smile, strangers in whose presence we feel an almost unbearable happiness. This is not an argument!

Certain men, certain ways. That which ends up other than you expect. I guess I’ll go the way of circumstance, same as when I was twenty-three and couldn’t stop smiling, unsure what else was called for. Denise if you are reading this say hi.

That half-finished house on Route Nine I hear the mortgage fell through on, its roof beams oddly beautiful – symmetrical, linear – in the dawn when I drive past, slowing to admire what can only be defined as a failure. Owls signaling unto darkness their intention to hunt, then sailing forth in waning moonlight, the landscape surrounding them vast and full of what must die so others can live.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Faint Traces of Paisley

Rain making distant mountains harder to see. So this is the new country. I run harder than I expect or intend, anger in my chest at imaginary grievances involving law enforcement, as if certain errors had gone further sideways than they did. My cousin is tired of waiting and I cannot explain he doesn't need to - I'm okay, not ready, et cetera - but there he is, loyal and bored, altogether familial. Flocks of grackles diving and swooping in distant skies leaving faint traces of paisley in mind. Would you dissolve if you could like salt sprinkled in water. When you talk I cannot help but listen, and when I listen to you talk something inside me expands, opens, gives welcome, and I am tired of using any other word but love to explain this. Chrisoula texts a grocery list, including code I haven't seen in years. Word for word. Pumpkins and gourds line the front porch, left out until they begin to decay, and then we toss them into the compost out back. What is picked at, nibbled on. Inside the crow's cry was another crow, silent and attentive. There is, you see, a space beyond death, and it is where we all live. Grinding wheat, grinding cannabis buds, grinding hips kissing, all of it intensifying, bringing about time in which we are lost. I chose a certain flower as a child and half a century later my father died, worrying had he forgotten anything. How the light changes here so often. How it takes so little to be happy in the end.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Every Time We Reach a Door

Bent cattails encased in frost. Why do you say the things you say? 

I remember walking the dog at four a.m. in Worthington ten years ago, new to A Course in Miracles, and falling to my knees beneath rioting stars, aware that I was mistaking my confusion about God for God. Our bodies make a warm tent of the blankets in which we touch and kiss, gentle and kind in a late and dangerous state of world.

Dusk in the city, headlights sparkling, dangerously pretty. Train tracks tapering off in grass shy of empty warehouses.

Culling old email addresses. Bold moves in the social sphere promptly rewarded. 

In early November one's thoughts turn to Advent, and Advent-related essays largely unshared. I am here to feed you, and if you are not hungry, then I am here to consent to being fed by you.

Jogging up Main Street a little after five a.m., roosters howling behind houses on the east side, stars fading in the pantheonic heavens. The form always fails but content rolls on forever.

Shall we be lovers then? One grows quieter at funerals, knowing intuitively what loss is and the viability of ritual to assuage it.

We who are not our father but to whom fathers appear in dreams both waking and sleeping, asking questions and posing answers, and generally asking for the welcome they denied themselves while living. Plans for the coming lunar eclipse, remembering our first together.

Lawyer-speak. Every time we reach a door we struggle a little with who holds it open, who walks through, who goes last, et cetera.

Demons are simply stunted angels in need of light and sustenance, which I am no longer afraid to provide. In the distance - scratching frosty grass - wild turkeys, a happiness I am happy to relay in words.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Hiding in Your Fear

Early images of Jesus feeding the pond in my heart in which he appears and reappears as lilies, salmon, eddies and rippling sunlight. A shift away from familiar prayers.

People want to be forgiven, which is to say given welcome, which is to say, seen as equals by those they see as equals. Quarter moon as always its own poetry and yet here I am, writing.

Study the periphery, bring what blurs into focus, find out what's hiding in your fear of being bored. A dozen bookmarks in Ascent to the Depth of the Heart.

Driving slowly west into a city for which I have no real narratives, only a handful of fragments and images. Stopping on our walks to give attention to this or that chunk of rock or fallen leaf, Chrisoula waiting patiently, looking at the sky.

Who dreams? Morning coffee while wrapped in one of the soft blankets my mother gave us years ago.

