Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Refusing Conclusion

What do you want the most?
Her letters came from England, they were long and hand-written, passionate and beautiful, I read and re-read them a thousand times, and in a nontrivial way, nothing has happened since. 
Clouds move across the sky, the apple trees shiver.
I remember Sophia listening to Watts Brooks in the dark, then pointing at the water and saying quietly “god sounds.”
Wishing you were here to share a joint and watch Scooby Doo, reflect over ice cream on its cosmic connection to The Castle of Otranto.
“All I knew about awakening was that it meant digging graves,” or something like that.
Quartz in sunlight after rain showers pass, still the only thing I really need.
We spend an hour or so sitting under budding maple trees, talking about how we might redesign the chicken space, eventually realizing we have aged out of that.
Trudge drops off a dozen bales of mulch hay which we stack behind the barn.
Wind late at night, Chrisoula turning to throw an arm over me, which helps less than knowing that she means to help helps.
Merry go-rounds in late summer sunlight.
We who are watched through windows, unbeknownst.
Chrisoula and the kids surprise me by getting Box of Moonlight via interlibrary loan and we watch it together and later at night – when I am alone and the ghosts come – I cry quietly for the man I will never become because of the child I was forced to be.

“Would you say that’s red,” Chrisoula asked, pointing at a tractor in the far field and I answered “it is the color of the blood on the thorns that Christ wore while he was crucified,” to which Chrisoula responds, “god you can be tedious,” which made us both laugh.
For a long time I thought rewriting meant shortening, tightening, but now I see it has more to do with refusing conclusion, declaring beautifully one’s fidelity to infinite beginnings.
And did you, in the end, dig more graves than your father did?
We study the last half dozen chickens in the freezer, we wonder what is happening to us, to all of us, that this should be how they live and die and how we eat.
Women I have known who alone have made clear that Jesus is not fucking around.
I wrote poems entirely by hand until I was twenty-one or two, I think word processing screws up your intuitive sense of where a line ends, hence sentences.
In their apartment in Fall River it was possible to play dangerous games and I did, to my ongoing detriment I did.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Something Inside Me Throws a Fist

One grows tired of grieving, says so to the hemlocks, who gently respond, “Sean you have not yet begun to grieve.” Cardinals remind me the surface is not given to be ignored. How happy it makes me, thinking of the history of narrative, the classic stories that are forgotten now or live as faint hints in Beowulf.
Who is the observer? Mountains appear as the mist thins, the late morning light insisting we relate to distance this way and not another. I have hurt people and I have hurt animals and some nights I still can’t find a way to accept forgiveness. Lines in the sand, lines in our heart.
One day I will no longer need to write these sentences but today is not that day. Your heart is my real home, only you and I know this, only you and I need to. Madonna at a late juncture. She calls it “the Reagan curse” and something inside me throws a fist, I’d forgotten how much pain I was in.
Giving attention to the fir tree I am growing out back, grateful the cosmos allows me to love in this mute but care-filled way. How starfish felt in my hand, how I wanted to tame seagulls, how sometimes I would swim deeper than was allowed, feel the depths and currents, and wonder how far you could go, was there really such a thing as the bottom or the end. Pancakes with blueberries, butter and hot syrup, is there any other heaven. Fionnghuala’s relationship with color.
Was never really a bachelor. Night falling everywhere, wading through darkness. Around noon the mail comes, through the hayloft window I watch Chrisoula get it, then linger to talk to Patricia who is passing by with her little dog. Cleaning up the fallen fence, not bothering to replace it: this this.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

When We Go Together

In my head, always, minor chords, clouds, crucifixes. My first lesson on the low D whistle was, sit for an hour with your whistle giving attention to breath and "don't fucking play it." Mist softens something in me by drawing the relevant horizons closer. Smell of rain on asphalt, oh.
How deeply we go when we go together. I felt myself dissolving, discovering a vivid thread in a swirling block universe, a single spark of light traveling nowhere through nothing, happily. Insight is a distraction, self-awareness is a distraction. Oh luminous ocean pouring through the sockets of my skull, may your salty exultation seed our broken earth.
My mother is the strongest and most difficult person I know, the light in her so bright at times there is nothing but light, and the darkness at other times making you forget about light altogether. Something shifts when you begin living from the altar that is within you and from which you cannot be separate. Is it all a question of translation then? Ruts on the side of the driveway Chrisoula asks will I fix.
The early chapters of A Course in Miracles emphasize its nature as a work in progress, which shifts the nature of the relationship. Suddenly all these cats. Who taught you what death was, who taught you how to bury the dead, who said what at what juncture that allowed you to consider that the church, so called, was lying to you. Notes by hand.
A lifetime of writing poems on the margin of a life in which being a poet was a secret, always by necessity, though the terms and conditions did change over time. Going to Bronson Brook, sampling the Ganges, leaving an apple for Abhishiktananda or a black bear, whoever visits first. Her halo which I cannot bear to remove, though everything else comes off in time. Is this fiction, it feels like fiction.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Rocks I Don't Remember

I ask Chrisoula what is the Greek word for blowjob and she replies, "Tha fáo to fídi kai to fídi tha pethánei," which roughly translates to "I will eat the snake and the snake will die."  

Finally able to run outside again. River water sluicing hard near rocks I don't remember, probably carried downriver by late spring torrents. Two redheads changed my life, both used the word "melt" in their spells, I barely survived, truly. It turns out you aren't obligated to attend every ritual. 

Distressed confessions.

In my heart it is almost always Good Friday.

When you don't know how to love, you write sonnets.

In the morning the hemlocks point to where the sun rises, river flowing fast below the mist. This forgotten song, this metaphor I have finally had my fill of.

Thank Christ literally.

There is more between us than the heavens, she wrote. We look back, we reclaim a vital simplicity. We who understand the language of the sword.

Misapplications. What wordiness in the end are we allowed?

