Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resonant Echoes of Yes

Blurred stars I cannot perceive without the aid of geometry and maybe a dog. Definitely a dog, though that too will pass in time. Snowless fields break beneath my feet, leaving me amazed as always at how readily randomness wears the veils of meaning we offer it. Somebody up north likes me, which is a kind of structure I'm still trying to map for her. In the distance, somebody's cow bellows and I have to stop and remind myself that it isn't 1973. Fix your tractor, keep a good pair of long underwear handy, and don't kiss anybody you can't bring home to your mother. Well, two out of three (one and a half out of three) isn't bad. Her husband comes to mind at odd hours, a genial space (hazy, actually) as misunderstood as she is, for which I can do nothing. The space in the air where earlier a candle burned - is it the same space or just a memory? Disappointment is tangible, but differently than starlight, of which lately I am so enamored. That, too. What does not come and go? How simple can the inquiry be? The resonant echoes of yes through which we discover the undiscoverable self that, in an effort to render itself discoverable, invented pronouns. It's a linguist's world in the end, the rest of us are just commas gazing at both ends of a sentence we didn't ask for.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Little Inclination to Travel

Sleep - but not redundancy - evades the insomniac, and so at 2 a.m. I go outside to enact a fantasy of starlight falling into my open hands. There is a point at which what happens begins to recede from us, or that is one's sense of it, in those moments when attention is not driven solely by perception of the other's engulfing needs. Stop eating me, is what I often want to say, and also stop using pronouns so literally. The self is a center of narrative gravity mostly, not a causal agent unto itself (or other selves or objects), and this understanding facilitates one's ability to allow the various opportunistic images - starlight, dogs, inner peace, whiskey, cake, justice et cetera - to simply track with neurochemical and biological (material) winds otherwise unnoticeable. Unmentionable? Words are useless before the image, as the image is useless before the underlying agency of Life, which is broadly perceived as a force, or an assemblage of forces (and effects doubling as forces), of which consciousness is merely one, and a dispensable one at that. The dog shows little inclination to travel, though I do head out into frosty fields to maximize darkness and distance, and she follows readily enough. Resignedly? There is no such thing as halfway, just as one does not really depart or arrive, a trippy sort of insight that goes a long way to reducing conflict, if you don't try to make it about God. My perception is that I turn to sex mostly out of boredom (since you can't assess Marder's analysis of supervenience, let's fuck), while wordiness feels truly creative (hence sentences, a joyfully solitudinous enterprise), and clarity - which is naturally the ultimate objective of our penchant (a kind of procreative lust, really) for objectification - is in a real and measurable sense the only orgasm there is. Let's do that again! Chrisoula used to ask if I knew what I was talking about or just talking but now she can tell the difference, hence her frequent variations on the theme of "kindly shut the fuck up." Well, the same old fatigue arrives on schedule, just like a bus, just like an oil change. As the sun emerges over yon horizon I fall into a brief but untroubled sleep, rising a couple or three hours later without design or ambition, and oh what a pleasant silence I can be.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Confused with a Blessing

Soft clouds confused with a blessing are quickly subsumed by the goddamn cold. Once again I wore the wrong jacket, once again I am walking into and not with the stubborn wind. Either the God of Good Decisions is a prick generally or I pissed in his chapel and went down on his favorite angel and this is how he pays me back. Sweet Christ, why aren't you here with me when I need you most? Yet where the field dips a little to where I first shot at a deer I remember to open my hands and instantly they are filled with starlight. I'm serious: we are basically monkeys with delusions of grandeur and a knack for language. Up at 4 a.m. now out of habit mostly, though for years it passed as a spiritual practice, a kind of slow dance on a threshing floor colored with blood. Mirror balls, prisms, January ice in sunlight and sunlight on the lake in June. You see a pattern here, don't you? On the other hand, the God of Falling in Love seems to think I'm worth a little something something. Why don't you crawl into my warm nest of blankets and introduce me to your freckles? Let's just make out for a long time and call that home, okay? After I'll bring you coffee and a graham cracker. Let me know indeed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Place for Your Kiss

Hunger and the idea of God emerge in the same body, somewhat simultaneously. A little rain dissuades no chickadees and moss does matter, a reminder for which I was most grateful. In my dreams - which are simply the same old narrative but in free fall - I kept leaning in to kiss you and you kept saying "this is the the last lesson in insistence." Desire gives birth to memory, memory to habit, and habit to a kind of blindness from which all conflict arises. I'm not ready to say yes to dead Giraffes, okay? If you believe in God, work with God, and if you don't believe in God, do the work the people who believe in God believe God does. What are we really but monkeys pretending to be starlight? I've got a plan for your hands and a place for your kiss, love. The world loves a wordy lass which goes a long way to explaining my fluency in jealousy. What he should have said was, "thank you for sharing the apple and thank you too for a new way of seeing the garden." Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as outcomes, yet every breath is accounted for, every poem already written. Take me down slow in the light we collectively authored.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hunger Eating Itself

There is this softening now, reflected in sentences that resemble slow rivers, or maybe afternoons in August in the nineteenth century, enfolded slowly by a luminous blue twilight invented by Emily Dickinson. What my fists did no longer matters, all my empties are at the bottom of a certain lake in Vermont, and the dogs I could not save have all forgiven me from their bower over the unsurpassable horizon. Birth is simply the idea "I have a body," while death is "I have lost my body." How little we understand in the end, projecting wisdom onto crows, lovingkindness onto chickadees, and the fear of grace onto her shoulders, breasts and willingness to kneel. What is the world but hunger eating itself in order to live while we slink beneath the table, both craving and terrified of crumbs? We invent God out of fear and hope and the idea proceeds to live in our imagination as love or freedom or grace. Every motion the sea makes is a form of resistance to one who insists on "waves" or "tides" or "beautiful." We are the sheer unwillingness to go down, a non-crisis I have tried to resolve by dropping to my knees as often as possible. Open for me, won't you, and admit with me the one body we are trying so hard to find through pleasure? A little rain falls in Ireland and in India my teacher who chose the form of a woman looks up from jeweled sunlight spackling the Ganges. I dream of my own death, and wake up to yet another departure, yet another day without shoes. You?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Grains of Salt and Sand

Can we say in the field of attention that the self is a kind of body eclipsing the source of light? That all darkness is self-imposed, even though we are unaware of it as such? How lightly one's gaze rests on the chickadees and how uncontingent the chickadees are in return! The light - Thoreau's "morning star," as it were - forever shines, forever exerts its influence. The dog comes out of the forest limping, and the rain picks up, and what I love is here with me, and what I do not love is here with me too. What else can you say in the end? All my reading ever teaches me is that there really is nothing new under the sun, only varied ways of saying it. Grains of salt and sand abound. The Beloved lifts her head from the pillow to ask when will you at last consent to the joy that naturally inheres in you? Oh, what a ruinous conflagration loneliness is, when what emerges from its flames is what went into them so long ago. I'm begging you: be my undressed pine tree, be my widening gyre.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Luminous Grace Emerges

By afternoon a luminous grace emerges: piano notes fall from the sky as flakes of diamond. One regains a sense of salvational maple over late coffee, studying last year's Christmas tree yet gathering snow where years ago the goats played. Waited? I ate them crying and buried every bone by the old apple tree. How deep the shade becomes when the Beloved meets us in it! The world is a field of graves which means we are forever encompassing silence, forever heeding the familiar dusky whisper. Follow me follow me. Anyway, it all arises now, over and over a sweetness I only sometimes indulge. I remember once talking and she said, sooner or later those fences are going to have to come down. Even now I study them, leaning in the pasture like the rest of us, a little more every year. Stars are falling, darling, they are eating the miles between us with their vast hot and fiery mouths.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

This Fear of Falling

You wake from dreams of expanding graveyards, a little smile playing on your lips and think, what? The dog leads me into fields abutting the old feeder pond which I've been avoiding since falling last week for fear the slick ice will send me toppling yet again which my back cannot bear. "Your core is compromised," F. said as we watched Sophia work the new horse and I was so fascinated by the concept I had to wander away in order to be quiet, in order to think it over. Actually, you can't say you're a body or a mind. No stars, no moon which for some reason makes me reconsider wordlessness. What I wouldn't give . . . The rooster offers up his throaty howl before the sun is even close to rising, reminding me yet again how unproductive the masculine inclination can be. It's worth remembering that silence precedes and in a sense allows for language. Foxes are red and, for me anyway, always female and usually fatal. A little snow falls, refusing description. In another life I will marry a sculptor and sweep her studio every evening and in the morning bring her tea before she works. In this one, there's this wordiness, there's this falling and this fear of falling, and there's this coming home in darkness in order to start again.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

When I Faltered on the Trail

The dog and I go out at 2 a.m. and right away the stars demand that I stop thinking and worship them. They are like cats, or certain women I've known. And what can you do but fall to your knees? Honestly, it's a relief sometimes to set aside my inherent wordiness and rest a little in the relative silence. How many times do I have to write "kiss her where she is softest" before I remember it's way more fun and productive to just shut up and go down on her? When I think of all the motels I've stayed in, and all the hostels, and all the train stations and park benches . . . After a while you stop thinking in terms of who's naked and who's not and just fantasize about a good night's sleep. Jeremiah asks about certain scratches and gouges on my guitar - the one he's not allowed to play for now - and they all have a story, some of which I can't tell him yet. Or am I just not ready to remember? I think about that near the bottom of the hill, listening to the brook, hoping I don't fall going back like I did the other day. I made some promises in Ireland, I left a couple of photographs in France. "When's the last time you played a Woody Guthrie song sober?" There was always something special under the blankets, even if the blankets were thin and wet with dew. It was nice to see the stars after and it still is, even without the solace of whiskey. When I write, the dog curls up next to me. What happened was a long time ago the moon swallowed me whole. What happened was a black bear said I could follow him and when I faltered on the trail, he waited. I left the church but stole the altar and gave it away to anyone who would listen, the only way I know. Sentence by sentence, song by song, poem by intimate poem. You're never more alone than in starlight, my dear. This one is for you, again.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Unfamiliar Tenderness