Allowing Christ to be what Christ longs to be for us, which is to accept the gift that is given, not the one we insist - subtly or otherwise - on getting. Certain sorrows that can only be approached with the phrase "blind horse." 

All texts are reconstructed in the moment they are read - why is this controversial? With what eyes do we see and are there other ways of seeing we are not yet seeing?  

Bittersweet thickens climbing the dead hemlock. A softness for Catholic churches when driving or walking past them that apparently does not abate, no matter how clear my reasons for leaving.

When our minds open - when the heart opens - it no longer matters what caused the opening, because the opening reverses our traditional understanding of cause and effect. Getting to her letter days after receiving it.

The rosary I carry slips from my pocket and everybody grows solemn and quiet while I gather it up. I'll be your baby tonight, indeed. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Always Perfectly

The suggestion is that we "give attention." 

Christmas lights in the hay loft, a mirror ball dangling from its rafters, all reflected in glass bottles and crystals.

What makes you happy.

What happens when we deliberately accept the division of subject and object, observer and observed? 

The neighbors bury miscarried fetuses in the little orchard abutting our property, marked first by candles which burn through the night, and then by small stone angels.

Definitions matter less than you think, same with explanations.

Driving through eastern Massachusetts to visit extended family, always a sense of trespassing on something alien and unwelcome.

Thank Christ for good therapists.

Writing in the morning waiting for Jack - the blind horse - to whinny for a flake of hay. 

For example, one might give attention to the way the mountains look as the sun appears, or how dogs convey their joy in play. 

Cold feet. 

The form of the lesson shifts, but learning continues. 

"Stained with regret."

Ron Atkinson's work in the early seventies in Worthington so profoundly influential it is hard at times to breathe, thinking of him. 

The gravestones of the poor, who are the only innocence, the only altar that matters.

Without fail, according to no plan, and yet always perfectly. 

The flower - like the lake, like the star, like the bird's wing - always points towards Life itself, towards Love itself. 

I too am nobody but Emily you are not nobody. 

Sprigs of dried lilac. 

Playing Greensleeves on Jeremiah's guitar, a little before midnight, the music easy and familiar, beautiful in ways that are easy to miss, like sex with a woman you have known a long time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Weeping in the Dark Hours

Moonlit heart, chapped lips. We make coffee at home to take with us, being that couple, and this our way of coupling with the world. There are many chalices. Cardinals on the fence between the neighbors, knowing them by song. Rosaries hanging on bedposts, something else Dad and I have in common. How touching after becomes the sine qua non of love, how the late age holds us knowingly. The neighbor's haircut up close. I don't know, what do you write about? A studied absence of references to Islam, despite the emphasis on "Abrahamic monotheism." And the sky at certain hours of the day, and the smell of the air at dawn on a day when snow is coming, and how it felt once upon a time to wait on the mail. One grows tired of their anger and impatience and falls weeping in the dark hours, exhausted with the burden of selfhood. Familiar art, familiar joy. Almost always a river would help and does.

Monday, November 8, 2021

A Lot of What was Lost

I remember low tide and a lot of what was lost. Dogs gaze at me from a cluster of warm shadows, waiting. Things we can do now include replace old mattresses and put lights in the back stairwell. "You have to understand negotiation as a shared quest for the divine center." Puzzled as always by the existence of eastern Massachusetts. As Christians we are bound to a kind of service unto our brothers and sisters, a love so radical that formal ritual and devoted community are necessary to attain it. Stacking wood in a way that buttresses wind-blown fences. Shall we make it another winter? Distance was always the fertile home of imagination, those pastures and hills meant I was bound to become a dreamer. Masturbation is a form of colonization or am I overthinking it again? The Connecticut River is haunted, everyone who's ever canoed on it at night knows this. What I am asking is, what do you want to create together? 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Some Kind of Prayer or Incantation

I was nearly fatally lost in Monet but was found and lifted in Max Ernst, a roundabout gift from a now-dead, listless-at-the-bottom-of-the-sea, cousin. 

Drinking whiskey from the bottle.

Life with sub-agents. Frost flowers on the windows now when the sun rises. There are no mirrors in certain houses.

Taking Dad's old clothes to the Catholic church two towns over - their Fall free-for-all, people coming from cities hours away - I find an acorn in a jacket pocket.

