Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Wedding All Over Again

I say "no" a lot, or am perceived that way, and yet my "no" is in the nature of the "no" black bears embody, i.e., it is an insistence on a "yes" that remains obscure to - yet not unappreciated by - the one who wants to visit, have the vision, et cetera. Chrisoula cleans the house but leaves Husserl where I left him, on the dining room table with directions to the funeral home for a book mark, and is this not the wedding all over again. I knelt to pray, conscious of those who watched, and knowing that my father needed me to be elsewhere. The water was cool, the cup smooth and plastic, somewhat reminiscent of the 1970s.

I was only briefly writing in the old hayloft, most of the day passed teaching and driving and wondering when I'd get around to reading Henry. Shall we next inquire into the origins of extremism, which transcends race and religion? "Everybody does it" is a valid data point but there are others and one wants to be thorough, one wants to be aware of when they are not aware. You have to play the guitar you're given, not the guitar you can't afford.

Three times in five days now - about thirteen hours or so in toto - given to the turnpike which runs east to west, beginning of the day and late middle, and using the rest areas to pee and stretch but not buy food. He died early in the morning, his son was present, the one who later said at the funeral "we're free spirits here," and urged me privately to cherish whatever moments are given, no matter how hard they are, no matter how much I wish they had been given otherwise or to someone different. One parks where crows are visible picking at trash, one wonders at the language they use, and briefly envies the form of their intelligence, however unknowable, however marred by our innate habit of projection. So I am a monk after all, thank Christ.

The rooster begins carrying on at two thirty, a sort of kamikaze crowing, given the willingness of foxes here to hunt on the village side of the river. One does appreciate a comfortable rocking chair, one does want to put their feet up. Discerning writing projects is an art unto itself, the form they will take is often obscure, and decisions to have to be made before beginning, which few of us are willing to accept much less actually make. Hamburgers with bacon, trading garden lettuce for eggs, and Chrisoula's famous eggplant pizza, among other delectables.

Sooner or later we learn to navigate funerals, always with an eye on the one we won't navigate. Not every stage needs a singer! If I never see a black bear again it will be okay because they're there, and their thereness is sufficient, it's more than sufficient unto my here (which is their there - you see?). Well, goodbye, don't forget to write.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Upon Arriving Home

Fionnghuala brings me daisies for the little vase my mother used to keep in the hallway so many years ago. One can be happy, unexpectedly, or is it like clouds clearing to remind you Sol never left? Even in rain, light. Books lay in piles across the floor of the old hayloft, oddly less comforting than one had expected, less like a text and more like that which begs for a text. Do all stragglers experience regret upon arriving home? And what does home think, if home thinks at all? How tired I am of special men - Jesus and the Buddha, say - of our penchant for following them, idolizing them, and how tired I am of history, the inevitable result of such specialness and inattention, its sprawling reckless skeins of narrative. Imitation is a form of violence! On the other hand, sturdy shelves, sturdier floorboards. Everybody is a child, everybody is in motion, everybody is responsible one way or the other. Briefly traffic overwhelms early a.m. bird song, briefly one is annoyed thereby. Masquerading briefly as in need of help? Well, in prayer anyway, and on a zafu no less. It passes and what remains is the same lilt - same melodious call - I have never not heard and still - and getting yet stiller - can't say what's being said, other than this. This this.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Given Back Et Cetera

Wanting what is not presently here fills the gap - is essentially what is here - which means there is no gap - which we don't want to see because what would we do then? The nothing-to-do is always confused with what is presently being-done perfectly consistently. You can't talk to eddies in the brook, but now and again they briefly embody otherwise, most recently and notably as Emily Dickinson. "None suspect me of the crown" indeed.

Recently I am aware of that which is forbidden - certain women, certain spaces - and it makes me smile, it makes me order hamburgers, it makes me change the batteries in the mirror ball. For example, the upper room, which I left to itself for six months - then entered - the old hayloft, and it takes a long time to walk across it, and some part of me cannot handle largesse, cannot say yes to the blessing. Where is the forest to which to run if not in the interior and if it is in the interior then why do I so often lose it? Foxes swim across the river, laughing on the other side because I'm still too damn scared to get my feet wet.

Hey look, the man without shoes now has six pairs! Suddenly I can't remember did she write about black bears, and not remembering is a form of emptiness - a gap - that is here but still, did she? He can't leave the chair now, has a way of humming that replaces speech, and still I understand, and still I sit quietly waiting. Thursday never comes, nor does tomorrow.