Wind begets an unfamiliar tenderness: kids coughing after midnight, the dog limping through pasture, and piles of books breaking old shelves. How exhausted one becomes in the field and hollow of metaphor! Snow before dawn hides the stars and I stumble as always, bereft of a useful compass. You can't weave a quilt from the idea of threads, and wordiness is just a tantrum seen another way. Falsehood by falsehood we reinvent the dark. Thoreau's delusion remains my fixed North, while Dickinson's grace is a kind of swallowed yellow. Be my stable, be my salty yes. The nineteenth century still sheds a welcome light. The old river runs its banks, indifferent to monks who confuse themselves with sand bags.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Directionless Whole

Down below the old homestead I slip and fall - rare enough - and slide down Harvey Road a good twenty feet or so. The dog comes over to check but moves on quickly. We're all okay, despite so much evidence to the contrary. Rain and more rain and yet cold enough on the gravel that it turns to ice at 4 a.m. Deepening a kind of going down? Or going down a kind of opening? Well, kisses where they matter most, let's say that. Sometimes it seems I've been laying in snowbanks for lifetimes, staring up into the sky, blinking through tears or whatever watery trickle attends those crippled in love. Be my unshakable walking stick, be my naked crutch! Whiskey helps, or helped, and also meeting women I wasn't supposed to meet, one or two of whom brought their own bottle and sang their own sad songs. There is always a hairpin turn ahead, one that we need to take slowly, and always someone who will tell us a story about what happens to those who don't. I spent many years waiting on stars, those blistery symbols of the interior lantern, and for what? Travel is relative - east and west contingent inside the directionless whole - and crows will tear any map to pieces, no matter how badly you think you need it. We're not lost, we're home. We're not fallen, we're floating. You'll see. After all, you were the one who lifted me.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Further Becomes A Habit

What a hill remains to be climbed! And thank Christ! Or so I think a few hours after midnight, stopping every few feet to enjoy joy, clouds muting the faroff sky, the dog staying close, her hind legs trembling. You go so far and then further becomes a habit. As my dead drunk uncles would say, "the seeker dissolves in cheap whiskey." Or in the very search itself, lit by faint moonlight and attended by old dogs who maybe don't need to travel anymore. I survived this much, might as well endure a little more. When you bring me coffee I can't stop staring at your shoulders. My broken heart reassembles every noon and sings a plaintive song called "I Wish I Knew A Plaintive Song." Division abounds until we perceive that within which it divides and then it doesn't. It was always thus - it just took me a while to see it.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Terrified of Sipping

An icicle is the sun another way, as snow reimagines the blue in which I am always famously composing. This sentence unfolds within both me and you, very much the way all those cardinals work their way from our hearts through our throats to the light. Call it a poem, call it a song, call it a motel room in Albany strung with soft kisses. Some telephones never ring and some bottles of wine gather dust forever in otherwise empty cellars. Tractor is simply the way I can say right now I believe there are no tractors and no fields and no farmers harvesting crops. Terrified of sipping - which is to say terrified that even the little I have will be taken away - I take you in gulps, insisting on naked, my hands on your shoulders, all of you opening to all of me now. Those snowy expanses behind the house glisten as the chalky moon works its way west. What a confused and meandering love letter I am! What a lovely envelope you make, tackling the miles as if they were real.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Remains and Passes

The blue light of which we are all composed resolves itself in form and then goes on. Understanding is simply the illusion that calms the surface beyond which we perceive the absence of depth, any depth at all. Ask what passes, learn what does not. At 3 a.m. beneath pine trees a few flakes of snow are visible in moonlight. Near the shoulder of what I am for now (or seem to be) a chickadee murmurs. The suggestion is that herons are enough, or that one can take a black bear for a teacher, or sit a long time learning how the sea invents the horizon and how the horizon is just longing seen another way. Let go, let go. The Hardy Boys taught me that investigation matters. Dungeons and Dragons taught me the importance of remembering that mirrors need a source of light to work and are not themselves the source of light. The dog goes out into the field and comes back. Clouds cover the moon and pass and the moon remains and passes. Remains and passes does not change. Between this and that, word by word, all that ever was I am.

we cannot abandon
what we do not know -
yesterday's poem about chickadees
is lost
in today's falling snow

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

After Yes

A sinking feeling lately that there is neither beginning nor end, mostly in the sense that one climbs a mountain only to discover the one who arrives at the windy peak is the same one who left the drizzly base camp. In my dream Chrisoula is knitting a sock and says casually "well, what did you expect?" Or was that this morning over tea? Yes, it was this morning over tea except I was drinking coffee, or trying to. You will nail me to that cross or I will nail myself damn it! Pronouns beg the question and are no real help in getting to the answer. Resurrected butterflies abound. Lately too a sense of being tortured by images (see preceding sentence or just get naked and face a mirror), largely without consent or - perhaps better to say - wanting to withdraw consent but not knowing how. How confused one can become after "yes!" You think you're a something - anything - a self with a pedigree and a multi-volume narrative still being composed maybe - and it's that at which you grasp or try not to grasp, when in fact peace is simply clarity with respect to the fact that there is no thinker thinking anything so grasping or not grasping never enters into it. The truth is I'm fixing a tractor for my dead drunk uncles. All morning in an icy rain shoring up the north foundation getting angrier by the second. The truth is, words fail me but I keep thinking it's the other way around and so I go on with the guilt, go on thinking "just one more poem, just one more sentence." I mean look: the limbs of the old dogwood tree are heavy with ice and reach for the ground, uttering the perennial "enough." The truth is, I wish I was the one who opened, who allowed their love to enter, whose folds were the ground in which the wanderer came home.

I am blind
in the bright tent
our bodies make

Take my hand
so we can enter
what opens

together

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Oldest Fire I Know

Rigorous passivity. Or something like that. Passive attention in a sustained way? Well, my breath does leave me slowly, floating in silver clouds towards faint stars and an even fainter moon, nearly lost in clouds of its own way over there by the neighbor's. Wood smoke vs. a promise of rain vs. a deserted rabbit warren come to unexpectedly. The dog is energetic but stays close, as these days she tends to, and from time to time I whisper her name, which is a way of saying yes. It's too early to be out walking, as skunks and deer are only too happy to remind me, but what can you do but what you can do? None of us are objects, and yet objects abound. When the owl cries I stop to listen, as if there were an answer one could give outside the non-traversable landscape. We go far enough to hear the brook, the hollow sound it gets when ice begins accumulating and then turn back. I am never far from the idea of bells, and the nineteenth century is hardly an afterthought. In the drafty back room I eschew coffee and just write. What a drama, all these umbrellas fretting what will happen to them now it's winter. The more words the better, I say, setting yet another log on the oldest fire I know.

My Interior Correspondence

Wordiness unbound, attention relieved of tension, and waking too late to walk the dog during shotgun season. Deer breathe in snowy glades, their undulating flanks the color of burlap. Not for the first time do I consider reinvigorating my interior correspondence with Gertrude Stein, the brilliant but strange aunt nobody wants to claim. At the end of her mountain of a life she asked "what is the question" and then went silent, relatively silent. Sentences of the eighteenth century, especially Cooper's, forever resound in my head, urging me in the direction of transcendent gestures. "At length the sun set in a flood of glory, behind the distant western hills, and as darkness drew its veil around the secluded spot the sounds of preparation diminished; the last light finally disappeared from the log cabin of some officer; the trees cast their deeper shadows over the mounds and the rippling stream, and a silence soon pervaded the camp, as deep as that which reigned in the vast forest by which it was environed." The forest found us, and has not yet left us, is a better way to say it. Well, who doesn't love the sound of their own voice?  Whatever arises is already here and so the idea of control is laughable, or would be if it weren't also the source of so much grief and conflict. Into your arms I would fall, beloved! Meanwhile, squirrels decorate the dogwood tree and chickadees abound. You can't have ice without water, or Buddhas without suffering, or pancakes for breakfast without sharing, thank Christ.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Generative Nexus

One scraggly rooster picking his way through the roots of winter lilac. And rain, and rain clouds, and a slush that is neither snow nor rain but gray itself in freezing clumps. Gray as a condition of the weather, yet interiorly - still sick, still tired, still unable to put the sentences together - one is gray as well, whatever that means. You can't ask a crow anything because they are joyful liars by nature, knowing full well that truth is whatever they say it is, because at that precise moment, what else could it be? Anyway, my appetite is for words primarily, not information. Also, the generative nexus between word and image matters more than either word or image. Relationship is causative but also effective, according to the many collectives binding us. We are not here to learn but to recognize, can I say it that way? Hence you, hence us. Hence poetry, or at least this poem, not unlike that pile of wood out back which I have never get around to burning. Fire is an art I have studied closely which renders me not masculine but good to have around when it's cold. You can't insist on cardinals. You can only feel what you feel when - briefly or otherwise - they appear.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