Melodies just before dawn - the stillness, the crows, the eighteen-wheelers on Route Nine, the river fading, the juncos waking up.

Et cetera is not for nothing. Suddenly seeing him drift away as if never to return and I realize I miss him, no matter how damned it makes me.

Om shanti shanti shanti, hallelujah, amen.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Son of a Cemetery Commissioner

Clam cakes. Moss on the north side of the maple trees. Stone walls that no longer mean what they meant being built. How guitars sounded in the 1950s, especially Link Wray’s. I never cared much whether someone swallowed or didn’t until I met you when all of a sudden I cared a lot.
You grow up the son of a cemetery commissioner you learn how to dig graves, you learn a certain way of seeing death. Pan-fried chicken with onion and garlic on a bed of rice. He sang Janis Joplin songs, he had a nice voice for the blues, I don’t know what became of him. We kissed a little, she was lovely and a good kisser, but it bothered me were near the quay in Galway, and “quay” and “kiss” didn’t fit in the poem I was mentally writing and she broke away asking “what’s wrong,” I told her what I was thinking, which she was not as charmed by as I expected. Composing using only the black keys.
In a lot of ways my writing process can be summed up as: will this hold a woman’s attention? Still not sure how Stephen Foster songs fit in the canon. I was too close to sex as a child, it hurts to write that, it wasn’t my fault and it did a lot of damage, I have no idea what's next. Snakes in the barn. Men who are covetous and quick to anger.
The devil takes the form of cats sometimes, sometimes crows, and sometimes you look in the mirror and glimpse something terrifying and familiar. Ruinous grapes. We walk through sunlit fields, we trail our hands over tall grasses, we are getting somewhere together but only you are allowed to know where. Mercy unto all sinners! This dance we share, this cup we hold to one another's lips, murmuring prayers of forgiveness and mercy.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Hearing a Different Song

Bartenders I’ve known, including one whose name I forget, middle of the day in Burlington, the two of us talking about our Dads and how good they were at tracking deer. So much of this life passed in explanations, only a few of which ended up mattering. At a distance, voices, or are the voices themselves the distance. Stargazing never gets old.
We take blankets out back, build a fire, sit together talking like in the old days before kids, until she dozes off, head on my lap, and I enter the beautiful stillness of the fire going out, the world going dark, this woman - this love - all that remains. Without warning. And the day passes, and I cannot find a way to be sad, it’s like all the grief just disappeared. Sunflowers dapple the cosmos.
Let it be known that you are not required to maximize everything. Licking her pussy, thinking of willow trees by the rivers of my childhood. Smooth stones you could hold a long time in your mouth. I’ve made mistakes, made amends where I can, forgotten a lot, what else can you do.
Slipping onto the back porch roof to smoke pot, stars breathing – or pulsing anyway – high overhead, my heart full and for a few minutes I am so happy I could float away. Ferns in shadowy places. Wanting to walk with you through the Heath Fair, hold your hand, not say much, maybe share a lemonade and fries. In my mind I am a good dancer, I ask Chrisoula if I am a good dancer, she says “well, you are a subtle dancer,” to which I say, “what the fuck is that supposed to mean,” to which Fionnghuala says – calling from the next room – “you always look like you're hearing a different song than everyone else.”
Advances, advents, artefacts, alley cats. I wonder sometimes what sleep was like for my ancestors – the way far back ones, the pagans and nomads. Ma keeps Dad’s wedding ring in a heart-shaped bowl by a picture of them at what looks like a Christmas party. Driving at night, windows down, full moon blooding the horizon, let's go faster further than we planned, yeah?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Where Your Face Was

How “war” arises etymologically from words that relate to “confusion.” Witches riding bicycles up Main Street. Hot buttered rum indeed.
I once imagined this project would end when I repeated a title but now I know how it ends.
Life is a wave of sorts – an energetic profusion – rushing the watery surface, ascending towards the stars. Cornbread with raspberry jam. Standing by the window, playing As I Roved Out on the pennywhistle. It’s the attic and basement that remind us how old the house is.
It’s hard to explain the cookbooks, I just read them, mostly I cook from memory, and most of my memories are of my mother and grandmothers cooking, and these are the only memories I will miss when I am dead. Opening the curtains at night to see the moon and stars. 
I dreamed you were straddling me, baobab trees rose from your shoulders, and where your face was a moon shone, vast and bright, like a promise of peace forever fulfilled.
Umbrellas are sexy, what can I say.

Getting by. David, do you remember that time canoeing with our dads, the picnic in that field overlooking the reservoir, how happy we were?
Jasper says what if it was supposed to be twenty-one sentences.
Sixteen. Seventeen. I like Palm Sunday more than Easter, I’m that kind of guy.

What happens in a blackout does not stay in a blackout, sorry.
What if there is no more good news ever and what if you and I were the ones given to make it otherwise?

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Desire Knows the Limits of the Body

I’m tired, I’m not allowed to say this, not allowed to show this, why.
The fog lifts – or dissolves, who knows, who was watching – and suddenly the far range of the Taconics is visible, deep purple with bursts of red and gold here and there. How much sorrow there is in sex, way down deep near the bottom, where desire knows the limits of the body. Always ask: what is really going on.
It's no secret why psychotherapy caught on when it did, just as we were sliding into a technological nightmare (which psychology has deepened rather than ended). Taking down the Hindu prayer flags. Many languages between us.
You got good at hiding but something happened to you on the inside as a result, those are the effects you live with now.
How happy Chrisoula is these days, how I sit quietly watching her, grateful for this note on which to end.
Not agreeing on what music to play while driving, settling on an old Windham Hill compilation, one of those winter ones, keeping the volume low. The twentieth century is not finished with us. I am not a righteous king writing psalms beside moonlit streams. We who are alive because a long line of somebodies before us survived long enough to procreate. Chips with salsa, Friends re-runs, her feet on my lap.
“We were not born with masks,” my aunt proclaims, to which Fionnghuala responds, “were you born with clothes,” and the look of anger that flashes across both my mother’s and aunt’s faces drives me to my feet in protective rage but Fionnghuala simply sits at the table and stares both women down, teaching me yet again what is strength and what is not. 
Second guesses, bane of joy everywhere.
And yet on the long drive home we are unexpectedly happy, all our sentences mingling and commingling, like the drunks of my childhood trying to finish each other's jokes. Gazing at willow trees I briefly allow myself to remember how beautiful and innocent I am.
This savanna we swore we would never leave.