I forget certain names now, wander the backroads happy in what can only be described as non-specific ways. 

It was the sincerity in her art that moved me most, ever trumping the apparent quality or lack thereof, a sign early on that I was given to love and not skill. Hot coffee in mid-November after chores, that happiness, like that.

And now everything changes, yet again.

I go out to see the night sky near midnight, wrap up in a blanket in the only chair still out back, muttering and giggling near the curious horses, reflecting back the happiness I cannot help but believe stars feel when my gaze at long last reaches them. 

Six p.m. and I can hear the river. Two crows.

Medusa is a female fantasy.

Never going back to Greece I don't think. 

Chrisoula asks if I'll drive to Huntington with her, no reason in particular, just a run to the only feed store in western Mass with the grain Jack likes, saying we can stop for coffee at that little store on the corner if it's open on Sundays and I say you had me at coffee which makes us laugh, that marriage.

The architecture of female genitalia and its lovely Latin nomenclature, revealed decades ago in who-knows-what-book, but I was only five or six, walking around whispering "labia minora" over and over like some kind of prayer or incantation. 

Who is the best painter of dinosaurs?

As through a keyhole, a slit.

As mist rises off the lake as we lean into each other, coupled in Her gaze. 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Heart is the Hearth of the Body

Aristotle said the heart is the hearth of the body. Nobody is listening is never true because you are always listening! What we refuse to take slowly. Writing in the hayloft, disappointing Socrates, oh well. I am trying to say something but why. Childhood as a site of learning both self-defense and the value of a good offense, and also how to take it because of who gives it. A nexus between memory and language, memory and being. Pausing in the parking lot to look at stars, remind myself they're in motion too. A sound the grass makes beneath my feet when the frost has thickened. Roosters. The revolution is ongoing, is what nobody tells you. Remember the radio? I lost a lot of me on the shores of Lake Champlain - mostly playing music, talking around fires, making love away from the fire, coming back hand-in-hand, drunk and high, all of that. You want Jesus but Jesus wants you to want something that is lovelier and more basic. Windy nights, early snow. In Her arms, ascending.

Friday, November 5, 2021

A Song that Remains Familiar

How there is light at the tops of the trees first in the morning, when everything else is shadowed. How there is all this. 

How when my heart beats faster and my body grows dull there is still a clear path. How the dead come out of the mist shyly, holding dandelions and knitting needles.

How there is all this, and how all this falls into itself, like light into a mirror. The horizon and what is beyond it.

How there is a song that remains familiar even as everything around us changes and gives up on itself. How there is no such thing as an interruption.

How a thought is like lightning and like hours of rain, both. The river curving by the old dairy farm, the willows leaning over it, as if sheltering the ghosts of cows.

How the heart has no bottom, only a journey coming to a close. Crayon angels.

How in earlier times they taped feet to the floor to show us the right dance moves, and how I could not find my way even then, for her hands were so soft in mine, and the idea that one could live this way, in this proximity to beauty and the Lord, was more joy than could be accepted. How there is yes, and yes, and yes.

Smoking cigarettes in Dublin on Bloomsday, 1989, that register of tired that doesn't even sleep. Roses for sale, lilies for sale.

How not everything can be photographed. How the mind creates itself out of love for itself, and how it is possible to know this, and to become this endless creation.

The stream of the Milky Way is our home as well. How it is known: that which longs to be known.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Great Seam of the Lord

And begin.

Yogurt dressings with salad, late in the season, mixed with cilantro and basil and other dried herbs.

Roses falling over, the vase brushed by a cat, the cat basically indifferent.

Dried cosmos in juice glasses on the highest shelf above the sink.

We talk about Vermont, going back there now, is it too late and is there a way, and I say because I have learned it is true "there is always a way."

Shortcomings, shortbread, shorthand, short shorts.  

My mother cries describing the light the other day, how she misses my father, even so many years later, and how she doesn't understand beauty but this was beautiful, this was "something else."

New glasses, new look - get it?

Fried potato skins and leftover black coffee, listening to her teach about a consent that reaches beyond yes/no to the power dynamic itself - the river itself - the great seam of the Lord opening in welcome and acceptance.