What really blows my mind is birth - not the body being born - but suddenly waking up to this self, to this world, to experience. "I was just stopping by," he says, adding "I like what you've done to the place but what are you doing to do in it?" One can't get any clearer or cleaner so when it comes to soap and meditation, have fun, play, invite a friend but for Christ's sake stop thinking something right or necessary is happening. I do know that she wrote about her "freckled bosom" several times, usually with indifference, usually knowing that a man wouldn't have had to worry that question.

Saddle up, we're going for a ride! You may have noticed that consummation isn't my strong suit but hey, the textual - the wordy - foreplay is kinda divine, yes? Carey and I talked about the prophylactic nature of boredom, which remains the mode, sort of. What "I" am is this yearning to yearn for experience admiring itself. Given, accepted, given back, et cetera.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Garden Before Walking

Watering the garden before walking through the meadow to the park, swinging with the kids, cornfield in the distance knee high and green enough to make my throat ache. A blue balloon left over from last night's party drifts into the ferns. There is so little to say! Now there is less! Even the shadows are made of feathers. Once there were candles, once there were maps, once there was a harbor into which the faithful prayed to be delivered. Text is grateful for but not contingent on the envelope. Faint rainbows as the water falls, swallows circling cabbage leaves so soft your lover could sleep on them.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Soap Bubbles of Love

Suddenly the text declines to be contained - by bodies, by books, by the sky. Et cetera. The moon falls through its own light, my arms become transparent, and that which I once longed to clasp becomes the latter half of a long sentence, this. Trailing bird song, distance eternally swallowing ideals, all morning sitting quietly without me. Without me, no you, and without you, no me. In a lot of ways, hell is just blind reliance on pronouns. The lovely but unwieldy whole, the way peonies own the sadness we sought for a thousand lifetimes, and cheap coffee and cheaper wine, and a place to go that is nobody else's. No more poems about fireflies please and also, stop pretending you can't see in darkness, how else do you know to call it darkness? Michael's elephant takes Michael's road to Mount Fuji, and I let him go and what remains. In the end, the map is that part of the territory the territory declines to be contained by. We were foolish but so what? Life is punctuated by weddings and funerals and really they're just a way of reminding one to pause, to go slower, to notice briefly the joy that is never not attending. More chairs, thinner soup and the soap bubbles of love just multiply and glisten. You want a candle? You couldn't get more clean or obedient, you couldn't be a better girl. In terms of this - this this - nobody lit the way nicer.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pine Trees of Cape Cod

In the old field given increasingly to forest, an abundance of fireflies, a stunning abundance. What helps is not planning, even while planning, if that makes any sense. One night I was not alone, most nights I am. They are calling to each other, they are making sense of darkness. Who goes in for life, goes in for a funeral.

What we read by, find our way by. One dislikes bridges and canals but not engineers, not the workers who construct them. Ireland is not whole. At night when he sleeps he moans a little, and when I walk with him to the bathroom, his skins slips around beneath my hand. Gravity, entropy, et cetera.

Can you find the beginning or end of anything? Jake used to whimper in his sleep and I'd pat him, settle the dream, and he'd wake and look at me, which settled me. As soon as we name it, it's not gone, but we're not seeing it anymore, we're seeing the name, we're playing hide-and-seek with words again. Any act of will is violent and it is hard to see this and even harder to accept it. The pine trees of Cape Cod teach me how to obey.

Wake on Wednesday, funeral on Thursday, yet another sojourn down the ever-crowded turnpike. Holding her hair back as if knowing watching matters. You insist on us in ways that confuse and frighten me and I wish you wouldn't but don't stop, not on my account. Writing in the dark at 3 a.m., thinking I should maybe criticize smokers and other addicts less. This is my little green light and this is the darkness we're up against.

Friday, June 24, 2016

After Stargazing

My new office is the old hayloft, my new coaster a chunk of marble countertop dug from the trash pit unexpectedly discovered out back. Every generation has a different idea of what is necessary, what is dispensable, that's what time is for. The middle ground asks me to stay, to make no demands of it, and to give it away, no matter how confused the giving makes me. North means intimacy, north is okay.

We are working on the gutters now, and on the stairs rotting away after decades of rain. I am often translated literally, which is a mistake, since believe me, even I don't know what I'm saying half the time. The coffee was bitter, but that's what coffee is, or is it just that at a young age my parents taught me certain values? We call this low-resolution simulation home but it's not, it's what's already passed by our home.

