Monday, January 31, 2022

Established by Luminous Chakras

Cold winter mornings. In the darkness touch is different, trails appear that only our fingers can follow. Many days of snow and rain pass and the moon appears, a slivered hook dragging the heavens. Subtlety helps, sure, but not only subtlety. 

Devin argues that you can't imagine the size of the cosmos - that "size" isn't even really a relevant term in this context - and he's not wrong but also, who knows. Frozen hoses. I think often of the ones who figured out that stars were reliable guides. Suddenly all this Tarot.

A juncture at which asking how and why becomes viable in sustainable non-dramatic ways. The Rons of my childhood ascend in importance or rather, my recognition of their importance stops hiding itself. Hurrying so the coffee won't grow cold. If you have to ask, then yes - you are complicit. 

The heaters crackle and murmur all night, the house creaking in sudden cold. Is this where it ends? The mirror suggests at least two realities but is silent with respect to choosing between them. It never hurts to read William James again. Checking on the horses just because.

Pictures of the place from when we bought it. Those who dance on planes established by luminous chakras. Even the lie is a witness unto Truth. I was never more lost than now, each step a measure of the joy I feel in Her care.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

What it Cost Me and Why I Paid

Tom mentions seeing a fox, says "better button up the chickens," which makes me laugh. Starlight in winter, impossible to capture, yet my whole life has been given to trying. There is no such thing as the right word is a way to write poetry. Theories about why this ice storm was not the same as the one in 2008 used as a means to overcome shyness in social settings. At five a.m. in the dark certain lovelinesses appear - diamantine, harmonious, clear - and one is lifted accordingly. Church is this if church is anything? Apparently the end of conflict is closer than I realized. One works through the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus and realizes they are talking about their own self which, duh. Setting traps finally, and checking traps, and also escaping traps. We salvage what we can with respect to the squash, finish the cabbages, we order seeds and starts. Stephanie brings cider by and we drink it in the fancy thumbprint goblets I find so wonderfully emblematic of my truth. You set up this or that parameter and it works until you find yourself longing to go down on her and suddenly you'd make orphans of the children, burn the fields, salt the ruins. Fionnghuala and I argue about God in front of family and friends and after everyone is like, wow, she's smarter than you are, which is true, but days later Chrisoula says quietly, "thank you," knowing what it cost me and why I paid, and I am David then, and then I am David's Son happily married, raising kids. Opening the barn door in coldest January. Letting go of the reins. Rising.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

That Moment in the Dance When Your Body Falls

You must answer this two-part question: what is love and how do you know?

Snow falling on hemlocks, a cardinal in the hemlocks.

We grow tender and slow over here: grandmothers indicate this is the way now.

A sudden panic in the community: all winter squashes going bad no matter how they are put up. 

Horse tracks in snow.

In the night - in utter stillness - I extend my tongue and gently trace the outline of the only pussy I know by heart. 

We insist on form which leads to loss which leads to war (by circuitous psychological routes I do not need to make clear to you because you already know them).

Do you know that moment in the dance when your body falls out of the song - when there is no next move, when the rhythm is measured in notes that extend beyond time?

One dream pushes into another, as when the witch led me deep into the earth's belly and in the darkness there I found the seed from which all light is born.

Disarray is not the law, which can alleviate some of the stress around resisting or instigating change.

Holes in the wall made by angry men. 

This is what you want, this is what you get.

For the life of me I cannot say what Denise thought or felt removing that shirt and letting it fall, though I know in those days she liked being in my poems and found my obsession with the divinity of the image amusing. 

Lingering in Ireland, as one does.

Snow lines the limbs of dying hemlocks and for a moment the heart in me stops and a darkness opens of which I am not terrified.

I remember looking at their hoods and nooses in a D.C. museum and wondering not for the last time what the fuck was wrong with me.

Jaded, ended.

He said to me once he wasn't going to lie - that what he was going to do was going to hurt and I was going to take it because he was the one giving it - and it was true.

Roseate light on winter mornings, this perfect love. 

We cried a lot, hid our tears a lot, slept with the wrong people, got lost and kept going, shoeless and empty-handed, and Christ would it be okay I sit with you a while and talk?

Friday, January 28, 2022

This Riptide of a Life

The one who sweeps up after elephants. Who made us the center of the universe, hellbent on understanding? The radiator creaks a little, you draw the blanket tighter. Snow falls as if always.

A lot blurs when something becomes acute - a sense of loss, a deep love, the moment before coming - and this is neither a mystery nor a problem. The neighbors bring a dozen quarts of cider by, two pints of peach wine, and a drawing of raccoons their little one did. "Let us pray" is a sweet invitation, but the space it evokes has a wildness to it few are able to manage. Living alone at a late age.

