Friday, September 23, 2022

All the Family Shoes

You once asked why I was the Man without Shoes, the answer is because my great-grandfather hoarded all the family shoes. Hurricanes have no mercy.

We drank beer mostly, the one time it was gin and tonics Denise made them for us in a thermos we shared, standing knee-deep in Lake Champlain, I was never that happy again, I don't regret anything that happened since, I forgive it all. Hemlock trees are never not in my prayers, chickadees forever in my mind. 

Burlington in mid-Fall, our shared heart so bright and livid even the moon is compelled to genuflect. Cape Cod wind chimes, the past is forever a melody recreated in the present.

How happy I make others sometimes, as if the stories about me being broken and bad were just wrong, totally deeply entirely wrong. Imagine not liking your father.

Will trains last? I am focused on one last winter, nothing else matters now.

My taxidermied heart, my skinflint soul. A bridge away from death one built in their early twenties, made mostly of poems by suicidal women.

Lifetimes cutting cigars on the devil's train are finally gone, may I never cease to praise the Name of Jesus. What happens behind the church does not stay behind the church.

Used to get drunk and wander for hours at night, sober thirty-five years, still wandering around in darkness, star-gazing, happier than the odds once suggested was possible. Spent a lot of time swimming through wrecks of ancient ships trying to find something that wasn't skeletal, eventually surfaced, returned to shore.

Kneeling at Emily Dickinson's grave, hopeless and helpless in mid-September, i.e., how long does it take Gabriel to blow that fucking horn? This train is bound for glory - yeah, sure, whatever.

Framed pictures of the wedding in our bedroom make clear we have not yet gone beyond the marriage but let's not give up just yet, I feel lucky and there's something about this place. Fell shy of love, got back up and tried again, this is what I want, this is my only function, om shanti shanti shanti, alleluia alleluia.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

I Don't Remember Agreeing

Monarch butterflies passing by the goldenrod, we are all going somewhere. What is the relationship between hunger and love?

He visits in the bright middle of the day to remind me the way will not be easy but also it's too late to back out. Something happens far away - two thousand years ago, say - and all the fear of it is here. 

Towering hemlocks may I finally learn what these hands and arms and eyes are for. Sailing over the landscape in Lukas Geer's hot air balloon, the old dream of never having to give up dreaming.

Screw any list of guitar solos that does not include the final one in Sultans of Swing. Something went wrong early in my life and it turned out there would never be a fix, who knew.

The new therapist asks why do I insist on finding ways to argue I should be punished and we both know the answer but only one of us has the courage to say it. Geese in the distance, everything ends.

No more highway blowjobs, I don't remember agreeing to that but okay. We hang a Happy Birthday sign together, we don't know ourselves anymore outside of characters and narratives we didn't write.

I mean how much more rapture does one really need? When licking you was like licking marble in clouds of falling ash. 

It made me happy watching the turntable, it taught me something important about forgetting. "More mushrooms" cries the Man without Shoes, whose feet are now clad in Steve Hamlin's higher-priced clown shoes.

Mothers and Others, may I never forget to be grateful. Needy magick. 

That little farm in Vermont we could've bought but didn't, all to end up in these prolific gardens a stone's throw from the river, thanks Jesus, thanks God. The guy whose favorite poet is Emily Dickinson, whose favorite novelist is James Clavell, who invited that guy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Love Itself Immolating

A little moonlight on the floor, apparently Jesus never gets tired of showng me Love Itself.

Remember the Country of Turtles, how one kiss became the cosmos, and the cosmos this: this this?

Sex is just power playing with itself until you see how it is actually communion, i.e., Love Itself entangling with Love Itself. 

Digging potatoes with Chrisoula, stars coming out, fingers cold on cold spades, finally the wedding reaches the marriage.

Deconstructing old loves so as to forgive familiar errors. 

Under the ferris wheel looking up, was there ever any doubt?

Saturday morning waking early for chores then brewing coffee while the kids argue is "parer" a word and then going upstairs into the sunlit bedroom to write, this.

Flirting with disaster, who's kidding who.

West-facing hills on which mile-long bands of white pine are dead. 

