Indecipherable Scrawls

Last night the moon was blurred by rain clouds, and a soft wind made whispering sounds in the hemlocks. It takes time to forget what never happened, much less forgive what did. When I was fifteen and drunk I would wander through the forest with a shotgun my father bought me. Men who raise boys who are not scared of witches. Imagine wanting a world without me, imagine working to make it so. Childhood a coffin I only barely escaped before they dropped it in a coffin-shaped hole. Cats in the afterlife readiy crossing over. Walking in circles out back, midnight or just after, praying the wooden bead chaplet K. gave me in a hotel outside Boston. Owls on the far side of the river remind me how near we remain to ancestors who accepted being haunted. Indecipherable scrawls otherwise known as my soul. And later we sit together at the table, reading and writing over day-old coffee, the deepening quiet regenerating in us what is ancient in us, as if Love cared only for remembering us as one.

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Winter in a Dying World

I haven’t been alone in a long time. Hurt, yes, and guilt-ridden, even sometimes happy in the goofy way I can be happy – thanks Gilligan and Scooby-Doo! – but not alone. Moonlight on what remains of winter in a dying world. Everything was destroyed in a Boston hotel room and I’ve been climbing out of the wreckage ever since. Your crucifix or mine is a romcom I don’t wish on anybody. Would you believe I found my shoes in the coffin my father hid his childhood in? When nothing matters you realize what matters and then adjust your life accordingly. Here are some crumbs, here is a trail, here are the women you will leave, and here are the women you will not, ever. Tell me another story! Burning dried rose petals from old relationships, mixing the ash with cannabis flower, and smoking it all out back by a little fire while the river sings an ancient song we’ve mostly all forgotten. These sentences are useless and the one who writes them is a fool, sure, but also, Love holds everything. You can see it that way if you want. Imagine leaving the ruined city and finding your way across an even more ruined landscape to a little homestead in a valley full of sheep and goats, starlight and lilac bushes that reach the second story. Imagine a blind horse calling you into your life at five a.m. daily. All these love letters sent by the cosmos! All these hearts confusing themselves with something that can break.

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Distances We Readily Bridge

Moonlight on the bedroom floor, just after midnight, briefly I forget who I am. All I ask of you is a little doubt, a little gentleness, and maybe a little humor. Remember pipe smoke? Marbles rolling across cracked cement in 1972. Sidling a shiny black piano, remembering a time before the end of time was possible, and nights playing alone in Vermont. Always ask who accompanies who, always refuse to tolerate loneliness. Shedding clothing, lingering at the light switch, enjoying the distances we readily bridge. Slowing down to give roadside crows a chance to hop off the median, turning slightly to avoid crushing the possum whose fresh carcass they’re picking. The holiest relationships are not without pain. What is worth remembering? Your hand in mine as we face the garden, inviting Isidore to bless us all and what we grow.

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All the Turtles Came to the Surface

Moonlight sparkling on frost on fallen hay outside the barn. May I never forget to be thankful. It was a rehearsal just not the way you thought? Crying a little driving away, how beautiful she is in the kitchen before dawn. There is no justice like the justice of our love.

And begin. One never actually leaves the Catholic church, though one may say they do. The blind horse cries out when he hears footsteps on the back porch. Smoke streaming from the neighbor’s chimney. My father’s coffin was not the cheap one he asked for but it’s okay, we don’t bury the dead for the dead’s sake.

We who catastrophize. I wonder if Ty Cobb is resting in peace? You have to leave notes for those walking with you, and possibly for those coming later. The ox was enormous, the Ganges taking form before me, inviting me to follow it out of the world. The sorrow we feel, and the joy.

Walking down Main Street after dark, garish lights and the smell of smoke. When you know you know he said and I never asked the obvious next question. That kiss is now thirty years old, the one in which all the turtles came to the surface to bless us, at Her behest. Oh make me some pasta with cheese and olives, maybe some bread, I’m hungry but not for anything fancy. The promises we make and, here at the end, the one we did not break.

