December 2019: A Dream

I dreamed last night that I lived inside a wave – a literal wave of water. It was frozen somehow – not because it was cold but because I was moving at the same pace it was. The effect was stillness. In the wave I was publicly demonstrating an holistic way of living. How to eat, how to grow what you eat, how to regenenerate the soil. It was kin to the 1970s biome we used to drive past in Amherst.  
Dan Gallagher was in there with me, and someone else who I knew but could not name. The three of us were making to leave – to step out of the wave back into the world – and nobody believed it could be done, but I knew it could be done, and I was ready to do it. I was the one who was demonstrating, this is the way that you do it.
This is how you leave Eden. This is how you begin the journey home. This is how you bring Eden with you.
As I rose out of the dream, I found myself asking Eric (who used to post at my ACIM blog a lot) “do you understand the distinction between phenomenology, ontology and epistemology?” And then saw with utter clarity that one can have a phenomenological experience but that they have to go slowly when building an ontology with or on it. And I remembered then the gentle insistence of von Glasersfeld, that ontology is not possible and cannot be justified under any circumstances. One can neither argue for the world nor against it. 
I lay awake for half an hour beside Chrisoula thinking, is that it? For it seemed so sensible – as if so much confusion arises from trying to force phenomenology into ontological frames, and trying to derive epistemologies from ontologies. 
There is an experience of oneness; how shall we talk about it? I mentioned this in passing to Chrisoula hours later and she said, well, didn’t the dream answer that?
Categorized as Essays

Dead Dogs Grew Less So: February Poems

January poems here. December here. November here. October here. February. . . 

Man, February . . . I don’t know what to say about February. Some long-standing engagements finally ground to a close, taking with them a lot of clock and rib. Sometimes walking felt like being followed by the ghost of a tractor or tripping unexpectedly into a photograph from the nineteenth century. A lithograph? A love note? My struggles with language grew less so, as if some hitherto-unacknowledged block to Love were finally being dismantled. It’s possible I’m still confused.
I saw God at an orchid show, brotherhood in melting icicles, love in a feral cat and healing in a handwritten sermon my father wrote in the early nineties. I was angry a lot and sad that I was angry and dialogic because I was sad. The dead dogs grew less so, as if some hitherto-unackowledged block to Love were . . . but I said that already.
I don’t remember when – October maybe, maybe November – I asked for another winter and got one, this one, and the current upshot is, don’t ask for anything else. Which, fair enough and thank you Jesus. A lot of the pain is chronic now, the writing and teaching less romantic and more urgent. If it’s over it’s over but if it’s not, maybe one more poem?
You want something from me, what? This came up a lot in my thinking, walking around the place, up and down dark roads at odd hours. Always trying to miss people save the few given to save me. You make the monastery and then you find your fellow monks and then it’s ora et labora as if life itself were contingent. Robert said gently several times we need to talk about food, and I would say “hunger,” “witches” and “1950s television themes” and he would say quietly, food.
It was like that. It wasn’t precisely that but like that. The heart keeps thudding but the journey does end. It’s okay but worth asking: when do you know? 
Categorized as Poems

Any Uttered Word

A prayer that includes the word “crustacean.” A spell that keeps bad men away. Explains why some men are bad at all? Well a night to ourselves anyway. A fire from which no body is excluded, and a woman who makes it so. Do you see the problem, do you understand my dilemma, do you. Bread not bombs, books not bombs. Roses in every moment as if beginning itself were familial, a beauty. What letter has finally arrived, what light is possible in which it can be read. I broke the promise, shuttered the church, I forgot everything except what pointed at family. Answered the call? Found my love in the hills, made love to her by a river. Locusts and wild honey until the real grail appeared, map made flesh, the territory greater than any uttered word. The crows say nobody cares about your sentences, the fox says write them anyway. Out back past the horses, professing, pleading, weeping. The cosmos neither for nor against us. And yet.

Categorized as Poems

Leaning to See

Moonlight on slick ice, so cold it hurts. Always this hurt, always this anger. Injustice everywhere. Not why but how. Gary Gilmore leaning to see the shooters, John Denver rushing at the sea. The dogs die and my loneliness grows vast and dense, like a garden nobody tends. Orchids are not a metaphor but sex must be?  What is allowed, what is desired. What is called forth. Your body a horizon my breath just catches. North north and west west. Even off the map with you I run into a limit. As if movement ends but never in stillness. On purpose? “Soul” is just a word of course but why. On my knees again before you, uttering with my foolish tongue a prayer the world forgot.

Categorized as Poems

Escape Plans

After the storm, after the marriage. After poetry and after women. After all this time. Letters arrive from a forgotten town in the interior indicating we are not yet finished learning what is true and what is not. Refuse then even mercy? Scratching escape plans on the walls of a prison in which you are the only jailer. Reading Freud (Anna not Sigmund) over coffee, taking notes for later. The psalms in Latin, John’s Gospel in Latin. How you look at me when I am trying to decide what trail to follow next. Crows on dead trees out past the river, their cries cold and sharp, like being guillotined in Paris in the eighteenth century. Forgetting as spiritual practice, i.e., remembering as an error forgetting is given to amend. After writing but not yet after speech. Dissolution begins with bodily death, not meditation or insight, remember this. After the map and after the territory. After sextants and travel. After a music one cannot find anywhere save alone in darkness on their knees. Bring what is sacred with you, I always do, so you say, you who never found a relationship you couldn’t desecrate with charming rhymes and semen. A cry in the heart growing louder and more insistent. From what can you not be separate? A space in which we translate everything from body to spirit, spirit to essence, and from there into beginning. A silence after unto which no syllable is worthy, unto which even the idea of worthiness is an error. I mean wordiness? Well, us anyway. Always us.