Monday, May 23, 2022

While the Snake Unfurls

Morning is busy, all these visitors, but then is not, and suddenly there is this quiet, so you write poems, trying to find a way to talk about the weather without using the words “gray,” “drizzle” or “cloud.”
Drummer Hoff, thank you - thank you for firing it off.
Ritual exchanges designed to expose our unhelpful reliance on commerce.
She asks will I visit Mexico and I say no, try to explain how travel is not my path, is actually the opposite of my path but she doesn’t understand, Mexico is so beautiful, the people so lovely.
Far hills obscured, kind of like the way good intentions don’t matter the way we think.
Imperfections on the moon I cannot see but know are there – did I really write that back in 2000?
Praying with all my heart, let me not hurt another person, nor another creature at all, nor even a blade of grass or falling leaf.
Rarely deleting but frequently rewriting, you can’t make a mistake is basically the art.
Night swimming.
You forgive everyone – every last oppressor, what a journey – and something still stands in the way of peace and you realize you have not forgiven yourself and then you see it: the actual journey and that which blocks your way and then you realize even shoelessness will not be enough.
I drank hard in my early twenties, fought a lot, got hurt a lot, did some stuff I wish I hadn’t done, but mostly I just sat in dark rooms upending bottles until I blacked out, it wasn't romantic, wasn't sexy, wasn't tragic, it was more like how a mouse frantically cleans itself while the snake unfurls.

Games we play at the behest of nature.
They took him in the garden, he had to be at least briefly frightened, knowing exactly what was going to happen next.
I remember my one dokusan, being confused at how angry Roshi seemed, I just wanted her to like me and  Buddhists seemed so nice.
This pressure now on the back of my neck, my throat narrower than I remember, each breath working harder than the last to find its way out of the body.
Please, no more language about how we’re all saints, all sinners.
Sunflowers fill the cosmos, my heart expands to say yes again.
Why did the United States fight a Civil War, how did that war begin, who won, what happened next, how confident are you in your answers?
Jasper wonders if I’ve bothered to reflect much on the image in terms of pornography, and I tell him no, it’s always been about intimacy in a different register than porn is meant to manage.
He died, he is still dying, and I am dying too.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Gross Abattoir of the World

Can I be scared? The last time I carried a gun (fifteen years ago?) I watched half a dozen pheasants arrow away from me, one after the other over a couple hours, felt grief but also release – something about the light, something about the gold of their wings – did not lift the shotgun, never hunted again. 
A lifetime of understanding collapsing now, all the fields and rivers welcoming me to this way of being alive. Let us be dragonflies together!
Heildung songs, how did I get this far without them? I hear waves now, Zen bells signifying the end of sesshin, women weeping.
The ancestors watched me, the men urging me to kiss her, fuck her right there on the river bank, but beyond them was a white stag who met my eyes then walked into the forest, making clear the way required yet more solitude. Sitting down to remove my shoes.
Stomach pain arguing don’t even try to make it better. This vagabond of a heart wrapped in blue veils worn by Mary when Jesus was still a child, not yet sworn to redeem the gross abattoir of the world.
We lied to doctors growing up, the doctors let the lies stand, to this day I don’t trust doctors. Green Dragon tincture touched with lavender, want some?
The last time you took your clothes off for me. Emily Dickinson making a new kind of sense, clarifying that the old sense was basically an error, the old longing for companions overriding common sense.
Old sap buckets. Trimming back the raspberries.
Fried clams are no longer sustainable. Chrisoula agrees to let me wash her feet, we cry while I do, and after we make no promises, that is the marriage now, this is the way.
Try this: there is no such thing as a lie, only the truth from perspectives you have yet to consider. Soup and crackers, Agatha Christie, this little light more than enough.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

No More Grails

Try this: love has no opposite whatsoever. In Worthington, in the seventies, the fields were full of the blue lights of faerie, which saved me in a nontrivial way, which salvation I am ever carrying forward.
I want to work the word “rehabilitation” into a poem and can’t so fuck it, I won’t. David Bowie’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.
Letting go of fixation. We talk about flowers, all the ways they appear to us – in fields, in dreams, in art, in poems - and how grateful we are accordingly.
I’d rather be a comma than a semicolon. No more grails, no more gods: this is a law of the Aquarian Age.
Sailing up the Taunton River into Mount Hope Bay, we were all drunk, my uncle riding my father hard about the past, I was scared but also grateful to see he could be taken down. The face of the clock resembles the face of the moon.
Form is desire and desire, form. Going back to Brentano, then wondering why going back appears to matter when it no longer does, this has been clear since Cambridge 2017.
I will apologize to no one for loving Barry Manilow’s I Write the Songs, I was a kid when I heard it, what do kids know except that love is love and has not opposite. Star-gazing was not ruined by astronomy, but the stories we tell did change – and are changing – and this matters.
Waiting for the bus. Barns that are gone now save in memory.
We agree to drive to Chester and walk the forest trails we used to walk with Jake, those years before there were kids, those years when so much had yet to happen. Diner coffee, may I never forget to be thankful.
Jeremiah asks if I will make a Viking breakfast like in the old days and I do and everybody is happy, we sit around the table for an hour or so after eating, laughing and telling stories. My umbrella, my cock, my eyes growing dim like the night.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Back at the Beginning