For Once I Can't Answer

In December the moon is further North than one expects; I have to turn and look over my shoulder to see it. "There it is," I say to the dog, who is already across the road, nose to the ground, tracking something - skunk probably, maybe another dog - through the yet-snowy field, and doesn't listen. And isn't that how it goes? Elaborate metaphors serve primarily themselves and secondarily their makers, hence my continued interest in our shared liberation from texts that are complicated only because simplicity scared the hell out of the author. You know who you are. Chrisoula comes in around midnight to ask between my hacks and sniffles if I need anything, and I can't answer - for once I can't answer - because what is there to say except I'm always scared when I'm sick? Weakness of any kind has always frightened me, owing to an early (and regrettably enduring) lesson that who cannot bear suffering is not beloved of God. How many Golgothas must we pass on the way to grace? On the other hand, raw garlic, lots of water with cider vinegar and lemon, boiled chicken and broth, the kids coming in with poems and pictures . . . Being is simple - the simplest thing there is really - and yet by virtue of thought we have removed ourselves from it, a sleight-of-mind that brings us no end of grief. Insomnia is in part a consequence of how happy any night makes me - the stars and the moon, the silence, the owls and coyotes who make the silence deeper. What can you say in those moments but "me too?" I write not because there is anything to say - there isn't really - but because when I don't it's too much slippage outside whatever yes composes joy. I'm saying tired but not too tired. I'm saying scared but getting less so all the time.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Parted Just A Little

Four a.m. is the stillness that receives me in (order to empty me (of me)). Or something like that. I could ramble all morning if she'd let me. Each exhalation is a tide falling away and yet remains welcoming, which is exactly the mystery I long ago resolved to solve. Coffee, not tea, and candles instead of the overhead, and curtains parted just a little so one or two stars remain visible. The tractor metaphor is clumsy because it implies there is something to fix. I am not trying to fix anything because there is nothing to fix, but there is something to see. Earlier, in the moist fields behind the old homestead, a sort of mist rising from punky snow, and a warm bellows coming up out of the cattail, I saw it. It is always there but we are very insistent on the prerogative of narrative-as-self, which functions as both shield and a veil. Also, we are very attached to the body's eyes, which are a mansion when a cottage is all one really needs. A distance that is not neglectful is the closest I can get to what you learn in your sojourns outside time. I wake to write, and write to awaken, and so the words are there. Well, they are always there, which is an answer if at this late juncture you want one.

My Heart's Dizzy Agenda

Are all my walks a search for mercy? I wonder sometimes what he discovered on his coast-to-coast drives, his life-long beer-filled sojourn to nowhere. In my dreams he is often looking for a place to live but also being honest about who wants him around. It only hurts if you let it? Loneliness is the third teacher, I see that now. A little rain falls, a soft cloud enfolds me, follows me. Maybe you, too. Lost dogs of the world forgive me for falling so short of my heart's dizzy agenda. There is no middle in love, as there is no distance in here. And you are here. Now you are here. I stumble as I go - oh Lord how I stumble - but still. The dog settles on the bed and I drink coffee at the north-facing, yet dark, window. The prayer writes itself and writes us with it. Word by word is the only way I know.

A Red Blush I Instantly Loved

The belief that we are something (good or bad, a poet or a seamstress, a sister or a lover) is different from the name we give that something. The latter is a matter of convenience - beautiful communication -  but the former can screw us worse than those years of booze and sleeping in the park. Oh holy night indeed. I paused where the deer had kicked at the snow to get to fallen apples, the few remaining a red blush I instantly loved. Paused, too, where the hill crested near the old parsonage and looked out over the landscape that is shifting so fast it might as well be a dream. Headed back thinking if I wasn't so Zen I'd think that somebody ought to kick that dreamer's sorry ass. The puer in me is repulsed by the doggedness, the tedium, of writing, and also by my willingness to dog her for attention. Dignity avails the lonely nothing! A lot begins at the throat and then you have a decision to make, i.e., where to kiss next, and don't think I haven't got a preference. She said I was softer in person, as if my sentences were merely defensive, and I liked that, I held onto it, I "ate it up." Icicles never melt the way you plan but wordiness goes on forever. Distance and waiting are two parts of a holy tryptich. I never met a dog I didn't love or a dog owner I didn't judge. The altar is everywhere but it can take a while to see it, huh?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Beginning of Memory

I nearly slipped going east down the hill and the dog paused to look back but I righted myself - arms extended - and went on, wondering what other falls await me and who, if anyone, will right me when I can't. Distance means we aren't distracted by sex, or are distracted differently, and also that we are obligated to use words to communicate. Lucky me. God does not need thanks but the thought is nice, if one is inclined to gratitude. The glitter of starlight on snow remains a favorite image, reaching all the way back to the beginning of memory, but I am less and less partial to the cold in which it happens, despite a bulky jacket, despite a handmade hat. I am beginning again a particular landscape that scares me, and yet to which I seem to return again and again, as if there were a lesson to learn. But in the end all we ever see is that there is no seer, and then we have to choose: will I turn back to the false comfort of the known or will I enter the unnameable flux in which all differentiation - including that which I believe composes me and you - ends? Well, that is one way to look at it. Probably there are others. A few cups of coffee, another thousand words or so, and the Beloved remains ensconced in her holy faroffness, her sacred now-you-see-me-now-you-don't. Perhaps it was always that way. We leave the hive and fall in love with bluets while all the while someone waits for the nectar we were sent to find, and found, and then forgot in the face of beauty, forget in the reflection of love.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Escort to Ash

Up past midnight tending a fire while the others sleep. What am I - what are any of us ever - but an escort to ash? I dreamed of raising the dead and getting lucky, and I dreamed of ducklings tumbling over one another in sunlight, and I dreamed of the futility inherent in cameras. Yet grace does reside in the image, even the ones we never receive. Nobody is going anywhere is a hard lesson to learn, given the cartographic nature of relationship. I am here, he is there. A preferential dishonesty, like a sudden opening where the hill crests, is neither an answer nor a question. The truth admits no distance, which is why you can see right through it and still see only truth. At dawn a little snow falls like some Nordic god's afterthought, or maybe a little winter god still learning how to walk. A book called Dogs I Have Known would be too sad for any of us, but cardinals at the feeder are a real joy. I sneak outside before anyone else wakes up and thank them for being red, thank them for this open marriage full of chickadees and bears, starlight and you. And you. You.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Between Lovely and Starvation

Snow and starlight a welcome shelter, though one wonders what the killdeer think. Tuffets and buntings the fine line between lovely and starvation. Last night's skunk returns, leaving tracks over the now-covered garden. Meandering is an art premised on radical inclusion, which is simply love. Some things we try to settle into over and over and they keep spitting us back and when will we learn? We can only be home when we're home and with whom we are home. An interim of kisses will not distract me, nor will I say no. How quiet the landscape is after the first snow! How slowly I walk through it, like not even walking at all. The sourceless light goes with me now and you are its favorite lamp.

The Proffered Hand

You could burn every clock ever made and I wouldn't mind. You could grow the perfect rose, too. Reheated coffee tastes different, depending on the mug it's in, which is part of what I am getting at re: form. We were lost in that diner a long time, exiting as if from a singularity, and I still couldn't love you the way you wanted or needed, could I? Loneliness teaches us what we have yet to learn about how to love, which is obviously why I spent so much time with it. Response matters whether you're drunk in Burlington, Vermont or sneaking into a Dublin convent. What you don't share remains a secret and to that degree you go unsaved. Unclothed? Unrobed, maybe. Metaphors, of course, are essentially a form of violence, despite our sense that they are unavoidable. They aren't. Yet what a castle can't do, a cottage in the woods often will. It's fun to think there is a single note song out there and we are it but sooner or later you have to come clean about God and Love. I mean, snow falls and deepens all morning and it's the same old story as it ever was: we ignore the proffered hand in order to go on with crutches.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Becoming Yes

I had a sense as the moose disappeared into shadows that we had informed one another, in the way that water fills a mug, or starlight my cupped palm. One struggles at times to see any imperfection at all anymore. Cutting bittersweet where the yard falls away, adjusting the oven so the the bread will crisp just so. A world of coffee will not long sustain me, nor do I dream anymore of anything frightening. Syllables precede us, lighting the way, exactly as Roland Barthes suggested. Or was it Gertrude Stein? Well, someone pointed to a window, someone said "here's how it opens." And does it matter now, being no longer on either side of but rather in the bourn? Its eternal beneficent flow? He said to me a long time ago, when he knew - but I was yet learning - that I had it, what do you want to do with it? And now this: sentence after sentence becoming yes. Yes.

Monday, November 24, 2014

By The Window

Rain at 4 a.m., soft and unexpected, and Chrisoula whispering "do you have to?" as I slip out of bed to stand by the window, dressing for a walk. Dogs almost always say yes, which is part of why we love them so. No stars, no moon, but D. forgot to turn his porch light off, its faint rays slipping over the fire pit and barren garden. Her dream of me matters, as does getting past it into whatever else - if anything - this life is for. I turn south into old fields despite the mud, despite the cold. We go where the heart says go? While the mind pries open its prismatic vastness. Well, maybe. I'm a wordy guy in the end, more interested in trisyllabic utterances than getting anything right. You do what you can. For a long time I was scared of the devil, carried flashlights and guns, and sketched a map of the world in my head. But then I realized he was just like me: disgraced in Heaven, missing his father, and stumbling accordingly. Prodigal children abound! For you then this rain which I entered and was blessed by. And for you the trail I followed back alone.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lovely Lonely Fragments