Christy Moore songs. Make a list of everything you've stolen in this life, be radically honest in doing so. The light these mornings in the glass bluebirds I've collected and been gifted over the years. Shanna Dobson's diamonds waking me in the night.

It helps to remember that remembering is natural, not a crime against God or Nature. Watching folks spread butter on toast - anything really, jam, jelly, peanut butter - and seeing the whole cosmos in the lovely dance of matter and intention. Lying in bed, my cock hard and smooth to touch, "hot marble" I think, "I should put that in a poem," and then laugh quietly, the spell broken. A network of shadows on which the dead are suspended when they visit to relay their helpful missives.

At last the old jeans can no longer be patched and are cannibalized for what still can be. Detailed notes for what should happen after our death are not the answer either. After months away from the familiar text, I open it again, leaning into the devotion that has been so vexing in this riptide of a life. The moon blurred by snow clouds at midnight, a loveliness I would give up my wings to taste.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Into a Marble Sea

There are invitations we cannot refuse - can we say they are still invitations? Clouds passing over the face of the mountain. Gaps in the conversation that no longer trouble us the way they once did. Making the bed after, listening to her make tea, remembering our first date in the little arthouse theater in Northampton. Plastic zombies intrude on our attempts to build a new church. Was it always like this?

Dylan's Disease of Conceit. Everything revolves around bodies of water, there is no other way to live. Reading Bly late at night by an open window, a woman whose name I've forgotten sleeping an arm's length away. 

Those who are no longer interested in the past.

Severity of the Catholic influence. Out-reading one's father, discovering after all that it wasn't being smarter than him that you wanted. A fine snow fell and I stood in it a few minutes, watching the hills brighten, thinking of what will never come to pass.

Tasting blood, remember those days?

Snake eggs.

There were rules about shooting guns and the men with whom I lived broadly speaking obeyed them, yet the possibility they would not was never far from my thoughts. What's your excuse?

The light in my daughter shines so brightly sometimes I remember ten thousand years ago touching the sun and falling a long way into a marble sea.

One thing I'd like is no more long goodbyes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Crickets Fill the Night

A fine snow falls, then stops and begins again a couple hours later. In other words, we've been here before. Cardinals in the birch tree out back, the fence between our house and the neighbor's leaning more than usual. When will you visit again and will that visit be the one that reminds me why I am here? 

Notes toward healing. My turtle soul wants to burrow in the wet moss of your soul, go all the way down in the waters of you. A man who cannot sleep, whose aversion to balms is the undoing he selects for himself over and over and over. Nothing vanilla please.

Everything diamantine.

Plaster falling from the church steeple where for reasons we cannot discern the weathervane no longer turns but merely points north. There are all these transitions, there are all these chances to begin again. 

In my heart, crickets fill the night with song.

I know a taxidermist who dreams each night he is hunted. Like, who doesn't wear a mask?

We are butterflies pretending they are humans who are dreaming they are butterflies pretending they are humans.

It is stories - it is frames - all the way down.

A worthy priest disrobes at the altar. Every gesture my father refused was saved so that in the Purgatories he might drown over and over in a sea of unreachable hands. 

Neither sins nor errors nor even wounds: the world waits on us to learn this final lesson.

So far down you forget there once was up.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A Man Who Never Learned

No more looking for signs! Christmas cactuses lined up above the sink, now and then a crimson petal falling into unwashed plates and knives. Kissing her tears and other reconfigured Satanic pleasures. 

In those days nobody knew what to do with dogs so the dogs died hard and lonely deaths. 

I liked pumping gas, reading poetry, fucking at night away from the fire. Stevie Nicks would have something to say about this, whatever this is, and I'd listen.

This is no longer about loss or gain, okay? Nothing wasted ever - even their bones were carved into dice we threw. The last guitar solo ever, which one day there will be.

On my knees in a desert I neither chose nor rejected.

How the sheep died differently than the pigs died, and how pigs dying made you think of your grandfather praising you for participating in killing. Maybe it's true there are only reflections but still. Curses in me, blessings in me.

Quiet in me just because.

The last shade of blue before the sky is black - can you see it? I don't know how dreams mean and still the dreams come and still I live in them for days, like a man who never learned he didn't have to pick up a gun. 

Childhood disappears into a camera, comes out a barely recognizable fairy tale: this this.

What can you prove?

