The Equal of Saffron

Morning stillness. My heart aches, my brain is wired, and the radio says a storm is coming. A late addition to the canon? I have participated in the destruction of what I love and this is my season to repent. Sourdough, Santa Claus, celibacy.
Not the story but the teller and not the teller but the light in which he knows to tell a story? Monsters appear and I brush them aside, having trained with demons and angels for exactly these confrontations. Instant coffee with Joe in his little kitchen after visiting his oxen, happy in a way I would not be again for a very long time. One grows tired of the old arguments, takes a chair to the window and watches the light change. In my heart it is always winter.
Passing through the dining room and pausing to talk to my son who feels distant now, more and more alien. Happiest with my feet in the shallows. The far mountains are dust-colored, lovely against the lighter sky, a horizon against which the life of me collides. The next sentence is not this sentence, which is – no kidding – the previous sentence. A can of beans heating in coals, Jake resting a few feet away.
There was this love once, once there was this way of being in the world that was like lightning, a wilderness. When free doughnuts are no boon. The rough tongues of the calves against my thumb, dust motes everywhere, the whole world a deluge of beauty only words could possibly be the equal of. Saffron and sapphire. Hansel writing poems in a café in a city that nobody back home knows about.
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Against an Ancient Fence

You worry too much, seems to be the consensus but we are what we are, you know? And yet driving west the snowy fields are full of diamonds, prismatic radiance glittering as far as the eye can see. God is love, love is all, om shanti amen et cetera. Will you be here when it all goes sideways, which it always does eventually?
Moody’s Life After Life, which I read too intensely too early, adults basically ignoring my reading habits which created a lot of problems in my thinking decades later. We are what we eat, amongst other lies. Darkness is cumbersome but also easy to rest in, don’t complain. My wind tunnel soul, my cinder block heart.
My long hard fall falling apart? We don’t say much but what we do say is kind and easy, mostly helpful, befitting love. Some veil is being drawn revealing a world which after you’re done ogling it turns out to be merely another veil. Welcome to an apple so cold it hurt my teeth.
Oneness is mostly a matter of seeing the nonconceptual awareness in which all perceptual experience cashes out. We are left with stories, still births, static, stains. How in winter it hurts to think of certain children’s graves under the earth, the earth itself beneath layered snow. I’m an antique radio, a nineteenth century music box, I’m Cinderella saying fuck the ball, Icarus landing to find his father dead and the world changed, now what.
Sitting on the front porch watching rabbits play where grass tangles with an ancient fence. Before dawn Venus glitters between bare limbs of frozen maples. I’ve forgotten something but I can’t say what, so we’re going to have to do this cold. Practice obscures perfection, perfection cannot be studied.
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When Turtles Surface

Back steps creaking in mid-winter cold. How bleak the heart can seem before the world awakens and you are alone carrying hay to the horses. My heart, that blind chickadee.
Who steals the moon from the sky? We go forward with narratives, eventually realizing we have to choose one or two and commit to telling them better. Hansel living alone in an unfamiliar city, accepting his calling to write, wondering why every poem and story he writes features a woman stronger than he is. 
You finish the coffee, you begin another poem. How soft the sky is a few minutes after dawn, as if there really is such a thing as being born again. I wonder what kind of kisser you are, I really do.
New Tarot decks making new demands on my lust which is hard to explain but trust me. Icicles on the window eaves and other love letters from Christ. Eating by hand in the dark.
Night is a billows through which I travel in a saffron robe, now and then stopping to make love to men and women who are not fellow travelers but farmers. Do you want the end of loneliness or just another respite, right? I remember my first bird feeder and how it helped me understand the relationship between conflict and hunger. 
Another old man making clear my way is governed mostly by women. That feeling of just before you come, the center of you shifting, light breaking as when turtles surface in still blue ponds. It’s never an error to sing, the tune carries you not the other way around.
Being a man who takes amethyst seriously. What happens when you leave the trail, according to the trail?
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A Blind Horizon