To the extent we are traveling, we are now slowing down. Now we are taking small steps designed not to move us to a new location but rather to see where we are clearly. Prisms are helpful, also mirror balls. The smallest shards of ice at the tip of the lilac bush, and - once or twice a lifetime - the radiance of trout leaping at dusk, perfect rainbows emanating from the river spray flung from their muscular bodies, all in the last beams of the far off falling sun. Your mind holds what the light puts there, and everything else is simply the flotsam left by your habit of embroidery. One dream of one kiss can obscure awakening, despite our best intentions. That is one way to think of it; surely there are others. A day of darkness eventually sheds its shadowy woolens and you find yourself on a rickety ladder scraping ice and dead leaves from the gutter, at the far end of which is an empty robin's nest. Remember in summer when hummingbirds visited the bee balm, hovering before the bedroom window? We never forget what reminds us God is Love and Love is Reality perceived - for now - in lovely lonely fragments. Butterflies, shoulders, moss, peas. How cold and blue my hands are and yet how steadily I work, removing detritus that obstructs the needed flow. It's a metaphor, yes, but not only that. We don't really have wings but in mid-November, with her eyes upon you, it can feel that way. You can feel that way. And so what? She always comes to me early in the morning before I walk, pulling the blankets over us, and I am happy then, I am more than happy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reaching the Desert You Promise

At three a.m. you wake up a suspect but ten minutes later the wild stars and frigid air insist you are held and beloved. How grateful I am for tea on mornings when the coffee grounds spill to the floor. When I cry, I cry hard, and the months that pass when I don't, well, what can you do but what you can do? There is a sense now that some lovely vista will remain unreached, some critical insight go undiscovered. Yet when you know you don't know, you basically know, right? Or am I only being clever? Coming back from teaching last night I pulled over to watch a bull moose trot north along the road, eventually ducking into a little clearing below K.'s house. How big and glorious they are in thinning moonlight! How shaggy as the year turns winter! And a dry snow spat from unseen clouds, hissing a little on the driveway when I pulled in, tired and angry and scared, despite the great Love of which I am mostly now aware. It turns out that saying what you don't want to say isn't the answer either although it does move you in a helpful direction. I love you in ways for which I am just beginning to be thankful. Yet I still stagger through sleep in a hurry to reach the other other side (repetition intended!), a habit that I refuse to give up, even though it doesn't really serve. I meant to write "the same old dream of mail" but snakes - who, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, are a symbol of death in the maw of the hungry Other (for I am terrified of being eaten above all other fears) - abound, and so. Thank you Meister Eckhart for going silent at a critical moment. I chose the wordy - not the religious - life, and am only now reaching the desert you promise I will not die in.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Old Dream of Snakes

You want quiet but the dog snores. And moves a lot in the night? Well, something is stirring and it's not just the old dream of snakes. It's okay. I cried hard remembering dead horses but a little before three a.m. the stars own a wild blue light you only see a few times after childhood. It is okay. A manageable hunger never hurt anyone. I remember Mr. Tower describing death as "over the bourn" and in that moment becoming a linguist. Be agile but bold, too. All trails take you somewhere is my implicit faith, and also you didn't make all trails. Saturday I bought a new mug for my coffee (the old one busted while Sophia and I were loading the truck). The woman who made it - a librarian with admirable taste in graphic novels - said "it's a flower vase" as I studied it and I said to her "not anymore" before plunking down my last pair of tens. Form is use, right? In poetry or pottery both. On the other hand, walking in the cold, I do wonder about the extremities. Frost is Persephone's mother's wedding dress cast aside in the frantic search. Something knocks in the woods and the dog abruptly turns, disappearing, leaving me alone with a buck who stepped wrong in the dark. Compose your own epitaph, Old Scratch! I smile a little back on the porch, wind blowing dead leaves over my feet and the lawn and Route 112 in the distance. You learn what you have to give and then you give it. The rest is a story, a good one more or less, but nearly ended now, and thank Christ too.

As Far As The Dying Dog

A perfect quarter moon behind fast-moving storm clouds which clear abruptly to reveal Ursa Major upright in the heavens. Is this where it ends? Northern wind as always rolling down a vast marble empire I could walk through in my sleep. I follow the old dog's lead now, the gift I couldn't give the other because all I wanted was to keep him alive. I am still more or less a member of the fuck death school, notwithstanding the breadth of my reading list and generally knowing better. Quandaries lead to proposed solutions which lead to yet more problems, as if we love being lost. Or is it a game? I can tell you this: if you can't reach the paradox yourself it will kick the door down on its own. I'm back in the relationship that yields only guilt and fear: I cannot leave and I cannot stay and she is the only one who knows. Imagine being given a voice only to learn your beloved has no ears. Oh Christ what did I do in a past life to stumble so in this one? There is no answer and there never was and that is the answer and yet. How I long to sleep but rise over and over at the hard hour to go as far as the dying dog will take me. You kneel by the frozen fire pond and pray it again: the wordless plea that birthed you: abandoned you: and still.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Little Before Sleep

Salty aftermaths abound, as egrets can sometimes be seen at a great distance over marshes no biped can traverse. Or else it rains, and the rain mixes with snow, and the dog and I come back sopping, and cold the way you sometimes have to be if you're going to find God outside. There are days you open the mailbox and there it is, the letter you were waiting for, and you light up inside like a polished crystalline prism. How many hours have I spent in trees, listening to snow fall, or watching the light change slowly to the blue that precedes darkness, or wishing I were someone or somewhere else? Moments go countless, as does love, as do the number of feathers on a given crow's wing, all of which is to say that the limits to mathematics are never not helpful. Slowly the old impulses fade and the need to be wrong or to pay some high price fades too. No gallows for me, thank you. Beware a man who uses the word blessing too much, who maybe makes you feel like you owe him. A lock of hair, a photograph, a kiss. It unfolds gently, Life, like a ripple that could topple marble walls, and carries us along for a little while. We are temporarily flotsam, capable in a limited way of knowing what is happening, and this insight inspires the relevant inquiry. I don't think we're going to grace any motels the way we sometimes say but I do think it's possible we will share some time near the end, when we are very old, and to all other eyes it seems futile or just silly. Truth be told, either way works for me. As always, I slip a little coming up the hill, and as always, right before it happens, I know it's going to happen. And so what? We play at life a long time before asking if there is anything else and only then do things get interesting. The symbolic tractor I am repairing leans against the symbolic barn in which I first kissed a girl and behind which all my symbolic dogs were executed. There are no accidents in language! Happiness involves chance but joy has an element of rootedness. What I am trying to say is thank you, and be patient, and give attention to what arises as I will too and what happens, happens and we will be the  ones who are okay with that, who are okay with a love without conditions. The sun rising, the sea falling. The dog sighing a little before sleep.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Your Story Unfolds Within Mine

One faces the day with a thousand names fluttering through their skull like butterflies made of ice, like salt flecks of the sea when the ship is going down. As the moon settles beyond the hill, shadows lengthen across the yard, and the blue light long believed to compose us all begins to radiate from the trunks of trees and the breasts of passing crows. Accept no kiss upon which conditions are placed, implicitly or otherwise, and resist inclusion in another's spiritual drama. Afternoon darkens like the interior of each piece of wood I stack, and I dream of warm fires, and of undoing what one learns when they go a long time without her touch. Your story unfolds within mine as mine unfolds within another. It is turtles all the way down, cooing and whispering, while gold light and bales of hay scattered through the loft beg yet another prayer at the altar of sex. Our bodies are maps and the hands of those we desire are travelers discovering the limits of prodigality. Welcome love! Kneel if you must but remember chickadees make me joyful beyond words.

Friday, November 14, 2014

First Snow

What is midnight as the first snow falls but midnight as the first snow falls? And it's no use being clever but the gifts are there to be used. As D. says when burning deadfall and passing the Old Crow, "God made man and God made trees but it was man made chain saws." And whiskey? Well, we do what we can, and what else really can we do? Awareness, properly understood (how tired I am of that word), is never not here and that realization is the beginning of what we call awakening (I do think that's a pretty helpful word). Seeing the seer, realizing the observer and the observed are not separate but one, and so on and so forth. By midday the snow will be gone but at midnight or just after it falls so quiet that you don't want to go inside but only stand in stillness always. Our brains are mechanical more than anything: just try to will what you don't will and see how it works (or doesn't work, actually). What is God but accepting that resistance to what is is futile? A lot of people appreciate my poetic bullshit but fail to see I'm basically describing the same tractor over and over. God made the field, God made the farmer but the farmer made . . . what exactly? Sometimes ardor dims the closer we get to the object of desire. We insist that Heaven is getting what we want but that's not it at all and never was: we don't actually want what we want. Want merely obscures what knows it already has everything. And the snow falls anyway, doesn't it? Ten thousand times ten thousand soft flakes settling aimlessly on the living and the dead and all that lies between and it doesn't ask our permission nor give a goddamn about beauty. Grace it turns out is only letting go so you can let go even more. Darling when I turn my face to the dark sky a thousand cold kisses reach me and behind them float a thousand more and I am standing there still, arms open, embracing you the only way I know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Scarlet Streamer of Grace

The dog and I - how many times have I used that expression, how many times will I - go out at 4 a.m. and it is sacred. As soon as I step outside what is God is there and I remember it never left - for how could what is all things in all places for all time go anywhere - and I breathe. My body lightens: the stars are blue: and faint trails of mist pass quickly under the moon. When we breathe, we are with life, and that is what it means to breathe. And in the old field, behind the old house, my walking slows, and I become still in ways that are as yet not fully all my nature. Yet I am not without hope, for blessings have never not followed my attention, which is only my willingness to remember love, which is remembered. Trains to the west, eighteen-wheelers on Route 112 heading south, and north pulling at me like a bulky lavender magnet. What is tangled undoes itself when we no longer insist it be untangled, and that is how we learn that we can only be hurt by our own thoughts. The pine trees remind me that I have no problems; the owl reminds me too. They rejoice with me quietly in pre-dawn darkness. Oh you who drew from my tired shoulders a scarlet streamer of grace, these words are not enough. Yet for you I come home early to write. For you - for a little while longer - I kneel.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Despite My Relative Nearness