Categorized as Poems

Familiar Fire

I am lost again. At the beginning again? Well, emptying out again. 
Walking through heavy grass and patches of ash-colored snow to tell the horses I will no longer use them as metaphors, they say what they always say, where’s the hay, pal. Starlight before midnight, the sky is our shared heart, it is no longer possible to be unclear about this. Thank you for reminding me what matters.
A robin at rest on a maple limb tangled with bittersweet, a bluebird at rest on a rotting fence post at least two possibly three generations old. In a dream the bluets say I have refused them, I beg forgiveness, they say quietly – little kings, little queens – you know what to do. How tempting it is to enter the river, allow it to carry me where it will, to end where it ends me, without grief or clinging. Trying to make it clear to certain women that nothing can be lost, nothing losable exists, all because I am the one still confused.
Talking all day about the miracle of joy and peace, dancing all night in our moonlit bodies, making coffee at dawn to share with those who like us are out of time. Let us create the new world together, one that is fitting for our troubled sons and daughters. Say yes, always say yes, even if it means saying no.
After the prayer dims I go outside with cold tea to see if God remembers me. Five, ten minutes later the door opens and Chrisoula steps outside. It’s what, two a.m.? We don’t say much. We are trying to find each other in a dark place, darker than we knew existed but in which oddly even seeking is a comfort. It’s like the cosmos doesn’t abide separation. Undo your illusions! A cold wind blows down Main Street, our shoulders touch, and the old fire – the familiar fire, the home fire – rekindles. For a little while longer my travels and wandering do not mean I am alien.
For all this and more – much of which must pass without reference, there are no words and there is not time – not inquiry any longer but thanks. 
Categorized as Poems

Stillness and Hunger

The river flowing under banks of ice, silent and dark, without intent. Fionnghuala’s art gone beyond what is familiar, what is childish ending in an angel the cosmos invites her to wrestle with all the long night. Forgive me, child, I did not know the way out of Eden, I gave up too early, I built a mansion where a cottage would’ve done. Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists. Is that it? Is that the poem? Currents of which I am merely an eddy, a spiral braid of the cosmos briefly naming itself? Birth is always a celebration, death only sometimes, why, because there is only one mother. A class of being in which non-being does not factor. Sometimes driving west I become a pine tree and realize how mistaken I have been about stillness and hunger. Ease with language – must this too be released. Kate suggest a trip to India, a walk up Arunachala, I tell her I’ll run it by the telepathic effluorescent octopus the mushrooms showed me in lieu of God. When in therapy you no longer need to discuss your father, that’s when. Not happy so much as unanchored, how else do we recall the flow we both long for and are. Is it possible I am mistaken about this capability to name literally everything? In the morning a crow cries and decades later the answer is given. This this, amongst other things.

Categorized as Poems

Second Chances

At some point I stopped even wanting second chances. Bloodied my knuckles on the world not for justice but so that suffering might continue unabated. Truman and Hito are my brothers, the camp guards at Dachau are my brothers. My god my god why did you forsake me, did you forsake me. 

Sleeping on the couch again, passing each other in the kitchen again, kindness masking the radical healing we neither one of us know how to manage. Wordiness is being, dialogue is being, okay then, what is non-being? Falling to my knees not in prayer or surrender but defeat. Whatever has to end in me Christ let it end in me. Not one more step through this godforsaken valley alone. Please. 
Oh look, there’s the moon again. There’s the blind horse walking slowly through the pasture again. 
Yet another poem only you know how to read again. 
There are no flowers around here in February. Rosary prayers don’t work anymore. The poor stay poor, the rich get rich. The frozen lake groaning at dawn, our tracks all over it like scripture.
This ice, it does not last forever.
Categorized as Poems

Not a Bad Life

Waking early to kick the furnace, make coffee, mutter and stretch. Not a bad life – is that why suddenly I don’t want it to end? Pace crusty snow in starlight, the indifferent stars, wondering how come nobody told me it’s all okay? Moonlight whispering maybe because you knew all along? 

Why do I have to do so much of the work alone, and what else am I not allowed to say aloud? Listening to Blood on the Tracks with Jeremiah driving west, happy in a way that for most of my life was mysterious, alien, or plain inaccessible. Deer in the far field, crows in trees, perched on guardrails. Near the Windsor line a mostly-crushed fox. John Prine sings summer ends so sweetly I choke back “no shit.” Bitterness becomes you, be gone. Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists. 
What happens in the middle, what is balanced, balancing, what balances. “You don’t have to be alone/just come on home.” What happens when you say what you know? Wapnick telling everyone be true to your own truth. What happens when you stop cycling through crucifixion/resurrection? Karma is a cat, remind me again what the collective is. 
Pretty skies at dawn. Horses with frosted faces nudging the gate for hay. Heart breaks, heart heals, Love holds everything. What did we have at the beginning that we no longer have? A love that is impersonal, vast, that is the absence of exceptions. Including the exception of us at the beginning? For once not dreaming, for once not waking tireder than when I went down. Clouds bunched on the horizon like roses, gold filament, black bears rolling over in the cave. 
My steadfast Eve, our exhausted Eden. I work hard, who knows this, who helps. Chrisoula cries past where the fire goes. At last it is clear. Study zero, see truth, be not confused about love. Love. 
Categorized as Poems