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Decanting into the Cosmos

I do not remember who I spoke to last. Even the stars will not reach the end of it.

What helps? Lady Macbeth on her way to the gallows.

On the outskirts again, looking in from the outside again. Walking a long way in the snow just to be reminded we are here in part to bury the dead.

In Advent I grapple only briefly with the parabolic birth narratives in Matthew and Luke, move on to the darkness the Christ is always up against. Nothing better, nothing worse.

Decisions about which analogy to deploy. Talking with Chrisoula about Cat Bohannon’s ideas about midwifery, basically distracting her from worry and fear.

When I learned that prisms were everywhere, you only had to look. In a dream, a white ox passed before me as if emerging from the Ganges, and the gratitude I felt and the awe.

We are what else, there is no crisis. Not the body, not the body’s thoughts, not even the gaps in the body’s thoughts, therefore not what passes for self-awareness.

How happy I am when the Christmas tree leans on the porch, before we take it in to be decorated. Notes for later, as if time were real.

Sunlight on the slope of hill in the distance, may I never forget to be grateful. All those carols framing the season in darkness and light, pointing to what.

Emptier and emptier, as if decanting into the cosmos. Finding our way into prayer together, our little valley homestead frozen in snow, our errors forgiven, our shared heart bound in tangles of bittersweet and pine.

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Alone is Faintly Sweet

In a dream, a white ox passes before me as if from a river, bright as the sun, at once both gentler and stronger than anything else I know. Who says prayer is futile. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.

Starting in the car in cold darkness, a faint glow where far hills await their eclipse of light. Swami Tyagananda writes back saying “I am not sure what you mean by ‘independent.'” I am getting to it, whatever it is, may even as we speak have gone past it.

What shall I call you, you who defy all names by being each and every one? Grated orange peel and nutmeg, the kitchen is delightful for hours, even breakfast alone is faintly sweet. Warning others not to slip on the back stairs.

How beautiful she is in a ladderback chair by the bedroom window, gazing south, briefly a source of light. There will, as my brother Gary, pointed out, always be a Meersman, and late but not too late, I understand the gift implied therein. Happily drawing another breath.

One hesitates before removing their clothing, knowing what happens to the thread of discourse when we are naked. Notes to whomever is listening, if anybody is listening, no sense of alarm either way. Skim ice reaching out across the pond, like scrimshaw or the lines they draw between stars to make clear the bear, the hunter, the dog, the twins.

The insomniac dresses at two a.m., goes down to the couch, playing the old trick of “I’m a hobo,” which worked so well in my early twenties but doesn’t anymore, so well. The space that opens beyond what ACIM narrowly calls “the ego,” which framing was helpful but not as helpful as now. Buying chocolate is a signal, did you really think I wanted candy?

Women I want to help, women I just want. In a dream I remembered you love me, and woke happier than I can say, and later wondered how I knew and remembered all day that you love me.

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When I Begged

Dawn is not my guru but still. Frost everywhere after yesterday’s rain, mist rising off the river, bisecting the valley, a softness I cannot bear.

And stand quietly beside the barn and just gaze, give attention, whatever. There is so much beauty everywhere. But when I was little I learned that what is beautiful is fragile and therefore what you allow yourself to love will always die, usually brutally, and sometimes at your hand.

Oh, I am a lonely man in a lovely place, that’s all. I cannot reach the bottom of the suffering, there is always another layer or level, and I’ve stopped believing in God.

The coffee grows cold in the ceramic mug, is another way of just saying, hey, it’s all okay. Crows cry in the distance, I think something is changing in the world to bring them closer, and I study them carefully, wish we shared a finer language.

Sleep is hard again, painfully so, and the days are hard because of it. Fatigue clips the ability to read others in social settings, go with the flow, let little things go, I’m stumbling all the time. I’m angry now because as a child I was not allowed to be?

Will you be my therapist, will you be my mother, will you be my lover and other questions that did not resolve the fundamental dilemma posted by separation.