Deer in the far fields a little after dawn.

My heart with you is a holiday.

The only elegance I can manage is grief, the only joy the joy of not being defeated by loss, which together are a form of suffering, which is not God's Will, which nobody made clear to me until last August. 

A lemony sweetness filtering through the barn stairwell, cannabis smoke dissipating, the last duck softly clucking. 

And together we are a season of light.

Jeremiah's recently-purchased painting of eggs over easy with three strips of bacon arrives and we prop it up on the counter, studying the kitchen for where it goes best.

Running water.

Scattering lime over the kitchen compost then using the flathead shovel to scatter the compost in the fenced-in bin I made back in June when the world was different. 

What lingers and what does not.

Long talks first, then longer silences, and then the greater deepening.

Oh all praise and glory to Her, whose namelessness is our bond.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

I Have Not Yet Met Christ

All night in dreams I realize that I have not yet met Christ save intellectually and psychologically and must but how. Chrisoula touches my shoulder, we argue a little, fall silent, and sleep. Slowly mountains appear, slowly the hemlocks, slowly a world of grief. The last of the garden harvest studded with dirt, geese uttering their low reminder of winter. What is left? Cats lick condensation off the bedroom window, Jeremiah mutters to himself going up the hall, and a sense one has that the real work has only just begun begins. Julie Andrews in Peter Pan, later singing Christmas Carols, much like Johnny Matthis a symbol of elegance that my mother - like her mother before her - coveted. Me too indeed. We are little cygnets in a snow storm, we are parentless and adrift. Is love for anything else? I was promised hardship, I was promised suffering and somebody somewhere delivered. Now what?

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Before the Wedding but After the Marriage

Slower and slower under rainy pines. 

Sad pumpkin faces shading half-burnt candles. Maple leaves pasted to the hardtop. Are we, in fact, illusory?

At night the river sings its familiar song, the blind horse stamping now and then, as if to keep time.

And stars that are visible and stars that are not nor ever will be.

Old keys that open no door. Structuring the writing by sentences, rather than by syllables, as for two difficult years I did structure it, a project that to this day echoes and reechoes in my skull.

Back when I climbed mountains at least four days a week.

Brave crickets. Chicken feet in the side yard, ghostly in rainy moonlight. But wait!

My mother's voice as she navigates this new form of grief. Letting go of dog graves.

Clear views of the Lord abide. What we leave as we go along the way, becoming lighter and lighter, not noticing we are floating, are among stars, did not ever "live" and so can never "die."

The lilacs, the hemlocks. Circles in which we are gently recollected.


Pancakes and bacon sizzling on cast-iron pans Chrisoula and I bought before the wedding but after the marriage.

Monday, November 1, 2021

A Solitude that was Waiting for Us

High up in starlight lie concentric circles inviting us to an expanded understanding of travel. I mean, maple leaves fall through the afternoon, and cardinals pass back and forth through the yards comprising the neighborhood. If giving attention matters, upon whose law does the mattering rest?

She reappears in late fall, approximately fifteen months after my study began, taking the form of a Greek woman who does fear any austerity. What is a number? I drive slower on the off-ramp, gazing north at faint mountains I know are named Vermont.

Pure essence of being obfuscated - polluted even - by writing it out. Socrates was basically correct, presenting me therefore with a terrifying - a forbidden even - austerity. Geese pass, their deep cries in the dusk what I imagine having a blood brother would be like.

Baked beans. Stephanie invites us to a weekend afternoon cider press gathering but we pass, entering now a solitude that was waiting for us in the basement of the church at the wedding but which we forgot or ignored. Pictures of winter sunsets in cheap frames, nonetheless loved.

Slowly I accept the Greek insights, knowing her as my teacher from long ago, come once again to complete at last my training. Waking before it is light, drinking coffee in the dark, talking to myself in a way that resembles but is not in actual fact a prayer. There is no beginning and no end, only this extension of love which is ongoing.

Whales rise in moonlight to take their place with stars. I lay my tongue on the center as directed, press down, awaiting further instructions. Who doesn't love blue.

Quarter moon blurred by rain. Passing between shades, singing ancient songs.