Up past midnight reading Einstein, one eye on the moon. I've lost count of all the years that have passed now without whiskey, not to mention the stories I tell in which I still hit the bottle hard. Well, maybe holiness is what we do, not what we say. Francis de Sales proclaims a loving God, which makes me happy for most of the hours I'm awake. Chrisoula waves off a proposed drive through Vermont, which makes sense more or less, but my blood remains in its Go North boil. Clean the garage, rake half the lawn, write a few poems, look again at Einstein, especially where he references Schopenhauer. "A man can do as he will, but not will as he will." It must mean something, but what? The days pass for which I am never not grateful, as I am grateful too for the grackle on the back fence, preening calmly, despite my relative nearness. Every fall I wait for that night when geese can be seen flying in frosty moonlight but it seems this year it won't happen. Or happened but I didn't see. It's okay. There's ponds the bottoms of which I still haven't reached, there's dreams that keep occurring, as if something inside me yet begs to be known. Begs to be let go? I take my coffee and study the far field, itself a study in brown. What we can't say haunts us, while what we won't say remains - for now - redemptive.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Loveless Comparison

A little east mostly, brief warmth after yesterday's snow which lingered a few hours on crepuscular leaves still decorating the lawn. Who catalogs reality necessarily goes without it. Goes beside it? Falling asleep I scratched the dog who sidled close, her bones both felt and visible. One accepts with sorrow yet another mortal reminder. You can be pretty damn broken and life will still not accommodate your plans. At three a.m. one sees in the moon a loveliness that is wholly projected, and so is not seeing the moon at all. What then? Chrisoula comes in to ask after me, typing in the back room, writing the little poems I discovered when we met, drinking coffee from a Mason jar. I chew the nights with an intensity most people call dangerous but it's what I know. There are other maps and other ways but you walk the path you was given, no? Stole in a moment of creation? Or perhaps just covet, the way I once made love to strangers whose shoulders moved just so. Even now - letterless and lost, prone to the loveless comparison - I keep writing as if.

Another Mellifluous Dream of Thee

The morning passes by some necessity, one I have yet to learn or else knew and discarded without remembering why. Crows swoop low over the chickens, and a dozen juncos scour frozen leaves for whatever crumbs can be found there. Oh let me not starve who so long worshiped in the Kingdom of Hunger! Again the long walk after midnight, frosty grass sparkling in moonlight, and owls calling where the forest looks darkest. What dog would I become, what turtle, what chunk of see-through quartz and to what puzzling end? Wisdom's just another word for don't be such a fool. But the map in my head is crusty and hard to read and the one who was made to decipher it is far away and only writes from time to time. Nobody loves a cryptic know-it-all! A. reminds me of the perils of confirmation bias, and again I am forced to consider my fear of disappearing into the collective. Jesus is a long way off now, the way wood smoke eventually fades, becoming what else. When eventually I awaken the east-facing prisms have all fallen and the house is strangely quiet. Previously I have struggled and previously I have editorialized and almost always while wearing denim. It's the same old story: facing the void without explaining it, taking the next step anyway. There is a difference between stumbling and falling and the distinction actually matters. Always remember that who stands in the gap may become the gap. One more cup of coffee before I begin writing my dear, another mellifluous dream of thee.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Life Measured in Dogs

Just before one a.m. the dog and I go alone into the old potato field. It turns out we aren't our bodies, but our bodies aren't unhelpful either. Or so I think, being prone as always to translation. Historically, when asked to explain anything spiritual, I retreat into sex. I said once to Chrisoula "take it or leave it" to which she said "or love it, you idiot" and pulled me into her arms where I am still finding myself, gratefully. This is where you turn towards the forest, this is where you hunker and run your fingers through the frost. It's cold but not too cold: my pheasant-hunting hat scratches a little pulled down. I leave my ears exposed, hoping to hear owls or maybe a deer bounding away. Mostly though there's wind and the sound wind makes when it passes through the tops of pine trees. Is it okay to love solitude? When life is simply what unfolds without effort in awareness anyway? Clouds make a ladder to the blurred moon, the way stories from childhood saw us through the years to here. From a distance, what is many appears to be and move as one, and yet. My feet make a whispery sound falling one after the other; the feeder pond is just visible ahead, a pale oval I wouldn't want to fall into. But how far will we go? How far must we go? There is so much I don't know and can't be bothered learning anymore. A life measured in dogs who love us in ways we can only imagine? Say I do. Back home I read and write until dawn, stepping out one last time to listen for the only song that matters. How clear life is when every morning one marries again the chickadees always saying yes.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Fatal Tourism

Wind, and the sound the wind makes, a bellows above landscapes I know by heart, and have never really left. The frozen exterior is only biology another way. When I was little, I memorized prayers and poems for fun, and recited them in the forest, also for fun. Swallows are a beloved, a nearly mystical bird but chickadees do the heavy lifting, in the way that I rarely bother eating crabapples but the trees themselves have never not marked the various paths unwinding before us. One step makes clear the next, which is a way of saying don't worry so much, and also, get on with it already. Men with hats, men with guns, and men with the burden of not knowing how to say what burned to ash in their throats. Was that what we needed to hear but didn't? Well, Jesus always reflected a confused but beautiful ideal and I am only just lately understanding there is a) no penalty for not lingering at Golgotha and b) no obligation to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. Avoid a fatal tourism indeed! In the end, there is nothing to do and nobody special with whom to do it, and yet I still wait on her love letters, and remain grateful for her willingness to kneel. There is also the burden of finding one's way with words while knowing silence is the last and surest guide. The words settle like bread crumbs in our wake and hungry crows abound! On the other hand, how happy I am in the dark of 4 a.m., how gently the dog rests her head on my knee.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Every Temple

A little after two a.m. rain clouds thin and a wedge of moon nearly all the way west brightens the landscape I know by heart. The right word matters! What we write writes us, as what we read reads us, a simple truth that for too long eluded me. A longing for mystery breeds iconic detectives, yet as Sherlock Holmes pointedly observed, the answer is always right there in the open. What did Bohm say? Hide what is sought within the seeker because the seeker will never think to look there? Something like that. Yet I do stumble coming back through the south field, a little moonlight glinting on frosty grass, guided largely by the dog's breath, faintly visible in noisy exhalations. L. is awake - hopefully painting, possibly worrying about her mortgage - and I can hear the train two towns distant, working its way through the Adirondack foothills. A welcome darkness of which our passage is composed? Well, we can only push the ones we need so far before crawling back to them needy and broken. A nest of blankets in which her nakedness is better than coffee? Yes, that. I feel my way to where she is softest and whisper going down, every temple more welcome than the last.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hungry as a Child

Often I think of cookbooks, which cannot be written outside Love, or so I like to believe, the way others believe that Jesus died thinking of their sins. What an accounting we will someday make! The Shakers haunt me, as does the impossibility of imagining a world in which I am not. What happened that Awareness should have been so contained? In truth there is nobody - and no thing - to receive the accounting but that's not a comfort either. In the morning the winds are mighty like castles falling, or armies gathering, and the last leaves fall around me and Ursa Major rolls on his back, hooting at the deeper sky. Coffee and prayer and then the remembrance that we do not live by bread alone. "Such a repast, eaten in the light of a roaring fire, was pleasant enough in the simple long-ago." One moves in the direction of Love, stumbles, and rises again, lost. Lost! It is as if I want to be here on my knees weeping, or perhaps I was hungry as a child and nobody thought to feed me. Or is it just that we all must face a lonely season? Lost again. Still. My heart given to God, my hands wandering from project to project, pilgrims in a vast spill of darkness learning the hard way not just any light will do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Window I Am

Reheated coffee, the dog sighing on her carpet nearby, and faint violet of the sky before dawn. The window I am opens. Blue jays at the front yard maple stripped of leaves reference the hunger we are yet learning to abide. I want to use the word testament in a sentence. Witness? Also I am tired of all this lying. All day driving south, map sliding around on the empty passenger seat, remembering back when I drank and that was how the days passed, and still do. A disconnected phone is not a contradiction and drawn blinds made him feel safe who so often went where it was scariest just because. In the morning buffets of warm air put me in the mind of November mainly because they're not. The dog grows old, and I grow old, and the bluets come and go, but something is always there and nobody can refute that. How hard I have tried to find the one who will contradict what I know to be true! So many teachers who learned they could not grade me! Ruined in my bones and mostly shoeless but never not working the pedals. There are no hidden chapels, there are no secret chords. When I was a little boy I believed photographs were the core of God's plan for salvation because in so many instances they were all that remained. Words like dust drifting through sunbeams putting us in the mind of eternal. Go where it is darkest and wait? I mean beyond sheets, I mean beyond shoes. Now.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Pilgrimish Lust

The sky arches from one line of trees to the other - maple and pine-lined hills in the center of which I write and read and gesture vaguely in the direction of prayer. Is it honesty that separates sinners from saints or simply the willingness to step into a fire? I ascend Sam Hill amazed as always at what a self-righteous and insufferable prick I can be. "If you want to walk with me then keep the fuck up." Well, the dog still loves me, or seems to, which may be why I always keep them handy. It's no use complaining you're alone when you refuse to give anyone a reason to stay. Demanding, brooding, mocking, whining . . . "I got your list of reasons she left you right here." Most of my teachers have observed that we don't really need to know more than that one step makes clear the next yet I still can't stop preferring this one to another. Grace begets a pilgrimish lust, as splotches of green moss extend across a dozen roadside maples, each more ruined than the last. Oh roadside salt, what price have we paid for our so-called certainty? So I stop and turn back, so what? It's raining and I'm lonesome and I don't want to die alone.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Complexity as a Form of Love