I mean, I learned to love getting high because it took the edge off how angry I was and that anger tripped me into murder zones that still scare the shit out of me, so yeah, from time to time I smoke weed, fuck off with your judgment. 

This fist loosening, these ghosts insisting it's okay to let them go, this long drop I've nearly reached the end of. 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Forward Over a Narrow Bridge

Something smells good, let's find out what - how many stories begin that way? Lately, the sacred heart with which I was born - and into which I must die - resembles a baby bird straining for food at the nest's edge. This dream, this game - why?

What we learned atop Wheat Mountain. I remember driving past the entrance to Jamaica State Park years ago, turning around, asking directions and then going forward over a narrow bridge to the river of forbidden love which of course is not love at all. Winning at chess, losing at chess.

Night passes as a text held up to clear light, and the priest in me curses again the useless litanies of prayer, the empty expressions of power. Imagine walking your mother through the parking lot back to her car, wind blowing, her voice lost and you only just now realizing she is old, does not remember her own name, needs you to lean on, et cetera. We level up, we leave behind childhood, we ascend in ways that were not initially predictable.

Unlivable. Stepping off the gallows, dreading the strangling pain to follow but grateful that the end game has at last revealed itself. Polishing quartz, not unlike a mouse in a snake's cage.

Where there is nothing except nothing. One stands quietly under the hemlocks pissing, happy as always to hold their own dick. I ask a lot from a cup of coffee, I really do.

Passing through the city at dusk, especially grateful for the many pigeons darkening the sky with communal spirals and dives. Are we really just maximizing our ability to not be hungry? Many messes.

The unwashed masses. Tracking a certain dog from here into the afterlife and beyond, confident in the way he is confident.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Willingness is a Form of Love

There was a fortune-teller once, and once there was a dog. The gray sky descends on the mountain and the mountain disappears. One walks a long time in order to remember that they do not actually have legs. Tell me again how the witch came to live in the forest?

We have beloveds, we are begotten, and beasties abound. One scratches the cover of an old book but declines to open it, knowing a bit about what happens when the text is revealed. Winter lightning. A particular sorrow, having to do with how the past is no longer with us yet retains causative power. Well, as it happens I don't believe in God - now what?

I remember digging for clams with my cousins, smoking cigarettes at low tide, happy in a way that eluded - even now - understanding. Wanting to save things, always. I know what it means for a crystal to be healing - can explain, can extend - but you have to care deeply about people in order to learn it, i.e., all willingness is a form of love, and love is always healing. How certain men carry their arms while walking, especially when they're old. All my grandmothers are good witches, all of them live now with the shades.

The letter was pictorial - a faint watercolor of a green feather - and smelled of lemon and something darker, sage perhaps, and one lingered in the reception of it a long time, wishing it had come to something else. Avoidance strategies. "Who was bearded was complicit" - who wrote that sentence all those years ago and why does he hate writing it now? "Stop being a baby" - as if babies could ever be anything other than pure.

Fox in the far field, far field in the mind. Who we miss and why.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Studying Old Axes

Imagine the mountains are moving closer, imagine a light in the mountain becoming clearer, imagine no mountain. 

In the void is a single daisy.

This is not death.

Several cups of coffee later I find myself regretting a certain sentence and wishing I could rewrite it yet accepting without question that I cannot.

The Reagan family abattoir.

Stretches of highway with no motel, spotty reception, light rain making the macadam gleam.

But what do you feel?

Boys who never cared for trucks because they were comprised of straight lines and metal (against which the light ended) and because even then it was clear that slopes and bends - and transparency - were the Lord.

Maple leaves still hanging on the trees alongside Main Street, late portents.

It it not necessary to take me with you when you go.

Lace veils behind which much is hidden but nothing lost.

How she cried when it was time to leave the casket, how I threw myself to my knees demanding favoritism in that musty gaslit parlor.

Bad jokes.

Breakfast with my son, business-like but now and then we laugh.

What is perfect if not this?

A silence that is welcome but not desired, a visitor who is desired but not welcome.

A life in which libraries have factored in nontrivial ways.

In the middle of the night a handjob, coming hard across her expert fingers, not sleeping after but only resting beside her on a sea I did not create but which sustains me nonetheless.

In the barn with morning coffee, studying old axes, a kind of openness in me masquerading as confusion.

Many reflections, translucent signifiers, a world melting like ice on an old cast iron stove.

