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 1960's 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.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Dog's Way of Loving

I am given now to the end of secrets: the form of anything is that which I can accept without embellishment or hiding.

At 4 a.m. one's limitations are simply leaves falling, or the sound of rain against the windows, or the twentieth sentence moved to a new location.

I walk slowly down the dirt road, stopping to listen to leaves falling and the soft rain which - how do I know these things, yet I do - will intensify before I get home.

A dog's way of seeing, a dog's way of loving?

You see, what is true is beyond the self - is the space in which the self plays out, like ripples on a lake's surface at midnight when you are still asleep ashore and dreaming.

And it stopped me - how she called me "honey" - the kids laughing at my stunned look - and I nearly dropped the pickles - yet my heart moved and perceived again the vastness in which love is that which accepts without condition or qualification (without specialness) all of us.

It is possible one cannot say thank you enough to Emily Dickinson, though staring dreamily into the night sky when the others are asleep does suggest a sufficiency of gratitude might one day be discovered.

Order is more helpful than drama now and - paradoxically - dissembling rather than narrating.

How often my silences are misinterpreted, as if the wordy are somehow bound to a degree of chatter unbecoming a disciple of chickadees!

He did wonder where she was in her cycles, hoping as always for that one walk in which the last of the foliage signifies no-death-in-dying in the fulsome rays of the Hunter's moon.

Note to self: consider a monograph on the psychical intersection of lycanthropy and menses.

Drunk on the lake, whispering while we kissed because you said sound travels which - were my head not always up my ass around women - I might have figured out was a sign.

And my son goes a step beyond: starting fires with flint and steel.

Cheap wine is all I can afford these days (oh whiskey how I miss you), drinking it from a mason jar while the others are asleep, fumbling as always through my sentences.

I look okay naked but let's face it: forty-seven is forty-seven.

S.'s photographs are informed by her gift for attentiveness, which she can only talk about slant, which is a hard way to live but in the end the only joy.

I woke up thinking of the story we tell about him - the container we all make for him - and saw at last it was our own narrative projected in order that we might ignore its constraint, and so stepped quickly out the back door - shivering in the 3 a.m. rain - that I might not forget: me too, me too.

Crows have always kept an eye on me, which is no compliment.

Don't forget that the interfold between personal and public is unavoidable, especially for idiots masquerading as monks.

For I left my boots in the rain but it's okay, it's more than okay, because the journey is over, the man without shoes married a cobbler!