Sifting through hatred to reach the fear, offering the fear to her alchemizing love, om shanti shanti shanti. 

Leaving Albany forever because Jeremiah taught me that all along Love Itself was my companion

Falling asleep under a blue blanket, thinking of Mary crying at her son's execution. 

Everything we look upon because there is nothing to look upon but Christ. 

Be mind.

She smiles when I knock on her office door, something frozen in me softens, my heart weeps a lake onto her feet.

Friends who became teachers, teachers who became lovers, lovers who became symbols of Love Itself, immolating every relationship but one. 

Walking around the back yard at night, slowing down when a skunk lumbers by - hey brother - staying out until the quarter moon crests far hills full of deer and other dreamers. 

I tell him about the time my mother threw a knife at me and he refactors his internal model, may I never forget to be earnest.

How sometimes we stop working, smile at each other in shadows sinking into the garden and say, "hey, remember when the summer sky was full of swallows?"

You don't read these poems Chrisoula and yet they are all for you, and it doesn't matter you don't read them, I will write them for you until I die, I will write them for you when I am dead, I will write them for you until you say "rise brother into the new Heaven we make together rise." 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The One who Refused the Wings

You never read my poems and yet you are the one who made this life safe enough to write them.

Unmade bed, are you thinking what I'm thinking.

Gathering goldenrod for the neighbor's goats, leaving some for mid-September bees.

What I won't do for certain women.

We sit quietly watching the moon between maple trees just beginning to turn.

He asks me to be in my body in a way I find terrifying but I try, for him I try, as we both know only another man can truly understand this particular fear.

Cartoon demons, watercolor angels.

It's all forever now!

Learning with K. it's okay to let certain lessons go, it's okay to be happy and free.

Once I decided to no longer be lonely, the brief moments of solitude became diamantine, a light piercing it from all directions at once.

The hay loft becomes a chapel in which sex is gently forgotten in favor of communion.

At an early age I swallowed a compass, how else do you think I managed the difficult landscapes I was forced to live in like a rat? 

Oh Fall River thank you for existing for without you I would not have understood how deep and slow the River of Beauty truly is.

Not Icarus after all but the one who refused the wings and then cried a long time on the beach watching his father fly away forever and his brother die, crashing into the sea. 

Who or what is behind this, I want to say thank you.

Suicides whose calls I did not return in time, forgive me.

Made feral by a mother who had seen more of hell than one would wish upon an enemy, and a father whose eyes were stolen by a decades-old hurricane. 

Chrisoula knits while I read Sarah Hrdy, now and then reading aloud this or that sentence, may I never forget to be grateful.

Coming to terms with Tara Singh again.

There is only one love, thirty years after the wedding we reach at last the marriage, and even then, even then. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Suddenly Swathed in Gray

We stood together near the stage watching Mike Campbell play guitar - scarecrow-like, excellent still - and several times I touched Jeremiah's shoulder and he turned to smile at me, a man with whom I do not need to assume any pretense, and in this way something about Albany changed forever.

Who or what is behind all this.

Crows before the sun rises, heading north.

It seemed there was a path that involved painting once, it seemed there was a dream of getting something just right, where "just right" meant creating an image that conveyed a feeling rather than any technical accuracy related to how things actually appear. 

People ask why the rose became so ubiquitous an image and symbol - practically bereft of meaning at all according to Eco - and the question strikes me as a failure for the answer is quite simply: look.

Early evening, between sips of the last cup of coffee ever, a heaviness settles on the valley, and the soul - which lately is attuned to the throat chakra - is suddenly swathed in gray.

Images and ideas I would rather not put into a sentence, or the same sentence anyway, and so do not (but did in a previous sentence - can you see which one).

Vision in the right eye slowly failing, a haze descending as if an angel were gently lowering its wings.

This is not the sentence I meant to write, this is the sentence I actually wrote.

Walking in Albany again, all these years later, remembering the past, and letting it go.

We were broken, that was why.

As if praise were not enough.

Getting curricular.

We pause beneath the hemlocks, we draw chairs and talk about the kids, we talk about moving, about cutting back the berries, we talk about what we are becoming together now we are not trying to become anything else.

The void giveth and the void taketh away.