Can I be softer then? Oneness is not an accomplishment, more like realizing how much you love everyone. Turkey vultures high overhead.
The prayer intensifies, I fall forward and pray into the earth, mouth filling with dirt, fingers clutching the grass, and this is not a metaphor. The blue light is me, I didn’t know this, thank you for showing me! So the loneliness is defensive mainly, interesting.
I remember Robert saying at the end of a session “that was a lot of hard work today,” adding, “you didn’t do too bad either.” This longing to see the sea. Certain graves, certain grievances.
I rise and forgive it all, not in the ACIM way but in the old school way of gazing into the eyes of the  oppressor and loving them by refusing every thought of revenge, anger or bitterness. Love is the moon in a bower of clouds, its light traveling through you, revealing you as a prism. It is turtles and chalices all the way down, until there is no longer down, and then it is Love.
Dylan’s Oh Mercy in the late eighties/early nineties, basically showing me how to hang on a little while longer which, God be praised, I did. Bears wake up in the forest, I wake up in bed beside Chrisoula, and Grandmother strides out of from between the stars to remind me there is no time left to fuck around. Of course he consented to the cross, how else was he going to demonstrate the powerlessness of death, jeepers do you even read?
Making love in the barn – basically a kiss that deepens and extends without plan or intention – the neighbor’s voices distant and pleasant, altogether a happiness. Suddenly all these widowers, as if the cosmos wants me to remember I don’t know the end of this or any other story. Rye bread loaded with caramelized onions and marinated lamb.
I grew up longing for a bed that could fly. Back at the beginning again, learning to make fires without matches.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Sin for which We Must Answer

Boundaries are not imaginary, don’t make that error. Kissing out back by the horses, slipping my hand under her shirt to feel the warm bones of her back. Those of us who grow up fighting. The hippies were happy and beautiful, and once in a while they told me secrets (like the sun was a star), and my life was changed accordingly. Mist everywhere, floating from the river through the pasture, the valley shrouded in wet silver.
This will have to be enough – how often do we say that to ourselves? There is no art to smoothies in my life – whatever fruits and vegetables are available get thrown in with garlic, protein powder and water, call it a meal. Dad visits, sits shyly near the apple trees admiring the horses, waving when I glance over, laid back in a way he could be but rarely was when alive. Plans to drive to the Cape, smell the ocean and re-home some rocks we took, back when we were the marrying type. One does not “spend” the night, though I stipulate at times it can seem so.
Removing my glasses, rubbing my eyes. The drive home is always happy, praying a rosary between the college and where Route Nine begins, something in the repetition making the crowded traffic easier. The oxen were Chianinas, they were impossibly large, and more graceful than you would think, stepping carefully towards us through the rain. Texting old friends, one last time in this life. Why does the moon insist on playing games with me, even at this late - and getting later – juncture?
How terrified of dying the chickens were, and how we killed them anyway and ate them, and will this, too, in lifetimes to come, be a sin for which we must answer? Clouds at dusk rimmed with gold light. We brag a lot about our capacity for design and engineering but I think often of the Titanic, our collective need to be humble and patient. Folks around whom I stumble trying to speak. Inner peace, that beautiful mirage ever shimmering in the distance.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

To Watch Someone We Love Crucified

In a dream Snow White passes, casually eating an apple. Suddenly all this green.
How glances travel, how we infer what we infer from them. Who will love the red blush of maple trees in early Spring on Sam Hill Road when I am gone?
The brook out past the horse pasture – the little one that loops the river – sings what can only be called a happy song at twilight. There is so much I have tried to make happen, and now I am just letting it go, now I am just letting what happens happen.
Overly-sweet coffee, a rare occurrence. Fish and chips at the diner, Friday afternoon before the dinner rush.
A lot of us have been crucified, but more of us have had to watch someone we love crucified, and this is another – a nontrivial – form of violence. When we agree on what we are wasting and on what to do to waste less.
Trout rising in the morning, how happy the man who once hunted them feels, now that he no longer hunts them. Healed minds don’t plan, which is so bonkers I can’t even think about it.
Tweaking a vegetarian burger recipe to include Worcestershire sauce. The bottom is falling out, nobody knows what to do, we’re going to have to get better at being helpful in local ways.
Neural connections inhibiting relationships. Certain letters, certain hopes.
The lure of this language grounded in our Saxon heritage. I only remember crying.
Gin and tonics in that street bar in Burlington, writing poem after poem, dizzy in ways that even now the art allows. It matters, knowing what a monster is.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Blunt Trauma of Et Cetera

Ah but as a child you did love the purple of the bruise, correlated it to thunder clouds, and thunder clouds to anger, which was always the bruise’s source, amen amen amen. Pancake recipes differ subtly, if you get close enough, go deep enough, and the differences become prismatic slits through which the cosmos flow like syrup, get it? On the other hand, let’s not argue.
The vows include nonviolence, nonviolence is the vow that includes the others, and against this promise to God the ego yet rages.
Listening to Led Zeppelin, remembering how briefly Jimmy Page’s playing fascinated me but Robert Plant's singing felt excessive and forced. The blunt trauma of et cetera in certain contexts. We are colorful, we are collaborators.
Everything is slow and measured until the end when we are together a breathless hurry. You can appreciate how your ancestors – I’m talking fifteen, twenty thousand years ago – felt a need to create and be in relationship with many gods. What is lost, ever?
The coffin offered what assurance to devout Christians? You come close to the flowing river, you do not enter, you remember being baptized all those many years ago. In my mind I am always walking up Ridge Road, and maple leaves are falling all around me in the cold air, and it is Halloween and there is this clarity – hard to explain, even now – that there is nothing to fear, nor ever was, nor ever will be.
Lamenting the old days, a production no longer at odds with Love, given how much we’ve forgotten that it wouldn’t hurt to remember. We are so confused about Rumi, poor Rumi, it must really make him sad, he must complain a lot in the corner of the afterlife where angels make him count rain drops. Corrections, cancellations, comedy routines.
Sarah calls, asks if we want to go in on turkey poults, which we don’t though later the rejection is hard to square with our overall food ethic. Morning stillness the coffee only enhances. All the pretty horses, including one who is blind.
All the folds of us, all the flowers, all the openings to which our throats must adapt.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Far Enough Up the River