Can thought go backwards - not think about the past but actually go backwards - or is it too subject to entropy? Michael argued there is no such thing as front or back, only spacious awareness, position-less awareness, to which I always responded, okay yes but it seems there is and, Wallace Stevens and his ice cream notwithstanding, "seems" is the show, "seems" is what we've got. Well, I am happiest when sex is a shared meeting beginning and ending in - gently annotated by - kisses. Jas talks about his pending vasectomy and halfway through says, you're the first guy I've talked to who hasn't cracked a joke, to which I respond, I never joke about penises, and Jas says, men who can't joke about dick don't have a lot of dick to joke about, to which I reply - perhaps a little too quickly - did you hear the one about the guy who taught his penis how to dance?

Those dreams of anger wake me still and I sit up in bed, listening to the neighbor's window fan, and wondering what has happened to make me so casual about moonlight. The letters come and go, coming and going comes and goes, and - oh hell, you know the drill. She bought me a coffee and even though it wasn't what I wanted, I drank it, and even though I'm tired of this kind of dialogue, we walked in a big loping circle around Northampton, talking about marriage and raising families and how exhausting it is to love the word "Christ." One feels threatened by certain biographies, yields, is brought to heel accordingly.

He said my lips were too thin for anyone to want to kiss, it'd be like making out with a pencil, but what can you do, the body you've got is the body you've got to both love with and let be loved. I stay awake after, stargazing, happy in a non-specific way. A little before six a.m. the ducks begin their guttural quacking, hungry and aware of the light, not unlike you-know-who. My new office is the old hayloft, I write beneath narrow wooden beams sparrows once rested on, and dust motes still drift through the familiar sunbeam, me.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Holy Sufficiency

Merton again, as if my plate wasn't already full. Yet at last this longstanding confusion between eros and agape clarifies a little, and a way in which the artificial division between them might be bridged appears, albeit dimly, albeit distantly. You know? That which is complex is essentially illusory, yet there's no harm in what is not real, and anyway, as Saint Thomas said (here paraphrased), the limit of our knowledge is to know that we don't know God. The swallows at dusk, their graceful swoops above the garden.

In some respects the work is one of translation - this belief system into that or rather the language of this belief system into the language of that. But one grows tired of it, and of the deepening uncertainty for which wordiness is only sometimes a salve. If only I'd taken up woodworking! The birds come closer to me - chickadees especially - and it is hard now to be unhappy, even when I'm unhappy, but loneliness - in the ontological sense - retains its teacherly prerogative. It's okay, it's how it goes, but still.

The second floor is a blessing but the stairwell is forever a reminder that the world is full of gallows and somebody somewhere is always being made to ascend. You can easily go mad on the trail of justice. One studies a pile of dense theological texts, mostly Christian, and thinks, not again. Chicory by the highway, daisies surrounding Dad's tiny raised bed garden, and the frail pink blossoms of the stubbornly abundant thimbleberry, all tickling the interior conviction that one is loved, held, grace-gifted, et cetera. Deeply, foreverly.

What we wait on is the everyday - the ordinary - returned to us is in its unadorned uncomplicated and thus clarifying simplifying essence. The narrative is nondramatic, and stillness - the seamless whole, the center-that-is-everywhere &c - precedes (by incorporation, by creation) perception. Bread calls on us to bake it, as poems call on us to write them, and we sing when we drive and insist on the heart as a metaphor, and none of it is a metaphysical problem, none of it needs to be solved or amended or repeated or undone because it's just what is, it's the holy sufficiency perfectly sufficing. How sweet and clear and satisfying when attention at last sinks into itself, not unlike the way when we trace our reflection in the water with a finger, the reflection disappears, transforms, is replaced by other, equally lovelily, patterns. Just this.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Describing the Reflection

What does a "theory-free description" look like anyway and can we describe it? Punctuation is the means by which both time and space enter the sentence. The book was closed, now it is open, and without my glasses, the text resembles still baby spiders. Nothing happens, including birth, including death.

Oh please read carefully! He wrote he wrote and thus touched infinity. Reflections in the lake can be described, but are we describing the reflection or that which is reflected? A miracle with your name on it waiting for you to remember your name.

The muskrat came up from the river and ate clover a few feet south of the garden. Amaranth is both fun to say and to see growing in the side yard so that's nice. A plan bereft of geese is no plan at all. The falcon passed over the meadow and with it went any sense the afternoon would not be touched abruptly by death.