What I will not look away from and why I will not look away.
Playing Poor Wayfarin’ Stranger with a skeletal mandolin player on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont in 1990, the Spring that year unusually cold.
Extremes which feel merited emotionally but in which in the end one loses nearly everything.
The sadness of hoping I am wrong and wanting to trust you again. 
Dogs who are grateful for any bone, any touch.
Playing Shelter from the Storm on the front porch, summer dusk, neighbors passing by and waving, me nodding, letting it all otherwise go because at this juncture, why not/what else/et cetera. 
The secret to bearing any pain is knowing down deep you deserve it, thanks Dad!
Checkers bored me, chess required too much attention, and anyway winning and losing was unnecessarily socially complex, ergo, Dungeons and Dragons.
Playing Duncan all those years ago in a little apartment across from the homeless shelter, over and over at the window, amazed at how much happiness was possible. 
Any companion to follow. 
This doglessness, this penance I must learn alone to refuse.
Pain infuriated my father because it it showed him what he was doing, is one way to see it.
Pussy is darkness, a blind horizon, the heat of it melts my foolish tongue, and yet only the spoken word is its equal. 
My cheap religion, my unearned education.
Do you remember what is beautiful and do you know that it is in you not as an object or a thing but as a way of knowing?
Is it easier to laugh or fuck and why.
The spirit in which we offer ourselves to others is what matters.
The weak tea of Sean’s intellect, the relentless optimism of his dick, and the sweet sweet mirror ball of his spirituality. 
Son of parents who were smart enough to know better but not humble enough to change?
Hey, that reminds me.
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Driven by Angels

What if the Taung Child’s death cries are the cosmos?
Nothing suits us like being naked by a fire.
Kissing in the shallows.
You cannot pursue grace, can only grow still and quiet and remember grace, for it does not move and has no intention to evade, but is simply the nature of the cosmos.
Crucifixion decoupled from resurrection: that emptiness.
A hand-carved wooden bear my grandfather gave me, also a little block of smooth dark marble.
Sweeping snow off the stairs, sitting to catch our breath, remembering that for all that went sideways in this life – which a lot did, and does – the path was never obscured.
Not disco but the lights and not even the lights but the mirror ball itself and not the mirror ball itself but beauty and not beauty but what cannot last because it does – it truly does – point to what is eternal and infinite, which consumes all signs, including the ones pointing to it, and therefore in which all this muttering and observation is at last home.
The mailbox the day after a drunk clipped it with his pickup.
I am the man who shot at deer but deliberately aimed high, was shamed by the other hunters for missing, and shamed before my father both for missing and wanting to miss (which he knew in his heart was my project), but worth it man, worth it.
Getting stoned once at rehearsal and rewriting “Whole Lotta Love” as “Whole Lotta Kale,” all of us laughing so hard we couldn’t play, a happiness I still recall.
Fires at which we are not warmed, only reminded of destruction.
For what are you asking, really?
Late morning snow flurries.
Pushing out of bed at three a.m. in order to read and write before work, a discipline for which I take no credit, being driven by angels who are indifferent to my wants.
We who were married by a river, literally.
Distance our chapel, bird song our wedding bells, pine trees our many guests.
Chrisoula nixes the yurt and I drive to Vermont, hurt and angry, stopping at that place in Chester for coffee, drinking it in the car shivering, lost in the way I agree to be lost, over and over and over.
Our enigmatic host!
Listen to the storyteller who says: wishes are part of the story too and never entirely in vain. 
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More Empty Kisses

A single icicle on the clothesline. Broken shovels we nontheless use, clearing the driveway and paths back and forth. No more empty kisses!
Remember dating? The sky lowers, snow falls, and the house becomes quiet at midnight, me sitting in the kitchen with cold tea and ten thousand sentences. Sophia arranges her books by color, the shelves rainbow-like, and from time to time I visit her and stare in amazement at this new way of bringing order to the world. 
We live with deadlines, always. This ongoing suffering servant narrative. Praying the rosary driving, unconcerned with why.
The Cosmic Turtle of Divine Love hibernates a lot, and we can’t truly understand His gifts if we do not also share in His rest. Acceptance is the answer to all my problems save one? This heart that cannot shake its adoration – indeed, its idolization – of Currier and Ives.
What about Stafford bothers you so much? In so many ways made unwell by the label “Catholic Worker.” When he gets around to asking what is it about him that makes women prone to cheating, just affirm the usefulness of the question and otherwise stay out of his way. 
Updating my mother on what the Pope is saying and doing. I am the author of the only blow that’s going to land on me! And yet I do long to be held in ways that so far nobody has held me.
Something kenotic, something helpful. The end of our dissolution at hand.
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Lifting a Little Starlight