Friday, January 21, 2022

As If Kissing were Enough

Night comes with a trap door in it, everybody knows this. Blue jays and crows and later still juncos. Soldiers built the gallows the day before, testing them with sandbags around dusk, all the sounds all day making it into the jail where Mary Surratt waited. A nexus between Buddy Holly's death and Randy Rhoads' that does not mean as much as I'd like it to mean. Scattering salt. George gives away his wife's clothing within weeks of her death, five years later Ma still treats Dad's closet like a shrine. I stopped drinking when it was clear that no amount of drunk could kill the daemon. Hanging up my jacket, kicking off my boots. Imagine making out in the dimlit foyer, not rushing, as if kissing were enough. One begins to make peace with lingering and with women's anger, which are not separate. Certain donut recipes, certain ways of making coffee. We could be tenderer, we could be something fires can't destroy. My God my God, this love.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Back from Her Window

Toy trains and fire trucks. Disaster was always on hand and it got to where you kind of liked it. Can we all be kinder to koi, please? In my mind I can still walk - literally step for step - all the trails I knew in Worthington half a century ago. Belief is a kind of bleeding. Not a story so much as a storyteller in the end. Nontrivial networks that kept me close to bears, crows, trout, pheasants, deer, foxes and something so dangerous I still can't name it. It's easier to write than not write, is how. Chrisoula asks can we cancel certain social commitments, stay in, and of course I say yes. Sun going down, work not even close to done, but putting it all aside to be with her. Against the cold, these bodies. You think prisms sleep? Even in this darkness. Smoke rises, wind comes hard down Main Street, and you taste rum despite not having had any for going on forty years. The cliche is instructive, rewriting critical, but also sometimes you just have to get on with it. Now I am lifted and set further back from Her window, as if to make room for the worthy. Let me not resist this death. Also: where are those renamed bluets now son?

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A Deep Song All Night

More spring than winter, January trailing off into memory, a field of ferns in which dogs wander forever. Chosen but then somewhat oddly situated, reborn but only to face down obscurity. What is the function of the body, how does it becomes severed from the self, does it actually, what is really going on here? 

Many memories of driving on Route 91, especially in the shadow of the Seven Sisters, several summits of which I hiked with Jake nearly daily for two years. Clouds bunching together, going gray, settling atop low hills. There have always been trails in my life, wherever I am, whatever recess or hollow. She straightens a little, lifts her hips - something delicate, deliberate, a calibrated grind - and comes hard. Detaching after sometimes more than we intend. It's true: when you have a dog your life changes.

Cold tea in the dark, looking outside at leftover snow pocked from a light rain. We die differently, is one thing that must be said about the age. Even poetry did not demand anything from me I could not cheerfully give, but you - you do. Still swings.

The river sings a deep song all night, while I go back and forth between visions. Wanting a woman in the barn again, on hay again, and after adjusting our clothes, breathless in gold twilight again. We went duck hunting a couple times, I thought a lot about Thoreau, gazing between slats in the blind at a cold pond nearly eye level. Guns do not go off alone, as Emily Dickinson made clear. Life in the euphemism, grace in the in-between.

Do you remember smoking on the shore of Lake Champlain, two or three a.m., the fires dead and the women gone, the two of us still talking about God. Men who survive, remember to laugh, can deal with ghosts, let the little things go.

Late morning, maybe the last one ever.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Dreams You Don't Want to Hear About

Days of healing blur and one staggers away from them amazed and full of light. Roosters signifying the end of darkness. We are collaborators now, we meet in the twilight at the edge of the forest where once upon a time we saved each other. 

A sense that one is sailing and there is time yet to right the ship. To be in such intimate relationship with distance, exploring impossibility. I have no voice anymore, much less a desire to speak.

After Christmas the city turns mostly gray. Winter is always a journey in the heart of what hunkers down. I began looking at her husband and was uncomfortable with how much I didn't care was he happy. Snow falling overnight. Imagine being scared of children! 

There is only ever one ghost and you are it. Writing is performative, gestural. It helps to understand what Jim Morrison was doing, apart from his intentions. What is wild will be tamed, what is tame will have dreams you don't want to hear about.