Dead men in the afterlife growl at me and hiss, you’re just like us, you’re going to die alone. Half goat, half snake, half shovel. To which I say mildly, maybe. Savannah and I talk about fantasy as a defense against the present, how hard it is to see and accept this, what our lives would have looked like otherwise. This shared history of never quite catching up with the Buddhists, never quite saying no to the Catholics.

Yeah, I hear rumors there are answers and solutions too. Better ways et cetera. Light beyond the far hills growing brighter, legs working a while longer. You can imagine it if you want, not me.

I drive the long way to work, just to pass a pond that’s been frozen since late November, I want to know what happened to it in the rain, what happened was it melted but it’s still darker than anything I’ve ever seen and still as if it were frozen.

What am I doing here, when can I leave. What do you say, you who chose to never speak, even when I begged, even when I cried and pleaded, curled in a ball on the floor tasting blood.

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Everything Dear is Spiraling Away

What will not be today? Waking early happily, then remembering the sentence, then praying and getting to work. Rain falling on all my errors, wash away the sins of the world. Studying the garden in December, sharing a coffee, it’s come to this. Shortening days, little light. We don’t say much in the kitchen anymore, everything dear is spiraling away, you can’t cling to anything. Men who listen but don’t hear, men who leave but call it staying. Jesus couldn’t be clearer: you want psychological comfort but won’t go deep enough to get it. Shit happens. In what book was your name written and later erased and how do you know. Driving past the cemetery, not stopping. This time.

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The End of Decoration

No stars, no moon. Sitting on the back porch listening to traffic on Route Nine, a quarter mile or so away. Slowly the body reveals itself, mist rising off the pasture. Quarks and muons or else grass which last week was hidden by snow. Fathers in the afterlife reminding us to look for tracks everywhere. What is lost forever and what cannot be lost, ever. The external dissolves upon examination of the boundaries comprising it. Pushing myself into the parabolic narrative of Jesus’s birth, undoing both manger and crucifix in order to arrive at the end of decoration. Do you know your mother? Light of dawn, bawling sheep, the blind horse stamping to let me know he’s waiting. I was ten, a child, when I learned God was a construct that could be helpful or unhelpful, which meant it was not helpful. Gathering hay, wishing it had come to something else. Dogs in the afterlife not requiring forgiveness are the blessing now. Chrisoula holds me while I cry, the many forces of the cosmos coming together in our shared darkness. Tears are the shallows of a vaster grief. So much hinges on the observer. Driving away in the rain.

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Volcano Bleeding

When Bridget was taken away I stopped trusting my parents and God, everything comes back to this.

Later I memorized the color yellow.

The family of you never forget your first prism.

Christ equals Atman.

Relationship is the mnemonic that takes us back to the experience of Truth and Beauty – of the Order – of the lawfulness and perfect neutrality of Love.

What is grace or did I ask that already, do you know.

The daily practice is to make space to remember my pain is the same as everybody else’s pain.

There is no blame in it, only hurt, for everyone.

So much comes back to the dogs.

From the cosmic to the atomic – all the way out to the Big Bang, all the way down to the quark – what we discover and remember is that all things are connected.

Crows at dawn, may I never forget to be grateful.

And the crescent moon at dusk low on the hills behind Matthew’s house.

The reaction of our brothers and sisters to us teaches us whether we have willingly offered the Holy Spirit all the suffering there is to offer in us.

Anger is repressed, and the repressed returns, like a volcano bleeding lava out its sides.

My spirituality has always tried to be intellectually responsible, but its roots are in a childhood that was impossibly sensual, and remained so for a long time, and I am the man that alternately blissful and traumatized child became.

Unseasonal warmth affecting my coffee addiction.

I am interested in the idea that Jesus was a performance in a context, a historical performance in a historical context, and that we can know some things about that context.

Let go does not mean let be gone.

It is important not to fantasize – either about dramatic positive changes or about punishment and retribution – with respect to the other.

For all its flaws, thinking deeply and writing as a spiritual practice has brought us to the realization of God and Love and Heaven, words that to point to our shared creative potential in our shared and creative Cosmos, so, you know, begin.

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