Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Invisible Middle


Writing at the end of the day - as opposed to the beginning - produces lists as opposed to what?

Can I say truthfully that I have never not had time to write?

What is writing anyway?

Where is silence?

Are chickadees birds or is that just our agreement?

Who wrote "The dog is curled on the bed 'in the shape of a button'"?

Narrative effect or narrative collusion?

Why doesn't you ever write to me?

Why don't you?

A private agreement that over time becomes public and even acceptable.

As opposed to the vital - the very much living - welter perhaps?

She does write, sometimes more than is helpful, but who cares?

What do we want from writing?

I have no desire to write.

What do you mean when you write interior?

Do you say that writing is a job or writing is a sacrament or that writing is the invisible middle?

What are crows?

How come you never do what I expect?

Who stays when the writing is over?

That's what I want to know.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

That Lovely Unfolding

One writes one is tired and so one is. At last a walk in the moonlight, at last the silvery pines. Near hay bales brushed with snow he remembered the storm that was coming - word of the storm I mean - and an old student who had not enjoyed his class. Let us watch a movie, a helpful one.

Scallops and green beans and later a local whiskey. "The team that wins is my favorite." Memory moves us in a way that photographs cannot but still we insist on cameras and why. The bows of the Pequots should not have been forsaken.

Over chess we discussed Henry VIII's marriage difficulties and then - as always - how one is supposed to integrate Gandhi into anything. Bullets fly, in a way. She calls herself a deadly Scrabble player. While later still you fell to your knees and in the light of that space - that lovely unfolding - I grew attentive indeed and after nearly wept.

Nearly is not helpful, not at all. Robert Frost recalled out where the pond was just visible and just as quickly discarded. While on the stretch of road we walk - the only risk of traffic we face at that hour - I owned that I was Emily's equal in language but not insight - especially psychological though spiritual too - and then laughed out loud, a real belly laugh to the stars. Christmas always results in a stomach ache of sorts.

One writes instead of sleeping and soon enough comes to regret. To woe? I remember the goats I slaughtered and how unsatisfying that was, that meat that way, and how hard I cried after the kids were in bed and how you held me so. And is this - was that - what you wanted, my dear?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Our Current Confusion


Recovered writing (remember that). I woke to fog and snow, a perceived simultaneity that for some reason spawned a peace that lasted - so far - close to ten hours. Later, kneeling on the zafu, grateful for the many flaws - here and elsewhere - of which I am aware.

Our trip to the New York shrines was helpful though it took many months to see that. That chipmunk darting around the church's cool interior made me happy. Messages abound because we wouldn't have it any other way.

I don't recall what gift I gave which perhaps explains our current confusion. She disappeared and only sometimes returns to say hello. Lilac in winter breaks the leathery heart.

"You are introspective" the student said, the way one would say to a butterfly, "your wings are colorful and I am curious." What we find interesting finds us first. In some ways, I am never not standing by the river, astounded by the way light is everywhere and seems to move.

Past and future are stubborn illusions indeed! And yet, we really only need to question them. Answers are never as satisfying as we hope they will be, though Thoreau certainly gave it a good effort.

Your respiratory problems - and the astounding reference to a performance of Macbeth now three decades old - inspired the best conversation of the evening. She closed her eyes while listening to music, I remember that for darn sure. And dreamed a happy dream?

This: what is broken is not real. Oh and this too: what is real can never break.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holy Distractions

Stepping onto the porch at 3 a.m., last living dog bounding ahead, one looks up and sees flurried snow and dimly beyond, stars. Both earth and heaven are familiar landscapes, no? In the forest, one pauses to listen. Just shy of the brook - where sixty years ago you slept and made biscuits and repented of your one movement towards love - I heard ice melting, trickling down through limbs of chilled pine. You give to me and so I give to you and together we ascend the lighted stairs.

Or something like that. The old cat limps to the water bowl night after night. In my dreams I teach myself, or that is one way to see it. As a child, he identified with the internal observer and it wasn't until he turned forty that he began to question that decision. For some reason, I am thinking of the fairgrounds two towns away.

We confuse time - which is merely another idea - with time's measurement which - again - is merely another idea. As a child, the chemistry set appealed to me because each exercise invoked - involved  maybe - transfiguration. Imagine that! He walked up the center aisle, lit by the rose light that was everywhere in those days. As are the dust motes, most holy of holy distractions.

We have been angling towards one another for lifetimes but at the last minute will probably veer away. Accidents of biology - their stories notwithstanding - can probably do no better. I write because I write and also prefer my cabbage fried in butter. Burned? Oh darling, the last thing you need is a plan

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lumbering Away, Glancing Back

A way piano notes have of arriving where one does not expect without jarring. You rise at 4 a.m. and listen to the rain. Dogs at the window sadly. I have felt this way about you as long as I can remember.

It's settling that I'm talking about, a sort of coming to coherence, naturally. We often mistake greed for freedom but life is not about getting what we want. Pine trees by the fire pond dusted with ice. We will not - not now - see a bear in the distance lumbering away, glancing back.

Silence becomes us. Yet I still long for what only you can give - a word. It is this to which we all aspire regardless of learning. Later, when the guitar entered, one began to understand the stars - the heavens, really - in a new light.