One wakes at an unfamiliar hour, nudging the day before them the way a canoe gently shifts the lake even as it is carried towards the center. Trails of mist, a bass-eye view of surfaces and a sense one spent their midnight pacing marble balustrades. Oh moonlight tell me how to guide my kingdom home! I no longer want what I once wanted is now all that I want. The quiet deepens and something settles the less one subjects it to study. For example, the backyard dogwood tree altogether leafless and blue jays pocking the suet Chrisoula makes. Lessons hardly abound. And what I don't know becomes the elision in which definition yet readies its tangle. Inclination towards complexity as a form of love? Boughs of pine lifted, mergansers making a line north, sunlight after how many days rain? Awareness now of the risk inherent in both biography and history, clocks and calendars, which is to say the impulse to do away with them itself is gone. Is mediated? Lust wrecks the directive longing forever offers. There are dances, there are loaves of cinnamon bread, and there is the mail which though it never quite arrives is always here. Perhaps service is the willingness to be still in the face of ontological difficulties, in which stillness wordiness makes a not-unhelpful legend. Still. Maybe? I am saying not steps, but feet. Not maps but where we are, right now, together.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In the Spirit of Christ

I always knew there was another way but couldn't find it. Wouldn't walk it? Oh, who cares at this late juncture: rain and wind at 3 a.m., dog growling at the window. Foxes of the world be warned: we will not tolerate your thievery. In the basement guns whisper that haven't been fired in a decade or more. Our capacity for nothingness remains unoptimized. Just because I know my way around a Ruger .22 doesn't mean I want to use it. Three times before 5 a.m. I get up and look for stars and seeing none burrow back into a warm hollow of blankets and sheets. Better to rest than plumb the darkness and call it prayer. Coffee beckons but it's always been a shitty excuse for sleep. The truth is, I like a space where nobody calls on me, nobody wants from me. And is that grace? Is that service in the spirit of Christ, which this time around I'm bent on following? One can become very silly when insisting on the prevalence of a separated self, its prerogatives and appetites, its lists and stories. Oh me, oh my indeed! But bluets remain instructive, even in Fall when they're yet a dim longing. The pilgrim dawn finds me bleary-eyed and wordless in a barren landscape I can neither describe nor traverse. Prisms witness unto a language that remains elusive; bluets talk to me in my dreams. They say, The other way looks: the other way sees. It's okay, they say. And: it's more than okay.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where the Road Dips

Perhaps there is no 4 a.m.. Or so I think at 4:16, listening to Debussy in bed, the dog waiting patiently near my feet. Again one enters the divine again, again one ascends the lightsome spiral. We go outside in darkness, no stars, no moon, not even a breeze. "Oh westron wynde, when wilt though blow?" Rain is quietly polysyllabic in the welter of sentinel pines. One of the neighbors is up (and out) so we talk briefly about the recent influx of dead coyotes. "Enjoy your day" indeed. Water sounds where the road dips, and coming back, chickadees like tinsel rustling in shadows. Gifts abound though I often confuse them with lessons. Coffee as prayer, morning as church and me as the covetous minister. All relationships are holy or none of them are. Is that it? Some mornings nothing settles while others arise before you, gentle and sure as mist floating in off the river. I write and write but it doesn't always help. You want to get somewhere or is that you just want me to take you? Three hours later, a dozen or so sentences and still. Still.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Allowed to Dream Together

In the morning I scrub the eggs of shit and straw and saw dust. Slice an abundance of not-quite-stale bread. It has been a lovely fall for falling leaves, but now my heart must travel the bare branches and raw winds that nearly killed the pilgrims. The path emerges is one way to say it. The path is always there and at last we see it, is another. How quietly I scrounge the cupboard, looking for cinnamon while everyone else is asleep. Coffee nurtures a familiar prayer! Well, I am getting on, or going by, as we all are. Find a way to say yes to those who want to help, okay? A little rain spits hard on the glass, and I step outside with the dog to pee. There is no path, really: there is only this. How lonesome they must have been, but for the God they struggled to please. In the end it's better to let the truth be true. Soon it will snow, an old dream seeded with light, but one we are allowed to dream together. As hours later I make French toast, leaning over the warm stove, listening to the kids wonder who discovered maple syrup and how.

40

Suddenly - unexpectedly - the last of the month's moonlight.

And suddenly, dawn.

One imagines the interior of the echo of church bells.

One allows oneself to be written anew, again.

Whatever happens, direct all your thinking towards the one God, she says.

We walk past the old feeder ponds as the sun rises.

Fingers of red light extend from the east and the water glows faintly where the wind veers across it.

I tell her I am losing faith in the mail, which is to say I am losing faith that anything will arrive that will save me.

She takes my hand in her gnarled own.

I am silent now but for tears.

The fishermen we pass look away.

"You have chosen to become a traveler on the road that leads only to Peace," she says.

When I try to swallow my tears she tightens her grip on me, as if to say it is time to allow for crying.

The path is not easy, she says quietly.

Nor is it brief.

We turn slowly east, stopping to watch bass plash the shallows.

A heron steps gracefully through the water as if writing itself in the air.

You must give consent to the interior pilgrimage to where death does not exist and all beings in their wholeness are present.

She points to a birch tree leaning far out over the water, its pale reflection just visible on the rippling surface.

That tree was created so you would remember your sacred vow, she says, and for the rest of the morning is silent, still.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Love Is Not Contingent

Some lessons are about letting go, but not all of them. Some are about holding on, or holding on differently. Decidedly? Discerningly. It's hard to say when you're in it what it is, which is why sometimes distance can nurture clarification. Last night I kept stopping on the old airstrip to watch the moon behind clouds, a little light, less light, then suddenly all the light one could imagine. Seems is okay, but is is better. Though she was not with me, she was with me, and for the first time in maybe my life I understood that love is not contingent on bodies. What a sweetness one encounters at 2 a.m., what a stillness. Perhaps now my hands can build that cabin, write poetry by the stove, and die without making a thing of it.

39

Often when it rains I walk further than usual.

The ponds are impossible to read, and the tracks of deer soften and dissolve.

To be human rightly is to go with fortitude, which is to insist on clarity.

And patience always abides in the heart of the willing.

How long must I refuse umbrellas?

Water seeps into cracks in my shoes.

The deer grow still as I pass, waiting.

The badger ducks behind a fallen maple.

And patches of bluets fold their violet petals, as if to say I am not ready to bear the grief they bear.

Obstacles are the mother of patience, she says when I return to her too quiet.

A hidden complaint is still a complaint.

We bake bread in the kitchen without talking.

Four kinds of flour, sugar and salt in our cupped palms.

We make tea while it rises and pray.

Or rather, she prays and I watch her, stealing glances with downcast eyes.

Her mouth moves a little, often folding itself into little smiles, as if angels are whispering to her.

In the forest I wanted to be done with it: the spiritual search, the form it has taken, the wordiness that seems forever to attend it.

She is always quick to say that our yearning for peace is a gift, as is the means to make it the singular fact of one's identity.

She opens her eyes and says quietly, "patience is a form of charity and it is the only gift your brothers and sisters require."

When the bread is done and we slice it to eat, I ask if she wants to bless it, but she is already handing it to my daughters - everyone is smiling and happy - and she laughs and says "it is already done."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Sort of Groove

When I walk the same trail over and over it is repetition only at the most shallow of levels. Only someone who has never given attention to the fields and forests could call it that. A chickadee in this pine where yesterday she was perched in that one - that is a new walk. Helpful examples multiply (they always do when we are ready at last to learn): fox scat, seed husks, deer tracks, cloud patterns, pond color, brook sounds, fallen leaves, the wind through pines, dew, spider webs, spiders, and the slant of the sun, falling just so. One perceives the divine et cetera! What I am saying is that this kind of walking is in the nature of polishing a piece of quartz. Day after day one returns to it with the requisite tools: patch of flannel, patch of denim, water, vinegar, a brush. And polishes, which is to touch the same spot in the same way over and over, intentionally. Thus, a groove emerges, and a gleam emerges: the stone interacts differently with light. One perceives then with clarity (which is a form of gratitude) the spectral radiance. Which was always there? One enters - becomes - a sort of groove - and a clarity - and a shining emerges. A shine? Yet "emerges" is the fitting verb. The light of which we are composed is real but only sometimes reveals itself. Is it becoming clear? We walk the way we do because we are bent on bringing light there, which light is both literal and not literal, as "God" is both a word, an idea signified by a word, and that - nothingness - from which ideas emerge. We are bringing something out then? We are polishing, joyfully. Morning after morning I eschew "again" for the familiar trail, discovering as I go is always here.

38

Make your anchor fearlessness, she advises.

I am stringing blackberry bushes tighter to wobbling fence posts.

Every few moments I stop to say "thank you" or "yes."

She is kneeling a few feet away in tall grass, parting it here and there to peer into the shadows.

What is the world but fear and what is life in the world but fear?

She hums a little when she finds violets.

You cannot find fearlessness in the world, she says.

The end of fear is not here.

A hawk is visible in the distance, its broad arc somehow sad, as if testament to a hunger that can never be fully satisfied.

Last night I sat on the porch with tea watching clouds cover and uncover the moon.

How long until I remember that even stillness is in motion?

When I am finished with the blackberries, I gather dandelion greens.

She follows, singing songs from her country, in a voice that makes me think she is decades younger than she is.

If you consent to the existence of fear, then you will be afraid, she says.

It is a law.

If you would be delivered from fear, then you must make God - who is all Love - your only solace.

A butterfly I do not know the name of passes.

Last night the moon seemed blue at times, and at other times almost rose.

It is hard to give oneself only to the quest to remember God, and to trust solely in the beneficence thereof.

It is like stepping outside at night to study the moon, knowing in the morning you will need to tend the gardens and feed your family, and even though the last time you did it you learned nothing, you do it again, and again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

37

Properly understood, the bliss which we seek is everywhere - is always given - and cannot be had more or less (or better) in any other place.