You would what, if you could? I learned early what one learns by studying envelopes.
Nothing magic, nothing mundane. Early lessons in the futility of acquisition, losses I was unable to manage alone.
She runs to meet the bus, unaware I am watching her, her blue coat bouncing behind her in ways that make me think of capes, heroes, conflicts that we need not fear will be resolved. So much of what we depend upon comes out of the sky – sunlight and rain, answers to prayers.
Going far enough up the river together to go down on you without being seen. There is no such thing as “amen.”
Sunlight decanting into Quinetucket, a brightness as I drive over it in Sunderland, remembering how Dad and I used to canoe long stretches of it, which I did not love. Pain is a symbol that something has become misaligned - cries out - in the depths of you, 
This is not the catastrophe for which we prepared! Jeremiah takes over cooking the meat, asserting something I was not allowed to assert, I step aside quietly, gratefully, writing in the other room while he works in the kitche, little poems for my father, letting him know it’s all okay, it’s all going to be okay.

For example, I am not actually in an open marriage with chickadees but I say so to emphasize the intensity of love, my willingness to follow wherever it leads. Overtures, Overton Windows, easy bake ovens.
Blunt knives are no good to anyone. We come back to the question of sheep, everybody groans, but we have not yet reached clarity and so the wise among us insist we make the inquiry again.
Bruises are not art Sean, please stop playing with that harmful idea. I remember confessing in the little kitchenette in the Worthington town hall where in those days the Catholics held mass, and I remember feeling the penitential prayers after were too easy, and I did not connect this to a kind God who forgave readily but to priests and other adults having no fucking clue about how dangerous and beautiful and all-powerful was our Lord.  
So much scuttled now, most of it travel-related. Mountain ranges that are my spine another way.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Mothers Baking Bread in the Cave

Morning crows. Slowly the insomnia shifts, the dream world insisting on its healing prerogative. We visited the beach where bystanders apparently watched Icarus fall broken into the sea, and I remember nothing but feeling superior to pagans and polytheists, which makes me sad now, which sorrow I no longer resist. Visiting churches in Dublin, drunken mid-day prayers. This is not what you say when you are trying to find a way home, is it?
The witch is hungry, so you feed her, and it’s not enough, it’s never enough, because her hunger is a form of anger, and what she wants is not food but the death of those who torment her. Good news! I walk slower going up Main Street, hands in my pockets, head down, having what some people travel to Alaska to get. Prisms at the bottom of the sea, near the wreck of the Titanic. What we learned as kids, climbing high trees in the forest.
Oh the funeral is just the beginning, trust me. Dogs wandering around the bardo wondering why nobody is throwing sticks. This need to render everything blue, because my hippie aunt had a blue light in her bedroom, and I used to sit in its ambient glow, studying life-sized posters of Lord of the Rings, learning a useful lesson about the connection between conflict and narrative. Use your voice, he urged, and I mumbled something in reply. Lovely dreams of surfacing.
Our bodies become the site of living justly, mercifully, and nothing else matters. The hemlocks murmuring in pre-dawn breezes, emphasis on gratitude, acceptance, letting go and passing by. Become Christ by degrees. Sentences which contain many plausible readings, each altering the poem in which it appears, in which way the cosmos are made explicit. Let us not forget mothers baking bread in the cave, let us not leave our Dads all alone in the sky.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Call this Heart Amethyst

Sleeping through various alarms, yet another sign the cosmos are shifting in this weary body. Shivering at night by the river, searching for starlight in the passing water, same old dream as when I was little. Let love be our epitaph. Beyond where language makes any sense at all.
Butternut squash soup, chicken broth from the chickens, squash and spices from the garden, a true happiness. Shall I call this heart amethyst since that’s kind of what it is? The dialogues which gently conclude, the dialogues that nervously begin. Oh moon, you are always playing games with me, when I was a boy we were best friends, are you saying it's okay to begin again.
Telephones ringing in other rooms. A sentence lives complexly in ways lines can not, this was the revelation. There is no such thing as a bland landscape or have you forgotten what your knees are for. Birch trees in the distance, God’s bones.
Last of the coffee. There are, it turns out, additional vows which we take quietly in the hay loft, facing the windows in which apple trees soften in the roseate dawn. Wanting a simpler spiritual practice is not a crime. Warnings we are predisposed to heed.
My grandmother, my drinking, this drama I cannot avoid. Saint Jude pray for us. Distance was always the right guide, is it clear now. These lips and who they have kissed.

Friday, May 13, 2022

You Drift and Wonder Why

Where the heart should be a dense briar, bad medicine, confederate bills.

Yawning, tired at the wrong time, middle of the day, staggering around exhausted, confused by exhaustion, worried I am letting someone down but who, et cetera.

How as a child I enjoyed sewing classes, made a red stuffed octopus that I kept for years, no idea in the end what happened to it. 

This anger, my god, what has anybody done to deserve it.

I fell in love with a woman scooping ice cream at Ben & Jerry's in Burlington Vermont, 1986 or 87, everybody was like ask her out but that was never the point, the point was the poems I wrote about loving her at a distance, in other words, longing was the point, longing is always the point.

Roosters crying out in rain.

Editing this or another sentence nearly to death.

My body subject now to chronic stressors, not even sleep gets me away.

In dreams, three nights running, she comes to me naked and kisses me, the kisses are both ordinary and transcendent, and I wake puzzled and hard, and the puzzlement becomes frustration, why is this so difficult.

Dad making fun of Neruda's Residence on Earth, the title of course because he certainly never read it. 

Serving bad gods, doing their bidding without question, avoiding looking at consequences et cetera. 