A happiness one knows mainly in libraries. There will be no end to this he thundered. Street corner preachers. January things. I walk farther than usual, happy in a way I used to insist was fiction.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Falls Broken by All the Dead Dogs

Some things are hard to say but saying so is not hard. This sentence pays no taxes, takes no lien. At night the darkness does nothing you do not ask it to do, and the morning is equally obedient. What are skies to the one who has given up wings? To what are we unfaithful in the end if not our own self? I remember traveling a long way as a child without getting anywhere, and later writing poems about it but still not being happy. A lot of pussy over the years that amounted to pornographic reenactments of certain stations of the cross but no hard feelings, we've all got a stake in the Via Dolorosa. One takes care going out into the forest but less so when the moon is full. Sleeping with grifters, light from the parking lot falling on a half-empty whiskey bottle. The fact it was strucutured like a story didn't strike me as a possibility until I was lame from so many falls. Broken by all the dead dogs? Turn away from the quarry with me and trust me when I say we do not need to bring guns or other weapons where we are going. I make no deals with demons, demand no promises from angels, an arrangement they willingly reciprocate. Welcome to the site of forbidden learning! These rain clouds not yet ready to be kissed, this mountain in me you have yet to move and straddle. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Hunger is the Main Course

And what if hunger is the main course? In the days after Christmas rain fell, and the earth turned into a swamp. When the blind horse walks he tilts his head, steering in part by sound. What was day becomes night, as a hand becomes a fist, or opens to hold a hammer or another hand. The moon blurred by clouds, crows more confident than seems justified. The world the way it is, inarguably. The long shadow of Golgotha reaches us and we have to decide how to see it. Those who are called "dog," those who must not be. One never fully leaves the house in which they grew up but carries it with them, like a candle or a basket. My daughters' voices fill the wintry dusk, their dialogue finer than stars from which I cannot tear my eyes. I remember long walks after the others collapsed into bed, scriptured walls of the quarries one passes going down. "You never know" can be one of the answers. Something in me softens, something else sneaks out near dawn and does not come back for days. The problem is the old one of the storyteller dying to enter their own story. Cradle to grave is a familiar dance, one we shouldn't be quick to disdain. Beyond the witch, the grandmother, and beyond the grandmother, bears striding through the heavens, not knowing they are bears. I have only the most exultant means of describing you and it's not enough. What then?

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Floating in Imaginal Space

Imagine we are designed by and for love! Sunlight on the icy hills near noon, the world dissembling in diamantine light. Joy is when the wind lifts you high above the river into the Mother, who is galactic, kosmic and godless. This this.

We come around to truth by asking questions and listening to the answers and allowing a subsequent necessary quiet to inform additional interrogatories. Suddenly all these divorces, all of us in our fifties going to tag sales and diners, moths lighting candles in the museum of our skulls, searching for the file in which love letters are stored. Fries with gravy at midnight. What can one do with their brokenness but deny it?

I was in my late twenties when I realized there were bird-shaped holes in my chest and the world - whatever it was - contained neither mysteries nor secrets. Idle claims about the Lord which distract us from the intriguing ongoing relevance of Freud. The kids tease me about the diamonds, i.e., Dad's got another rock to obsess over, which I try to explain is about piercing certain existential veils, to which Sophia (whose relationship to death transcends in understanding my own) says quietly, "Dad." Dreams of psilocybin in which - under the effects of psilocybin - I dream of great rooms beneath the ocean floor in which vital stories are sustained by bellows the size of elephants. 

Jesus looks angry - I wonder why. What is the relationship between one stanza and another - especially those that aren't immediately adjacent. Wondering for whom my own clothing is possibly floating in imaginal space, if any and if at all. Writing "blowjob" as a form of optimistic spell-casting.

There is no other. Why questions. Photographs of childhood are traps, there is no other way to say it now. Trajectories that lead away from certain flagrancies, motels that are empty now, along roads that are mostly empty, in counties where the prevalence of poetry has been in decline since the early eighties.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Kin to Certain Stories

Light rain upon waking, the windows blurred by gray light. Dad's favorite prophet was Micah - I think often of the sermons he wrote, working out the terms and conditions of Yahweh's call to justice. She offers to pray with me, saying "but also - as I understand prayer - is not so much of what we do prayer to begin with?" Gifts of carnations, elephants carved from reconstructed stone. Early attempts to possess a Herkimer diamond go sideways, but it's a familiar road - kin to certain stories of Zen monks - and perseverance matters. Pheasants flying away in the twilight, my Dad saying after "you didn't even raise your gun" and only forty years later does it occur to me that he didn't either. We got drunker at Thanksgiving than Christmas, New Year's was often violent. Burning tires, the smoke rising for days it seemed. In a story I'm fond of telling they say "that gun ain't going to shoot itself, son." Go deeply into the many gazes and find the One Gaze. Photographs from childhood, sorrows that return like kids lost in a forest finding their way home. Why yes I did hold her hair back as she leaned. Warnings abound which go mostly ignored, as who has time around here to slow down? Painted rocks. William's pet turtle. I rise and dress slowly, go downstairs and make coffee. Not a puzzle, not a mystery. She follows, puts a hand on my shoulder, leads me into familiar intimacies. I was a pine forest once, and once I was an owl. This hunger - who taught it my name?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Otherwise in Moonlight