Give attention to that form that most resonates within you and know that it is face of God revealing itself.

The deer in moonlight are hints of the divine.

The turtle scaling a fallen tree in the middle of the pond.

The fox licking its kits to sleep (which I only imagine).

That which is God - which is eternal and infinite - is bound to reveal itself.

Our longing for revelation its its longing to be known, the two longings forming a circular movement that excludes no thing.

When you are of the center that is everywhere, she says, then the question of what to seek does not arise.

The answer is given to the one who is ready to receive it.

I make corn tortillas for the kids, pile them with eggs and salsa, leaven the tea with milk and honey.

She eats with us happily, calling the children "my little birds."

To be visited in this way is to learn that we are all guests.

The inclusivity contemplated by Jesus is still essential.

Service is still essential.

There is a way to walk in the middle of the day and perceive every blade of grass giving praise.

And the robin and the oriole giving praise.

And the bluets and the voles.

The barn merely divides space in a way a now-gone builder perceived effective.

There are centuries-old nails in the brook, and tracks of deer in the garden.

One opens the interior gate and perceives the invisible path forged by the ones who went before and left a trail.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lonelier Than Seems Necessary

Living we enact fantasy. Are inflected by fantasy? We impose a narrative on life - is that better? But do we choose it or does it choose us? Is it given? The fantasy is specific and imaginal. The successful investor, the poor artist, the hounded criminal. The fantasy (which is imaginal) shapes us the way a map (is any image not cartographic?) shapes travel. We become as the image suggests: we see through the image, as through a lens: and move accordingly. And we end up in the wrong town maybe, married to the wrong man, and nobody reads our poetry or asks us difficult questions. Or maybe we are just lonelier than seems necessary at this late - this relatively late - juncture. But as the lost child dreams of being found, the found child - who is the held child, the fed child, the bounded child - dreams of a landscape through which she roams with wolves and wild horses, eating crawfish and honey with blood in it. There is no middle (no center), which means there is no way out. The backyard dogwood tree is lovely in autumn, its lemon-colored  leaves drifting this way and that and ever towards the ground. We are borne, we are lifted, and yet.

36

The fireflies come early this year.

Or is it the stars are especially bright, especially close.

She tells me to remember before sleep that truth will not forget the one who seeks only truth.

She tells me not to question form so intensely but rather to be thankful for "the multiplicity - the muchness, yes? - of Brahman."

The journey began a thousand times a thousand years ago.

There are caves in which fires are still burning, and mountain tops on which the mist is only now beginning to clear.

It is important to walk only that path which is one's own, despite the many that beckon, and the many walkers who cry out for aid.

Only then can the supreme happiness inherent in all form reveal itself and be accepted.

Before dawn, wracked still by the duality of pleasure and pain, by the sense that I dimly remember what I swore to forget, I walk slowly down the hill.

A firefly settles slowly down through rustling maple leaves into the tall grass, the chicory that is not blue now but the memory of blue.

"I want what I want" - what does it cost to say that?

The ocean runs up onto the shore and falls back.

Something within us is moving as well - rising and falling, rising and falling and - somehow - settling.

I close my eyes and see a fox tail soaked with dew.

A crow watching me from atop a distant pine.

Longing is only a problem when you allow it to become a pursuit, she says.

Let longing instruct you as to what is absent, and then discover for yourself whether it is truly absent or merely another example of spiritual forgetfulness.

She reminds me again that the path I have chosen teaches one there is no world.

The dog goes farther and wider than I do and comes back with her tongue lolling, her sides heaving.

I make tea quietly, drink it as the sun rises,  attending to the interior light, its wavering refulgence my own.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Stumbling Into Joy

What has happened to me that I long now to be warm? To sleep on sheets beneath blankets rather than in a ratty sleeping bag dropped wherever my eyes fall shut? I stay in bed sometimes until the sun rises, its fractured rays filtering through half-drawn curtains and childish prisms. Have you seen what light is made of? What dream of ruin and deprivation did I reenact before stumbling into joy like a bear? My brain is like a birch tree or maybe a chunk of quartz cleaned by a brook or even a chickadee resting at dusk in the pines. When I dream of broken-down cars, nobody needs to get anywhere. When I dream of burning maps, everyone is already home. Was it a thousand mornings of darkness and cold - walking with my head down hill after steepening hill - that taught me gratitude? Was my suffering real, a precedent unto grace? And where am I now that a cup of tea should be as broad and textual as the world? My body knows how to die, and so what remains but to be amazed? I remember in Vermont discovering a fox would lead me out of the world home. Now I can let them be, being no longer starved for symbols, and ready - almost - for the wordless this.

35

At dawn rabbits are visible in the side yard.

Mourning doves come to the feeder.

And I set out in walking prayer to discover what is real and what is false.

Be truthful in every way, she says.

Make truthfulness your practice and do not deviate from it.

Without this commitment to interior purity you cannot remember that the Divinity towards which you advance is already inherent in you.

I enter the forest in darkness.

Between branches of maple and oak, between boughs of sweet-smelling pine, stars.

Between stars, space, reminiscent of the sea.

What moves in you, moves in me, and that movement is God.

What longs in me, longs in you, and that longing is Christ reaching for God.

All morning I write, and see in what I write, only what I would disown.

When I am tired and cannot go on I bring the pages to her and sit in a wicker chair facing the barn.

She reads patiently.

She reads slowly - attentively - as if I have brought to her a scripture.

Thought will tell you it is understandable to keep some secrets, but that is not the right standard for the one who would remember God.

Secrecy is a form of cheating which can only render the mind a disturbed environment.

Misery awaits the one who refuses honesty, not because God is vengeful, but because sorrow and grief are the condition of refusal.

Who makes truthfulness their singular goal becomes pure without effort and who becomes pure in this way merits the holiness of Christ.

"That is the way to supreme joy and happiness," she says, as if we are only just learning it together.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Always Go Slower

For a long time I walked quickly. Some people actually refused to walk with me because I went so fast. It's true! But as I have grown older, I have slowed down. It's not a physical constraint but something else. I look around more. That is part of what slows me down: there is more to see, more to hear, more to smell. How grateful I am to this body which so perceives the world! It is a kind of love to give attention, a very gentle and non-dramatic kind of love, and like all gifts it goes both ways, giver and receiver made one. The smashed body of the possum at the end of Radiker Road, indentations in the field where yesterday were bales of hay, smoke from the wood stove, the way a loaf of just-baked bread can seem to float in your hands. I am not in a hurry anymore because nothing the world offers is less than amazing. It turns out that what I long called a mystery wants to be solved. It turns out that in the welter of attention it solves itself. And loveliest of all is that no matter how slow I go, I can always go slower. I learned that this summer watching a birch tree grow in the forest. How brief I was to it, as the cricket is to me, and yet how brief it was to the quartz stones jumbled about its roots. Was it eternity I glimpsed in that moment? Or merely a stillness confused with ideas about Heaven? I am a fool of course - and anybody who listens to me is a fool - but oh what a sweetness fills my days! And always there! Waiting on notice!

34

This poem is part of a particular subset of my twenty sentences project. It began here, and the most recent piece is here. Several dozen were given this summer but I am only now getting around to sharing them.





Want does not enter into it.

The level of opinion - which can be either right or wrong, or anywhere in between - does not enter into it.

You must make Eternity and Infinitude your companions always, without regard for your pleasure or convenience.

It is in the nature of rain for flowers or grain for the chickens.

Without attention given always to a loving God you will proceed only in circles on trails that do not lead anywhere.

If you remember anything, remember this.

So I go out walking before the sun rises.

So I stand near the maples and listen to the soft pop of night crawlers coming and going in the dew.

There is no silence like the one to which I attend in her presence.

The brook can be heard a mile or more away.

What is familiar is new in the light of her teaching.

I walk slowly east - into the field, down the hill - to the old fire pond in which beavers now swim.

Silver trails stream behind them, rippling faintly in the almost-light.

We contain the teacher but disown Her through projection.

She comes back gently - insistently - in the form we can manage.

This is a form of want, which is a form of resistance, one that I am reluctant to surrender.

Last year I gave her only leaves from the backyard rose bush but she is early enough this year that I may give her the pink flowers themselves.

I walk back slowly, sad that she will depart soon, and sad that I am sad.

She is waiting for me near the stairs and makes a space to sit beside her.

She says, child of God, if you are able to love God with your whole heart then it is the consummation of all Love, and you need not worry again.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Kind of Sideways

Some times it seems as if I am forever driving to New Hampshire, or maybe it is always summer 1983, or are all landscapes rich in sunlight and hills and conversation.

I cannot now be where I was not, nor anticipate a future I have not already seen.

The jasmine tea grew cold while he wrote, falling leaves making a whispering sound against the window to which he only now and again could give attention.

Perhaps embellishment is inherent in the epistolary impulse?

The neighbor's steer cried out repeatedly, its low wails echoing up and down the hill in a way that foreshadowed its death, its bloody transition to steaks and ground meat, and one could not help but respond.

Feelings of course are information, that's all, data points in the always-constellating self.

Sometimes it seems as if the very memories of which I am at least partially composed are bound in no way to time nor - by extension - to the me so invested in them.

How I love photographs!

Revelation when it came was in the nature of a ripple - a ripple at dawn in softest light - silver and whispery and faint - and all my acid trips and related inducements were an impediment to its reception.

Frost on the barn roof glittering in moonlight a reminder that I am rich beyond belief but curtailed as always by my insistence on possession.

My resistance to rhyme?

In the paragraph one assumes a new responsibility, one through which light passes as through a clean prism, to emerge both radiant and bright.