In relationship with agitation.

I offer to drive her to Cape Cod, dreading every aspect of it but as always willing to die if that's what being a good boy means.

Laundry drying on racks in the hay loft.  

What becomes easier when we wade through warm shallows, not worrying about restless hungry sharks in the deeps.

In the old days I was often drunk in dangerous places, and people died with whom I drank, but I did not die, though I will, in time.

It takes a while to get to twenty sometimes, you go back and edit, you drift and wonder why you bother. 

Yes requires no somewhere inside of it.

We called it a game but it wasn't, it was more like a war, the origins of which were hidden from us, outcomes of which were never discussed, and yet one in which we were compelled to engage, even now. 

How far away we are, how lost.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Something Living in Me

We made a model of Big Mamie, later went to look at the actual ship in permanent dock in Fall River, and I felt claustrophobic and confused. So you got good at writing love letters, so what?
Light fills the upstairs hall, the floorboards warm and golden. We are the end of us.
Sitting quietly in the dark seeing how all the parts of my life so apparently disparate are aspects of a seamless whole. Evidence of toothpick use among Neanderthals, reassuring in a way.
Back when I drank, drinking while sailing. What was the name of that farm in Springfield Vermont that made such amazing cider jelly.
Heart, soul, spirit, et cetera. Classrooms to which one does not need to travel. 
Dad cared deeply about local native American culture, I don’t know why, he could go on for hours about King Philip’s War. Pine cones keep fallin’ on my head.
A last cup of coffee before driving home, the slow grind through downtown Pittsfield, the long slope of route nine. What is near vs. what is familiar.
Unidentified spiders in the basement. Kale and blueberry smoothies.
The specific challenge of working in a communal space. Suddenly I face my fear of God, I thought I finished this back in Worthington, lessons 79 and 80 of A Course in Miracles, but here we are.
We agree, no more outdoor fires, it spooks the horses. Trying the old Vox amplifier, grinning stupidly playing the opening chords to Highway to Hell, something living in me, something not unhappy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Anybody's Son but God's

Outside after dark, warm billows coming up from the pasture, through which one floats to the river. In what way is healing related to an argument? Drinking shitty coffee in a bowling alley, the past encircling all of us. Tell me again about Narcissus, issus?
How in winter the sun on fallen snow can blind you, this too is the road to Damascus. Dull ice in the forest where sunlight does not stream. Put your hand in my hand, lead me away from the war, teach me what it means to be love.
Caramelized onions. Getting my mouth washed out with soap, my mother’s hand on my throat holding me against the bathroom wall, her fury palpable, how scared I was I would die. How much of childhood was spent pleading!
Clouds lope like contented sheep across the hills. We bury the last of the chickens out beyond the pasture. You salt and pepper the eggs before scrambling, not after.
Cookbooks from the 1940s because who doesn’t need half a dozen kidney recipes. Laying down beneath the apple trees, drawing a deep breath, willing the Lord to agree with me, now is the time to go home. Imagine parties ten thousand years ago.
Somewhere along the line I forgot what it meant to be anybody’s son but God’s. Her voice is louder when she speaks Greek. Ripple effects.
Sweeping the stairs, going slowly, loving the mundane. This guilt, will nobody teach me how to live without it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Those Who Are Here to be Baptized

Wearing our years. If you study the forest, you see families of trees, you see paths everywhere. Light on dewy clover, this too shall be my epitaph.
The world opens and suddenly you are allowed to be happy, suddenly you cannot contain yourself. The river flows easily between the banks, and those who are here to be baptized are baptized. Even this sentence is predicated on what happened tens of millions years ago.
Memory in reverse. Choosing teams, never again. Father lightning, mother salt.
We rode the carousel, it was raining a little, you had about a year left to live and I couldn't handle it, I'm sorry. Miso happy. Jotting down notes on the backs of envelopes, what to buy later, who to call.

I wish we had at least tried to dance. Pine needles everywhere, the summer air redolent, love disappearing at the last picnic ever. Make it a double, and other things I’ve never said.
Cauliflower crust pizza, surprisingly delicious. Many of the peacemakers I know are as embedded in conflict as the rest of us, there’s another level we have to reach, and dialogue only gets you so far. Let us no longer ask anyone to die on a hill, not even this one.
How scared I am of hunger and other ways I learned to negotiate with witches. Secrets we keep even from ourselves, pretending it couldn’t have gone otherwise.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Love Breaking with Scripture

What if it’s all artificial. How we use the word “probable.” If my heart were capable of melting then I’d never be alone. Adapt!
Be virtuous? We trade text messages throughout the day, what the kids are doing, what the weather’s doing, what we’re doing. A dream of offering myself in some new way, not religious exactly but close. Parking lot suicides.
"Voices carry." Patty melts, what the fuck is wrong with my life I’m only just now making them? Men who shoot deer, men who no longer shoot deer, the price we pay for ambiguity. Whispering making love.
Breaking with scripture. Only Hendrix truly knew how to cover – because he knew how to translate – because he recognized the art - Dylan. Trying to be more open-minded, mostly failing, but still. And now I begin to make peace with the rats.
Men who saw the problem and named it and then stopped because they thought that was enough. Loose baling twine lost in loose hay. Apple blossoms, may I never forget to be thankful. This desire to begin again, Christ busting out of this coffin of a heart.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