I am a turtle dreaming he is a contemplative biped. Hemlocks decked with snow, the house shifting a little when the heat comes on. Will we ever understand Little Big Horn?
A cross awaits me and I live in complete fear of it. All these chairs on which we sit waiting. What will happen to this little chunk of amethyst when I die? 
A woman who brought no gift but instead went shopping, and thus revealed the cosmos. Trick questions (and tricky answers) abound. In the morning your note arrives and I lose track of time reading and re-reading it.
How the hippies represented a new order. Sleet pelting the windows, writing all morning when I meant to be still. Shall we read yet another book on gut health?
In a dream, a woman I used to know does not want to speak to me, tries to get away as I talk, and I am confused by this but not sad, end up alone studying my empty hands. What will we know by mid-February that we do not know now? No more descriptions please.
Driving home on salt-streaked macadam, remembering going down on Melissa in the back of the pickup, early eighties and both of us kids still, her hips lifting a little, starlight soft on the back of my neck. Are we simply between motels? Chrisoula turns in her sleep, the cats all shift, and still I cannot move but only lay there in the darkness, begging an alien God to forgive me.  
Be liquescent? One begins to study their fascination with pastels as a medium, fearful as always of what appears soft, yielding, indeterminate, et cetera.
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Dogs where the Pain is

Walking at dawn, snow sparkling, happy in ways that used to be fiction. “You can’t make it up” is patently false. Sexual fantasies repeating now in other minds like all along it was about communion. Blue jays in hemlocks, juncos picking through chicken scratch. Let it be and it enters into nontrivial dialogue with you. Steam rising off the compost. So much settles when we settle on the river, let it carry us where it will. Before your name, your being, and before your being something we cannot say aloud. I remember certain specific happinesses, including watching it rain from the back porch, loose horses galloping together through recently-harvested potato fields. At what age did I lose the ability to communicate with my father and is there a better way to ask this question. Throaty howl of the rooster the day before he is killed. One fishes a long time without worrying are they catching anything. Putting aside the clock, putting aside the calendar. “I’m not asking.” Stamping our feet in the parlor, unraveling our scarf. Waiting through night, waiting through the day. There are dogs where the pain is deepest. Om shanti, om shanti, amen.

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A Lover like You

This is not being shared like how once upon a time I made mix tapes, okay. The long journey back to birth has begun at last. The cosmos sliding down your throat after. Through snow, stubbled corn and tracks of crows. Who needs helium when they’ve got a lover like you opening her legs?
Hemlock boughs lowering. Chords were not invented but discovered – this is a nontrivial argument, don’t run away. Staggering drunk up piss-stained hallways, right fist aching because that one first and when it counts. We all want to grow up in a family like the family we grew up in, you think you’re special? Oh how you listen when I go on this way.
What breaks, what braids itself together with spit and longing. Imagine Hansel learning it’s sentences not lines that will save him, his whole life changed in a second. These trails that do not go on forever, no matter how you wish they would. A woman’s voice over many miles proving once again your inside is your outside and the outside in. I don’t like these feelings, what else is new.
Odd how little in the end we need to say. Splashing in shallows sure but also always climbing mountains, always jumping off the highest quarry cliffs down. Ireland, well, honestly fuck Ireland. She laughs when I tell her about hating remembering the whaling trip, says want to read today’s twenty sentences to me? My heart melts, my mind soars like yesterday’s bald eagle on the river, this freedom man, it’s no joke.
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Peace with all the Dead

Roosters straining against darkness. Snow falling, sparse and slow, like climbing hills in Greece to get a better look at the sea. Wings are heavy – nobody tells you this.
Morning passes writing, the only real peace I know. We are organized by sorrow, itself a product of fear. Aunt Muriel cooking eggs by gently spooning hot lard over them, never flipping them.
My doughnut soul, my coffee heart. The end game is seeing there is no end and so beginning again. Making peace with all the dead animals.
Reruns. Jade turtles, quartz, amethyst and a blue glass scallop shell on the chess board. Print too small to effectively read.
What does the market want is not a great question! Walls of dense bracken in which birds rest as the dusk thickens around us. Ireland lived in him in ways the rest of us could only imagine.
The secret to reading Tarot is understanding there are only so many stories and you know them all by heart. Deer coming off the mountain to graze. At night when I listen to the river I frequently remind myself I am listening to a river.
Yet eventually even remembering fails. There is a darkness gathering, a promise being broken, there are pretenses to holiness that are very hard to resist. 
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