Remembering William Kennedy's novels, how hard it was to get Dad to appreciate them, how I read them endlessly for years, delighted with the prose, the familiar characters, and always the untiring romance. 

We who are refused over and over - denied entry unto the temple, not allowed to touch his robes - pushed away and rejected - whose dreams are fed by wild angels, emissaries of a God who has not yet decided is He interested in our salvation.

Obedience, who knew.

Getting to know the narrator, going slowly so not to spook him, that path.

And will there be another snow storm, now I have been granted another winter in which to stand quietly in quiet forests amid all the snow falling in all the cosmos?

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Lost Children in Previous Centuries

Okay, I give up, why do we die? Burning straw dogs, the ruins still smoking after dawn. After rain, sunlight in the lilac, and after sunlight in the lilac, moonlight. Obligate sexuality, who knew. 

How do we recognize sentences? Here is the secret to happiness, you are related in nontrival ways to apples. Death and sex are intimate, let us not live elsewise. Chipped bricks falling off the chimney in high winds.

A deliberate choice to speak of "cosmos" rather than "universe," sensing in the decision something promiscuous, risky. The body is a site of negotiation between agents trying to remember how to cooperate. Chess, too, is a helpful metaphor - why. Spank me.

Hours pass or seem to. Once I was a lake, once I was a woman who could walk on water, once was I was a child who spent many years swimming through the wrecks of ancient ships. Chris Fields' point that "biology is all about recycling." I cannot bear another horizon. 

Licking semen off the fingers of the seraph who gave me a handjob in the pantry. Seams in the poem where understanding appears. We are together a response to the cries of lost children in previous centuries. A leaf falls, Chrisoula reaches me, I will see another winter.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Back When I Was Still Pretending

She visits in a dream - a desert, we are very poor, we have no right, we are meeting far from our homes - and says "longer sentences, please."

Driving into Albany with my son, the moon shrouded, my head full of memories I want to share with him, how I have loved three women, made a life and family with one, cannot always find myself in time, and want nothing anymore but this. 

Falling asleep with the taste of her in my mouth.

The heart is a useful metaphor but must be deployed intentionally hence my poor use of it as such, I am what is led by language not the other way around. 

In the distance the city was colorful, we were both relieved to see it, and I remembered driving through it with Denise in 1988, not wanting to let go of her hand, I was so happy, I was so happy and knew I would never be that happy again, and the knowing did not impair the happiness, and thirty-five years later it still does not. 

Remember making love on futons in hottest summer, going out after to drink gin and tonics on North Beach, stars falling one by one into the vast lake.

Sad Jesus walking in a meadow full of cattle who are only weeks away from being slaughtered.

This is my heart when it remembers you, this is my heart when it forgets.

Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Suurya-Kotti Samaprabha / Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa.

Near midnight, lost.

Chrisoula comes back from her pottery class happy and laughing, and something in me is lifted and lightened, and something else - hurt and angry since before this body was born - goes away to plot in secret against love.

Ways to see it does not matter, what happens or does not happen, ways to see that even suffering is not suffering, only saying so is suffering.

We share a joint near dawn - everyone else fallen asleep, embers only, instruments set aside - and our knees touch and stars settle in the lilac, one after the other after the other.

Pushing the canoe out and then - possessed by who knows what - not climbing in but swimming behind it to the center of the lake, cold in the cold water, apparently needing to be closer to what is dark than the surface will allow.

Loneliness, not solitude, has been my path, please God let me not pretend otherwise another day.

On the back roads I remember absence. 

Oh I would leave this body to all the hungry dogs, I pray their hunger does not last much longer. 

Poets I read who cut me, carved me into a specific site of loss and grief, sex and writing, joy forgotten and joy remembered, who opened in me an intensity and awareness that is all the treasure there is.

Light rain all afternoon, part of which I sleep through, waking to the phone chiming (a three-word text from Jeremiah), and a headache that was laid on me back when I had enemies, back when I was still pretending I wasn't full of hatred and anger. 

He says quietly there are no bargains, you must love and you must let yourself be loved, and you must live in the world this shared - this difficult but shared, thus this beautiful - loving brings forth.