A Sudden Influx of Prisms

Lifelong, yeah right. Morning passes working on poems, just not this one. A sudden influx of prisms, the mind insisting on symbolizing its fundamental nature.
Wading into the fire pond to smash the beaver trap. When we whisper in public, what are we implying about trust? Chrisoula hummed “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head” as we left the theater, light rain on our shoulders, the way forward settling faster than either of us had expected.
Peasant food, basically. My hands age, skin crinkly and loose, they remind me of driving in Vermont with my father. All judgment fails.
When we were cold, long ago. Jesus understood. Women who murdered snakes, wrestled sheep to the ground, cut potatoes by hand with the knife to their thumb, smoking each cigarette to the filter.
A preference for errors rather than sins, correction rather than punishment. I miss having friends, I really do. Amaretto coffee with cream.
How happy I was, briefly trembling with joy in the hay loft, the light a certain way, all the pains by which my body knew itself suddenly gone. Let us bow our heads and give thanks for gasoline rainbows. It’s a bridge, you cross it, what’s the hold up?
Waiting on what will be revealed. A rustling in tall grass, moonlight reminding you of what you forgot, all those many years ago.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Nurturing Grudges

My other question is why. Faint rose skies where the mountains blur. I left Ireland in a hurry, breaking a couple promises, nurturing grudges, full of sharp edges. In a way I was born in an Albany motel and died on a Vermont river bank. 
Bald eagles at rest beside the pasture, studying me study them, in no rush to leave. Men with limps, of whom I am now one. Chrisoula finds a pair of comfortable shoes at the shelter where she volunteers, brings them home to me. A crystal is starlight frozen in time.
Selah? Down on our luck, what else is new. I remember learning how to track, not caring so much about the hunting aspect, loving this new way a text appeared for those with eyes to see. We smoked a lot of pot on the shores of Lake Champlain, stars wheeling through the sky, talked about world peace, social justice for women, bread recipes, the end of shopping, et cetera.
Is this writing in your mind or on your tongue? When I can’t sleep I sometimes go outside and listen to the river. Distributing flyers for the Green Party, cold and wet after, the eighties finally ending. Jesus was always an ally, mediating between my broken heart and his difficult Dad.
A bench outside the cemetery on which I made mental lists of everything I was grateful for. Please don’t say dusk “falls,” it’s obvious that it's always here. We drive through Bennington without talking, the marriage entering its next phase without any need to explain itself. Francis Bacon and purple again, again.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Gone Before Anybody Noticed

In March, when snow fell, the trees were lace-covered, lovely. What does it mean to value a diamond? In the distance crows, and in the crows more distance.
Twenty some odd years after the wedding we agree we are not really the marrying type, which keeps us laughing for days. Something about when you were a child. Nobody looked closely at what was rising out of the brook, I was gone before anybody noticed, was marked and returned, and never felt the same about family again.
Icarus lands, he’s an addict now, he’s got liver cancer now, he’s got no place to go where they have to take him in. All the times my path crossed Jack Gilbert’s, somehow helping me sustain a critical honesty. This lack without which I would not be whole.
Mud season, lambing moon, dreams of an ancient Easter. Trying to tell a new story and failing. Never underestimate the value of amends.
In a dream I was a woman and I woke happier than I'd ever been, all the aches my body carries briefly disappeared. Let us reflect on Necker cubes. The priests in my early twenties who prayed for me, and for whose prayers I longed. 
The doctor says quietly it’s time to rethink caffeine and for once in my life I don’t instantly render a dramatic performance about how I’d rather die than go without coffee. I saw flamingoes once, didn’t really appreciate it, wish I could go back and see them again. Shadows gliding along the floor and walls of the cell.
Apparently it’s okay to move to Vermont, live on a hill, star-gaze and pray, until the body lays down. Hendrix at Monterey, complex griefs that remain in my mind for days after.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Happier than I've Been

Clusters of snowflakes falling, the hemlocks almost instantly draped. Augustine's great heart grows brittle and frail, and the need for a new analogy intensifies. In a dream I am a woman being given head, and I wake up happier than I've been in months. This is your brain on Robert Miles.

Afternoon in the hayloft, supposed to be working, but reading early versions of A Course in Miracles, happy in the way a text can make one happy. God is the light in which the universe appears, becomes legible, et cetera. Saturday mornings with Dad at the Lunch Box, breakfast before heading out fishing. Heart-shaped prisms. Yet ask: is there any such thing as a stranger?

Marks made in the dust while fools offer facile arguments. One comes to terms with the way alcohol decimated the family, wreckage that goes on giving. Pickerel in reedy shallows. Spam sandwiches with raw onions and warm beer, our hands bloody from the morning's work. Listening to the Dead and finally getting it: there's no ego, only a collective.

Fear is not a shelter though it can feel like one sometimes. We talk about Tarot cards, how to go about designing them, detour into what story do you want to tell, end up struggling to put into words how there is no teller anywhere. "Amen" is not the end. My death has accelerated, clearly, I have begun burning old journals accordingly. Figures disappearing in mist.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

No More Dogs in this Life

Honeysuckle blossoms floating in rain water pooled in the hoof prints of passing deer, on which I relied for far too long. The word “ridge” came up a lot, to this day I’m averse to it. You cannot escape Easter, thank Christ.
Who knows you best, would you say? My grandmother’s collection of salt and pepper shakers, half a dozen of which are on shelves in our kitchen, 1930s kitsch basically, which I cannot resist. Low ceilings in old houses, water-marked tiles.
I remember Dad falling asleep a few times while I drove him around southern Vermont at the end, how my breathing changed accordingly, how carefully I sipped my coffee. There will be no more dogs in this life, it is decreed and accepted, om shanti shanti shanti. Truth is neither near nor far, which oddly complicates our recognition of it.
Complex burial plans. It took me a long time to realize that letting go of my family was not the end of the world. Daughters who want no protection, the opposite actually, i.e., need you to be a man in ways you are yet learning to be, even at this late and getting later juncture.
Sentences saved my life. I cannot hear her voice anymore nor precisely see her face, and I am puzzled by this. Reminder that the absence of absence is a kind of presence, and that presence is a kind of emptiness.
Lessons learned in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Buildings constructed mostly of cement, how it feels to be inside them. Venus due South, Satan begging for another chance, wanting him to have it but knowing it is not mine to grant.
I was happy climbing trees but not happiest, that was reserved for rivers and the long walks through the forest to reach them. Border disputes, the whole reason we have to use the word “soul” at all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Death Near the Marigolds