The salt in us appears at our most sensitive moments, testifying again to the vulnerability of the body and - somewhat less obviously - our abiding relationship to oceans.

A passing she could not bear, no matter how fine her boots, no matter how yellow her hair.

Resonant angels harmonizing with canines bearing life a kind of sideways.

And yet you cannot sell God and grace is neither lucrative nor subject to design.

In my dreams, the word "pellucid" and - again - a sense of hippocampus breaching.

Praise is not unlike foliage in autumn: vivid and impressive but oh so brief and forever reminding one of gravity and earth and what is over before it began.

For I was happy then - it all lay before me - and there was no sense of the brokenness and holiness that would later appear so complexly, confounding my movements and leaving me tangled in bottles and sadness, battles and grief.

Yet he he carries it with him for you still and the world resounds accordingly.

The Way Itself is Bread

The big dipper leans slightly south, a precarious spoon balanced on the horizon, a sort of beckoning, or even begging. West - a mile perhaps, maybe less - two dogs are barking, a raucous tenor I associate with bear coming too close to bird feeders and barns. My own dog circles a corner of the field near bent and frosty cattail, waiting to see if I am going deeper into the forest or only turning back. How sensitive she is! And when I hesitate too long she decides for me: back. That is when I notice the constellations, especially the ladle that since earliest childhood went marked with such care. All the stars are reedy in moonlight whose sheen precedes me in a luminous arc. Who gazes upward stumbles, while who studies his feet goes slow but sometimes wanders. Is there a better way? Those dogs keep up their racket, and I picture the old boar lumbering up the hill away from Watts Brook, unalarmed but still hungry. It is hard to focus on Ursa Major, being so early given to the image of a spoon, yet that bear is finding its way too. I guess we all are, is one way to think of it. Or is it simply that we need a meal? The familiar utensil is empty but oddly I have never starved. Perhaps the way itself is bread? Or maybe what we are in truth is not a point of light at all but rather the darkness in between, making the light possible. How happy I am between all these crumbs, sufficient in my bones and shoes!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Preponderance of Crows

A preponderance of crows in October as if there were nothing else to write about or is it simply that one gives attention in a certain way and so sees crows, so sees this? Somebody - Loren Eiseley perhaps - considered crows analogous to bad memories, but it's not so clear. Are we saying that tricksters cannot always predict the outcome of their play? This morning in the field - two a.m., moonlight redounding off already-thinning frost - a coyote watched me walking south, an energetic furry stillness until the dog drove him back into the forest. Nouns are not destiny though from the sentence's perspective one could be persuaded otherwise. I remember that afternoon (a quarter century gone now), hearing the distant - the unseen - crow's cry and writing the first decent line of poetry I'd written since leaving Europe. And now this, and this writing, as if it - as if I? - never left.

A Sweetness Some Mornings

Some mornings you sit and watch clouds pass the moon and it's a sweetness, it's more than a sweetness. Some mornings you stand in the rain waiting. How warm the bed is when she enters, pushing aside the old sleeping bag, getting down to sheets, the dog and I sitting up until she's ready, then snuggling down into heretofore unimaginable bliss. Grated apple and crushed banana in the pancake batter, smell of day-old coffee and the kids playing poker, nothing wild. Ragged flannel bathrobe cinched tight against the cold while you write, nothing in particular, same old words, but still. This, that and so forth is often just fine. On the cusp of sleep a crow cries and farther away one answers - or is it the same crow flying away calling me to follow? In my dreams pieces of silver and disciples lugging baskets full of bread and broken penny whistles. Homemade suet with fat from the pig attracts more than just birds, don't it? We walk up the hill slowly, shivering because we didn't bring hats, and don't even see a deer in consolation. Constellation? A lot happens in what we are calling awareness! The neighbors calling a lost dog, your lover baking squash bread, Mason jars filled with a thick sweet cream, marbles left over from childhood, yours. Who opens goes slower unto graceful cries coming. Is it me or is the goldenrod dying faster than usual this year? Last night we ran outside at the cry of geese, wondering would we see them in the moonlight and we didn't but it was okay, we were breathless, we were alive, we were honoring all the right things. Embrace the epistolary impulse and be done with it! Between acorns in Holyoke a crayon, four pennies and a condom. The Buddha says "your move Jesus!" He wrote as always just outside the prophet's tent, one eye fixed on the gathering storm.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Just After Sleepless

Two a.m. or just after - sleepless, wordy, and thinking of Her - I slip outside and head for the old field. Early October is a kind of fulcrum, a kind of kiss you can't quite say you want. Yet the dog leaves a trail in the frost beneath moonlight, one that I follow without thinking (though very much with - or in - awareness). Tracks have always mattered to me as a kind of narrative: who passed, how they traveled, where perhaps they were headed. The big dipper balanced just so, its ladle touching the horizon. The map is everywhere, and the territory a dream, and yet. Are we always being pulled towards decision? Towards remembering a decision? I bend south and slightly west onto the old airstrip, walking slowly, wondering who - if anyone - marks my going.

The Brief Monasticism

Something resembling sickness drops me into sleep around 8 p.m. and I wake up twice to dreams of a particular but not distressing failure. Nor can I discern now: paragraphs or sentences or what. Well, at 5 a.m. I stumble outside with the dog, still hunched over, still wishing I was in bed and dreaming.

My father thumps me hard on the back, a reminder of how strong he was, and is, and all the years testify. Jesus died on a cross and his body was eaten by dogs. How happy I was in the co-op last night, buying butter and flour and cheese, and how little there was to say!

Thus tea, a small bowl of cereal and - yes - material for teaching which one reads late, but hopefully not too late. The sentence looks to the image while the paragraph anticipates discourse? You can say anything and believe it, maybe.

Maple leaves pasted to the grass, chrysanthemums dying despite being move to the shed and the requisite geese moving faster than usual. In south Worthington the other day I pulled over driving to watch somebody's flock of pigeons imitate a falling veil, a windblown curtain. We find our way by stars, and sometimes our stars are other people.

The dog waits patiently for me to go back inside which sooner or later I do. Everyone sleeps beyond what's regular, and I pad around the house quietly, feeble but attentive, enjoying the brief monasticism. Illusions abound to no real effect which is to say there is only ever one thing.

Certain questions I have yet to answer, as certain approaches to kissing have yet to be opened, yet to be loosened. The kids laughed when I said I woke up at two a.m to go see the moonlight on frost but I was teaching in that moment and honesty matters else nobody will remember. The world's gifts multiply but all most of us do is face off with another screen.

It's what then, Wednesday? It's cold where I write, where I am nearly finished writing, unsure if I said what was given me to say.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Kind of Limitless Envelope

At midnight the dog asks to go out and I follow her with cold tea, drag a chair to the maple trees. No stars, no moon. Saturday will dawn rainy but for now a faint mist pushes up from the pond, visible when cars drone by on Route 112. Something is happening, something is giving way.

More and more I turn to the old ways of doing things: bread in the dutch oven, an axe on the trails, candles by which to write. I am struggling now to say it in a way that is helpful, knowing as I do that what we say is not - not really - needed anymore. I can't get past Molina's similarity to Neil Young, which feels imitative (my interest is in the limit he hit, a mystery the other side of which he never found). Ecclesiastes a kind of navel as the uroboric fantasy is never entirely ended.

Conviction of any kind is problematic (though I am mostly thinking spiritually), as wordiness is too but differently. In the dark, I can't say what color my coat is but I know what color it is, see? Putting up peppers and apples we talk about what we didn't do in our twenties, which is a comfort of some kind, though precisely how escapes me. She is part of the epistolary impulse, which is part of the impulse to define, both of which I am - as yet - still working through.

A sort of silence beckons, a sort of singing. I never know what is next but language always takes me there and never leaves me bereft. What a comfort to know that our bodies know how to die! And kissing, too, is a kind of fulcrum, a way of delineating the edges of perception.

Boredom has always been a problem, the only real fixes for which have been writing and hard work outdoors. You go further and further and think this must be it, this is where it ends, but no, there is always another turn ahead. Collecting anything (quartz, say) is simply a way of slowing down what naturally rushes, what naturally functions as a kind of limitless envelope. I mean, once you write "unmappable" you've mapped it, and so what - what - did you really mean to say?

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Train I Am On

I have known bleakness. There were mornings my feet went through the ice. There were waitresses who did not smile when they poured my coffee, who did not care that I was writing writing, shivering and writing.

And cigarettes accompanied me through Europe, and it is possible I have a son in Ireland. If you miss the train I am on indeed. Well, the 1960s didn't look that way when they were happening but we tend to learn that particular lesson too late.

I remember her saying "you keep the best parts of yourself to yourself" and then walking out the door, her feet echoing on the stairs. Years later when I went back her husband owned a bowling alley and we kissed a little behind it, sharing a cigarette in the late November snow. We think cameras follow us but it's only the idea of memory.

Cold moon not smiling back in October means a long winter pending. You think you're this, it turns out you're that, and only years later do you learn there wasn't any difference between the two. A photograph would have moved us closer to what you think you wanted but we're past that now, we're into language.

Past that now into mangling? A fox watches me every morning when I stumble through the rainy field, still working off the last of the wine, trying to find the right place to stand and listen to leaves fall. Nobody goes with me and nobody ever did and I'm used to it but still.

That letter keeps intimating it will come and yet every morning the mailbox yawns and spits its emptiness back at me. You can spend lifetimes rocking on the porch, trying to find the right words for a moaning train forever rumbling west. I won't see you naked and you took the part of me that writes and made it your own but what else is new.

He used to write at night when everyone was asleep and even the dog was annoyed with the clatter and typing but now he watches movies. And this will have to do when so little else has, my dear, this will have to do.