We shared a goal but brought different tools to the process? A lot of writing arises from thinking about stuff that's hard to explain or define. A man lives at the bottom of the ocean and from time to time surfaces, as when I touched a shark in 1987 or 88, and climbed Mansfield alone at night the following winter. Whatever you say is ordinary becomes otherwise in moonlight, and this too reflects (that is the verb) a law. You reach the place where your brokenness stops being a liability, and from there you begin to reconstruct our shared commitment to love. Idealized abstractions abound! Ken and I talk about dogs, how training them trains you, and how a specific kind of loneliness is often addressed thereby. Ascutney on one hand and a glade in a deep forest on another. My lovers move on, and the kitchen in which I write grows even clearer. Summon nothing but rather accept what is given and see if - amongst the inevitable bounty - there's not a couple of notes about nonviolence. Not this morning but another. Clouds trailing low across Emily Dickinson's hills. Advent passes and Christmas passes and then we are faced with a decision.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Full of a Difficult Gift

Why should I care, much less know? In the stores near Christmas with my daughter, briefly lonely in the jewelry aisle, but also understanding we are here to learn to love. Imagine steering by starlight. My father's headstone in winter, a useless symbol, yet here I am dissembling it. Chrisoula and I give each other head, come together and don't talk after, my gift to her. Water boiling for tea, a couple of the neighbor's chickens poking around the back porch. Appetite is what has no end. Clementines, good chocolate, cold coffee. You can say if it's not easy or natural then it's not joy and you wouldn't be wrong. One loses the way it all goes together, then finds it and then loses it again: this seems to be a law. I write to my teacher after two years of not writing, wondering is he even alive anymore. The New Testament's commitment to John in relation to Jesus means something that can be hard to countenance but since when do any of us get a pass on monkey see, monkey do? I mean yes, I'm tired but also, who stops traveling halfway to home? My father smiles with his lantern in the ancestral shadows and I smile back, my mouth full of a difficult gift.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Day After Night After Day

This woman with whom everything remains imaginal, as if endlessly deconstructing and recreating some fundamental imago. How our mothers are doing and how they are letting us know. I give up on prayer, turn to the poems, give up on the poems, and just sit in the hay loft, as if that were the purpose of existing. One mistakes moonlight for snow, then for frost, then frost for snow, and then loves a gray world and then nothing at all. Shared goals necessitate shared maps but not the other way around - a lot of relationship difficulties are solved thusly. Imagine entering a body of water together at dusk, wrapping up in each other and floating past the shallows as one body, and imagine loons floating out to greet us, teaching us their song. Making adjustments in order to hunt herkimer diamonds in this life, this new way of relating to starlight, this new way of caring enough to keep going. It's not cowboys and pilgrims all the way down, nor men nor turtles, nor even directions like "up" and "down." Basically inviting others to realize it's a game, yes, but a non-zero-sum game. All the way out to where the road ends, day after night after day.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Slow Dancing with Emily Dickinson

Everything is behind us now. Back to McGrath for a morning, skimming, closest I got to the poetics of the early twentieth century. What fades, what fails. Walking at midnight to the bridge on Plainfield Road and standing a long time looking down into the water, pretending to see reflected starlight. Slow-dancing with Emily Dickinson, that old dream. Trying to get into the mind of Paul and failing, the evangelical impulse never well-rooted in me, thank Christ. She doesn't laugh when I affect a brogue, knowing more than a little about the man who taught it to me. Cold chicken, apples and cheddar cheese, washed down with ginger ale. Camp coffee, bits of grass floating on the surface, noticing men don't fish it out and so not fishing it out. We are apes. The question of who is noticing you and what they want from you was acute at an early age, unusual for my gender, yet my mother was not really looking at me but at herself a certain way. Medusa is not a monster but a victim of trauma she was not allowed to name. There is this family story in which a water moccasin nearly killed me when I was two or three, everyone tells it and there's only one version (testament to truth), and I even have a memory of the snake shooting out of the ruined foundation towards my ankles, yet something in me insists I was never close to death nor ever will be. Soldiers coming home falling into each other sleeping, the war - well, their war anyway - finally over. Wind chimes. I have some ideas about what's next, you in?

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Medusa is not a Monster

One reflects a certain way on the gallows, doesn't one? The livid heat of poinsettas in sunlight. A circus of sorts, a museum.

The body at times such a grotesque architecture, all we want to do is look away. She tells me to stand and cry and fear nothing and I try, I really do, but it doesn't work. We go slowly into each other, days pass without breaking the connection. 