Elegance matters. We are released as we learn to let go as - for example - we choose not to trouble the smoky lair of sleeping mammals in December. Each sentence begins in the ground we share which is why they resonate the way they - the way we - do. Electricity was always there - remember that.

Ah guilt you remind me always of what I will not forgive! We will never be framed that way. You bring me to my knees and you know it. We lean towards salvation, we check ourselves, we are - you and I, together at last - almost there.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Miles Standish Often Pushed

This is the writing that emerges when I don't want to write. Sunlight on the white barn all the brighter.

Dusty horses tossing their heads while led to pasture, as if reluctant, as if to insist. We issue our own challenge and then respond accordingly.

Writing is talking's extension. What is natural.

Saying goodbye, one felt only relief, as if having scaled a necessary crag. Sunset follows.

I am reflecting on the arms and armor of the pilgrims. What is the way we say no.

Earlier, folding our sleeping bags, I could not go on, could not. We must preserve what expires, no?

And thus write? Well, this anyway.

This welter, and this bell. And later still, working the new chainsaw, I remembered my uncle driving through Rhode Island in a moment of uncharacteristic quiet.

You can't not say goodbye. This writing is in effect farewell.

No, that's not right. Miles Standish often pushed farther than anybody else wanted.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hunger When You Are Not Here

When you are not here - where I am - I notice. One longs to extend, to make an offering. There is so much you forget when faced with a beautiful woman! Call me stupid, Ishmael.

While earlier beneath stars I reconsidered the whole of civilization and also the necessity of apology. One gets good at what one does often. Time must matter or we wouldn't be so focused on it, yes? And later, a sense of sharing, an opening of language into what is new, and continues new.

Coffee, bells, buckshot and the bones of birds. In the museum I always lingered by the stones laid out in rows, astounded at what colors the earth bore to us, sentience or willingness be damned. What else would you call love? Cezanne, of course.

Say it again in that voice that even in my dreams is clipped and soft, reminiscent of fields I have not yet seen but will, or must. It's all good is another way of saying it's not and never can be. Flat surfaces yield up any number of directions. We end and life somehow goes on.

Roll on Columbia. Any word of Vermont is welcome, even if it's going to break my heart. I remember as a child contemplating the sky while thunder boomed in distant hills and it boiled down - it always did in those days - to punctuation. Tell me please that you read this and I won't stay up by the window, glued to a dozen special stars, and the dark towering pines beyond that always remind me of hunger.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Disgraced by Price

The crescent moon at dawn, sharp as tacks encircling dust. First the ducks, then a tired - a surprised - chicken. Dead leaves crusted with frost crackle underfoot. You are always you.

And never me? Hanging laundry one studies a sort of lavender blend in the northernmost sky. In my dream, you claimed you could not see what I see because I am Christian to which I wrote - in a tight-fisted script above your comments - question this. Emily Dickinson is instructive as always.

Avoid study, avoid rivers and also astronomers. Don't rely on luck to make the poem. I paused near the clothesline and looked at the moon before ducking back inside to make you coffee. In the distance, deer pause and breathe and at last step out from the shadows.

Narrative makes demands in at least two ways. Photographs resist the familiar structure. The penultimate reason for living is at last extended. We are all of us disgraced by price.

And yet, certain rivers - as certain landscapes - continue, or seem to. She wrote of my sentences, they are oddly reassuring, like distant relatives who have studied religion. Thus the moon comes back in, as it must, at my behest. And you, as always, so lovely, so inquiring.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Attention Matters

The sentence unfolds. Is a way of unfolding. Is like that. And not this. Not now at least.

At last. One can always ask: is there anything else? Ideas unfold. Evolve? The moon appears to float, certainly.

So it is a question of movement then? As in one writes and then publishes and then another one reads? As leaves fall? One has an enduring memory of a sidewalk in 1985 in Burlington, Vermont on which brown leaves are pasted by rain. It does float, in a way.

In a way, the sentence does unfold. And passes? Becomes objectified, perhaps. So attention matters. Ceaselessness as well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Season of You

The moon seems to begin at a low place in the sky. It seems to begin, in time, at a particular place slightly south and due east of the neighbor's house. It's a way of saying what matters. The mind turns where it will and toward what remains. I am saying something about a flower, one I am not allowed to pick, and have been looking at all my life.

Like a niece's letter? One misspells gassho for going on two decades and then wonders what it - what anything - means. As seagulls sail back and forth above the parking lot, day old french fries dangling from their bills. Remember we always said as if when we meant not really? Now and again avoiding hello.

Somewhere near the eleventh sentence you begin a necessary reconstruction. One is shaped not by elocution but by certain sounds that, when uttered, eschew definition. This gold braid, that gold braid. The cat leaped and landed and paused as if to replay it all in her mind. A season of you is now coming to a close.

I don't believe what I profess to believe. One grows tired signing checks, but there is more to it, but what? A river runs through it indeed. One resists the impulse to send yet another letter and that has an emotional - a psychological - effect. This sentence is here simply to put you in the mind of what I did not - because I could not - say.