You are not your name tag.
Hills in Italy rising steeply away from the train, rickety frames supporting endless grape vines, predictive in a way of the Greek mountain villages that would later factor so intensely into the marriage.
Caring for plants, that specific mode of being Christian, which she understands better than me.
How not knowing the language is not an impediment to being happy, what that signifies and how.
This new way of wreaking havoc, not disavowed.
She snuggles in the morning, indicating willingness, and I am grateful and happy, but also curious about the Latin root for "friend" so sex has to wait. 
I miss summer crickets and even more I miss being far away from the village center, the sky different when you aren’t navigating so many unwanted light sources, seriously, what the fuck is wrong with us.
A year now since I felled a living tree, that part of the soul that dies when the tree dies slowly resurrecting as spring comes on.
Open windows.
Fionnghuala’s art on display at the community center, her paintings growing darker now, as she begins to see the nature of the world and appreciate – without precisely understanding – how she is the one doing it, and how people are frightened of her, and the delicate dance of letting her be alone with her art and also saying hey, I am here for you, want to talk, et cetera. 
Otherwise craving an epitaph.
Remember talking to other farmers after church?
Cloudless skies an invitation to clarify this evolving relationship with blue.
Trying to make clear that there is no such thing as justified anger, justified violence, justified war, and failing over and over and over, because you have to live it in order to say it in a way the other will realize is true, and as of yet I do not.
Hard dreams from which I wake screaming, cats leaping from the bed while I thrash, Chrisoula leaning over me murmuring, hand on my chest to soothe my chaotic heart, bringing me back to where there is less – not nothing but less – to fear.
There is all this death near the marigolds, I will never be free.
Let there be butterflies!
My ongoing discomfort with authority, mine and everybody else’s, the source of so much tragedy in my living.
How clear I was so early about property lines and acreage, ours and everyone else’s, Dad teaching me – as all fathers do – that size matters, of course size matters.
Reading books on hay bales in the barn because my mother wouldn’t go there, hours passing in gold light, the filament hues of imagination. 

Monday, May 2, 2022

My Falling-Apart Body

Falling behind and getting ahead are the same problem.
Unable to sleep I get up and walk around the house shivering, the blue light everywhere, assuring me my falling-apart body is neither a problem nor a promise.
Study what generalizes.
Spring flowers in the meadows in my mind which is itself a kind of flower in a meadow or else why do we fall in love.
He says to let all the labels go, even man and woman.
Fionnghuala listens to my argument for going slowly with respect to adopting policies for transgender athletes in the NCAA and basically stops talking to me for two days, yet another woman in my life unafraid to call bullshit. 
Missing the moon when the moon is not there is also a kind of light.
Making out under the apple trees, the fire sputtering by the raspberry bushes, some night last fall.
What Paul understood about Jesus and how he came to that understanding, i.e., find your own road to Damascus.
Jenny invites Chrisoula and I to kirtan in Goshen and we go, of course we go, and driving home reminisce about the article I wrote for Hampshire Life about kirtan all those years ago, how it was the last piece of serious journalism before I began teaching.
Dark roads between forested hills.
Suddenly all these donuts, reminding me of that lovely Homer Price story as a young boy and being endlessly fascinated by the surplus, mountains of donuts everywhere, an abundance that I could not understand, being already forced into a complex relationship with hunger.
How do you learn you are a body?
Tara Singh said to truly see an orange was to wake up, and he also said that he wished he could have watched Jesus putting on sandals, and in this way helpfully integrated A Course in Miracles with Bhakti marga, the way of devotion.
Massaging the small of your back after entering you, waiting for the correct rhythm for thrusting to announce itself.
This is what it feels like to make amends, to bring a new order of peace into our living, and I like it, I like it a lot.
At two a.m. or so I reflect on my death, the anniversary of which always passes without my noticing, as Merwin pointed out.
Maybe read Hesse again?
A single maple leaf – brown and brittle – tumbles across the road, reminding me of how my life has mostly passed.
I was on the Titanic, saw the inside of Gary Gilmore’s cell, and asked John Lennon for an autograph, you? 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

This Terrible Secret that's Murdering Me

Chrisoula reminds me she identifies with hobbits, I remind her that hobbits like gardening but also drinking beer and getting high, to which she replies “I said what I said.” In a way, the wasps opened my heart, or passed through it the way light passes through a prism.
Chosen hemlocks. We are in this relationship with monotheism, reaching through the Christian catastrophe to Jesus (who comes into view when you are ready for Christ) to Judaism to star-gazing shepherds who were obviously – it’s obvious right – deeply confused about what was going on with men.
Rivers don’t ramble, they flow. The easy part is what again?
Working through the sentences under the watchful eye of a pale facsimile – though no less honored – of Emily Dickinson, as close as I’m going to get in this life. Imagine imagining a new God.
Ragged quilts tossed over my legs while I sit reading Mark’s Gospel, which is basically propaganda, and wondering what it is that goes so wrong in us, even those who were still – relatively speaking – close to Jesus. Turkey salad with bacon, how much do you love me now?
I waited for days for a sign I was to cross the bay and visit Castletownbere, the ancestral village, and no sign came, save the witch who let me ride her horse along the rocky Irish coast and later fucked me by a little fire. Funny how much ended up depending on my reading of Shogun.
What if upon death you do take something with you only it’s a memory, which would you choose? You’re breaking up.
Never forget that it matters how you say things, even more than what you say. Yeah you’re sexy but are you as sexy as an umbrella?
Growing up Greek factored into my thinking in nontrivial ways that were not anticipated. Telling lies because I can, I’m good at it, but also because I truly don’t know how else to keep this terrible secret that’s murdering me from the inside out.
Johnny Mathis songs in my head at odd hours. Who is keeping score and why, turned out be an important question I did not get around to asking until it was almost too late.