A calendar is a kind of trap. Imagine his last breath, imagine the light, imagine the dreams that came after, countless narratives twining into skeins impossible to unravel. The poem is limited by what I can see and imagine.

Deep laws attesting to love. Lake water chimes a little as it collapses against the pier where we stand in a light rain, not speaking. Medusa is not a monster I have ever feared.

Watering down the whiskey to make it last, when that's still an option. Writing standing up, half-dancing to Blondie's Greatest Hits. I remember they found Twister in the attic and took it down laughing but many of the adults in the room were uncomfortable once it was set it up, there on the floor, actually playable, looking at it in a way that made clear something bad had happened, something they could none of them risk happening again - I saw it, I asked about it, but nobody ever explained it and here I am. 

Paintings of lemons from the seventeenth century. Ice yet on the eastern face of the mountains. Those angels and demons you collectively banished did not die but merely wait, endlessly patient on a dark and unnamed island.

This is how it is now. I slip a hand under her shirt, my thumb circling her nipple, and her eyes close and she leans into me sighing, a loveliness that can be neither lost nor gained.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Bringing Forth the Ancestors

Against the pale sky blue mountains, and in the mountainous sky heavy clouds the size of continents. My eyes are travelers, my heart an old wagon full of vagrants. Mostly this life has passed infected by a desire to rescue animals. Touching the shark, getting on your knees to see deeper into the bear den. What is a wasp's nest if not this? I was hurt a lot as a child and it affects me now, it really does, and this is neither a new nor a significant story, and yet. The one whose blessing we ask first and whose grace-filled presence we say thank you for last. Blossoms fall off the poinsettas, poems disappear into regions of the mind unmapped and unexplored. Guns go off. A kind of daze now and then interrupted by religious awe. I remember her killing the snake with a hoe, flinging its body into the forest - the snake coming apart in the sky, each piece a bloody sigil - a gesture that remains both magnificent and horrifying. Perhaps what we are does not exist in physical form but physical form exists in what we are. Anyway, we're nearing the end. Stirring the soup, sharing a coffee, bringing forth the ancestors. I mean worthy, wanted, welcome at last.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Blue Ethereality

Seams in the light indicating visitors, ghosts or talking llamas maybe, maybe angels of the sort that used to visit back in Worthington. Rocking chairs going by themselves. Her vast body is behind me now, like all the deaths I circle at distances in danger of collapsing. Maple leaves skit up Main Street, driven by light winds that make a lonely sound in mostly empty trees. Don't overdo it? We talk about a long winter in the hay loft, lights out because the moon is visible, a blue ethereality making us tenderer than usual. The wedding, the marriage, the infidelity, the forgiveness and the morning after et cetera. What is a kind of ritual or dance? Sharing a cup of coffee in the barn before it is light, chores no longer a burden. This is the end of what we make with marble. One shifts their emphasis from gaze to glance, from deep dives to skimming, and from dreaming to the kitchen, where soup is on and the pantry door temptingly ajar. Mistaking a certain tree on the horizon for a crucifix, wondering not for the last time are we any closer to the end of fear. I mean, really: what happens when you let go of a helium-filled balloon and don't look up?

Thursday, January 6, 2022

A Woman whose Hunger was Dangerous

Given distance, the mountain recedes. Jesus goes on speaking and you drift a little listening, his voice calm and your soul happy, drifting as you have since childhood when certain outside winds were right. The closet, the basement and the attic. Snakes unfurl and reveal the law. Given wings, one floats into the sky, close but not too close to the sun. She was not a goddess but a woman whose hunger was dangerous, allowing me to recreate old energies and live in them a while. Chrisoula and I walk a long time circling the village, pausing to look at the horses from the other side of the river, talking about love. What goes on beneath the many changes that seem to be our lives? Something sweet occurs when you realize you're not too special to die. Wedding band blues. Pansies carved in gold. There are other possibilities, always - what else is grace? These lives felt like flowers once, and once they felt like stories. A bright jewel in the void, the last ray of sunlight on Solstice. A heaviness lifts, a bear passes, cardinals fill the sky. Look at us all standing quietly hand-in-hand on the shores of this pretty, this deep-but-not-too-deep, New England lake of fire.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Distances We Could Bridge

The deeper you go into sorrow, the quieter it becomes. There are interior spaces in which there is no self to speak of, only experience. What are your plans for me again?

I take a small cup of tea to the hay loft and sit quietly with the pain, not bearing it but not resisting it either. Trains grinding slowly east, cities coming to. We don't ask to be here and yet here we are.

Letting her sleep. Horses grazing at distances we could bridge if it were necessary. Old ways of sharing no longer an option.

Finding the center of us and not wanting to lose it again. Children know more about suffering than anybody wants to say. Reflected Christmas lights, easy metaphors that lock us into unhelpful narratives.

Maybe I'm not as smart as I think? Boxing up certain categories of book, lugging the boxes into the attic. Questions of helpfulness rest on assumptions of what we are in truth, hence our interest in fictional detectives.

The architecture of one's past. Studying bees. The garden in early winter, her heart.

One limps to a cottage in a land where the law says no lanterns are allowed after the moon rises. These cobbled-together prayers, these poems that smolder and smoke. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

A Now Dogless Summit

Learning to let rats live with me in the hayloft. Ben Franklin in his cups, Susan Dickinson settling for her true love's brother. Just before dawn the rain turns briefly to sleet, light wind coming down the valley with a high lonesome moan. Your telephone is my long walk to a now-dogless summit. In a sense to which I am not alien, it's Hank Williams songs all the way down. One sentence more precious than another, as if that ever helped anyone! We were a family in ways that confused me, patriarchy always an ill-fitting cover for the way things really worked. And yet there is a woman in whom all your pain is disappeared, on terms and conditions too pure to have come from you. Who makes the ends meet? Some storms last for days, others pass with the faintest of faint traces. How open any heart becomes when you call on it to open!

Monday, January 3, 2022

The Gospel when It's No Longer Shared

For a while there were only names, then I became something with a body. Rain in winter, discouraging us from longer walks. How you can still be surprised by crows. My father understood things but failed to communicate the understanding, as if leveling up too quickly on one path, leaving another to wither. Gardens in Montreal where we walked happily, our feet smooth spades that no longer remembered the history of war and the many dead who have seen its end. How hopeful I became, being taught a new way of thinking, and yet here I am with the same sorrow, which is the same old unanswered question about joy. Mostly it's moving words around but sometimes sentences, and always this attentiveness - this stillness - like how you raise a gun when hunting deer. Swans, too, barrel-chested and pure. In the end, I had to give up being a bearer of tidings, good or bad. What is the gospel when it's no longer shared? A man following horses following his daughters. What is no longer porous or transparent? There are no ends to the earth. I am asking: what matters?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Requisite Psychic Mirrors

I miss mountains and wonder could we live that way again. You learn something from the rain, the afternoon darkening, cold coming on, too wet to build a fire. How sometimes you settle in. Mundane sagacity. She invites me to a certain type of prayer and I pass, having failed to polish the requisite psychic mirrors earlier. Cars you can't afford going up and down this busy road in Boston at midnight, where you cannot say how you arrived nor will you ever leave. Disclosures I'd rather not make anymore. These trespasses we hold against ourselves, on orders from supposedly on high. And yet there is so much I'd rather die than face. She insisted on bringing to light what longed to be brought to the light, thus necessitating the past hundred and fifty centuries or so. "Don't worry," Thérèse said, "all my suffering is for Jesus," and at the end she wasn't saying it because it was true - she knew at that juncture it was a lie - but because she knew her sisters weren't ready yet to hear what was true - that courage.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Always Include a Dog

An Irish song. A friend in Jesus anchoring us in history. Smoking at night outside, the city asleep around you, quiet as the orphanage was quiet on certain weekends and holidays.

This prayer turns your tongue into a prism which needs the light of your open mouth praising Her first and last!

What a hot glorious mess we are.

Shifts in volume.

Ron Atkinson, yet another brother who left me only obscurantist poems to intuit next steps.

I walk a long time away from the cave, many days and nights all the way to where a different smoke appears on the horizon.

Pretending to go along - what happens when you don't?

Unsure of what goes on in the black box others are, I am reliably brought to the black box (why so many nightmares and photographs) I am.

Light in the socket of the blind horse's skull.

The suicides begin stacking up and not for the last time I curse my habit of seeking pattern in all things.

Christ, you don't have to keep climbing that hill with all those empty crosses on it, you can stop, sit with us a while, you can tell us the story of how you got here. 

How do mothers know when to die? 

Grandmother says "always include a dog and also, live with a woman who won't be unhappy you include a dog." 

Falling again, going down again, into the stillness past the angels and demons of which we are pledged to never speak, save obscurely every seven poems.

Sleeping as if forgiven.

Or was it sentences.

Making love as if floating in a sea that does not distinguish between bodies the way I do. 

Moonlight, winter rain, lukewarm tea: beginnings.