You take my breath away which is not, all things considered, a good thing but still. Neighbors make inquiries, old friends reestablish contact albeit through outdated channels. One is puzzled to discover their intense alliance with cause-and-effect, especially given the relative absence of any good reason for it. No more metaphysics, okay?

There is no invitation in these sentences, no breathy yes, and yet. It's been years since I indulged ellipsis. In the lacunae one has no body and the orgasm is both endless and endlessly shared. Or not, I never know, being wordy but not wise, and given mostly now to walking alone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Brotherhood with all Snakes

Jesus is neither cause nor explanation but can in certain contexts be an example, broadly understood. The Buddha was not a Buddhist. Talking about Thursday the seamless whole briefly reminded me breathe, touch water, get naked, whatever works. We've already met so what's the point of either calendars or maps?

A little wind ripples the meadow and one feels regret at their commitment to undo it, to lay it out in sheathes, to gather them in like a threshing God. This summer I am bent on accepting brotherhood with all snakes, which is to say, I am officially beyond motives. One neither forgets nor accepts the text, being nothing other than the text re-cognizing text. Thank Christ for Lilian Alweiss, though one does wonder about her tendency to eschew periods, or forget them from time to time, in her desire to render the obscure clear.

Dusk falls while I mow their yard, the kids watering flower gardens, Chrisoula overseeing. Butterflies go nowhere, nowhere becomes a butterfly. How easy it has always been for me to talk, as if silence invented me just to better know itself. Feynman on the space shuttle, on fucked-up bureaucracy really, and dreams of countless rabbits, and at 4 a.m. a thunder storm through which I slept happily.

How simple it is to see beyond time, like pushing one's hand through their own reflection in a pond. The heron laughs at all our poems, being a motivated killer like everybody else. Leftover lamb with spinach, garlic, rice and curry and it doesn't help, not at all. Tom laughs when told I ordered a scythe from a guy up north, saying "don't forget the black robe."

The old fence is not salvageable so we move on to another plan, not without regret. At night the river is audible in a way that makes me wonder why we bothered inventing cars and trucks and planes and so forth. Strange to think how reluctant we are to die when we did not ask to be born, and cannot in any way account for what came before or what comes next. Stars falling, filling her mouth, and later the quiet song of those kept apart at last together.

Monday, June 20, 2016

We Fill Each Other with Prayers

I don't really go fast but am often interpreted that way. The tones comprising the crow's morning cries are so rich, so variegated, one almost forgets to write. Yet another job lost to lies, yet another highway crossed in tears.

When I was born it was snowing and my father was fast asleep. You remember the light in pine trees at certain times of day, and kissing boys your mother didn't care for, and all the while an invisible white swan was circling your chest, waiting on someone who would see it, me. The cherry pie was good, not great, but good and that's enough, it's more than enough.

An abundance of crushed mammals on the road east to the point where grief feels almost beside the point. The wind was too strong, everyone had one hand on their head to keep their hats from blowing away, but when I mentioned Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, nobody laughed. Oh effort, you are such a selfish lover!

The poem you want to write vs. the poem you do write vs. the poet others need you to be for their own obscure (and sometimes not-so-obscure) reasons. Dylan songs that don't grow old include Shelter from the Storm, I and I, Man in the Long Black Coat &c. I won't organize my books until they're all here and right now they're not, they're scattered, they're in exile in at least half a dozen basements across western Massachusetts.

The seamless whole again perceived and for once the perception remains - a sort of low level hum - and within it one writes, this. Every time the opportunity arose to stop and buy some McDonald's I didn't, I kept going. Roast lamb on Sunday and the grief one always feels having known the quadruped they're consuming.

That back-of-the-throat taste that won't let you forget what you've done. Oddly, there are no answers, not the way one expects, and you have to look at this clearly before acceptance of it actually settles. Write, don't write, but please, write.

In the morning, listening to crows, waiting on sunlight to reach the prisms my daughters hung while I was gone. We fill each other with prayers that nobody else can pray.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

More Prisms

Let's say there is a relationship between perception and truth, and that attention given to that relationship may be helpful or unhelpful, according to one's willingness to be permanently lost. The map is not the territory, but that doesn't mean we should discard it which - bear with me - doesn't mean we need to spend a couple lifetimes studying it either. When you kiss me just so in the dark.

On the other hand, accurate estimations of the Lord's capacity for intervention are not beyond the pale. We are carrying all these books, we are sharing all these ideas. The gate swings a little, creaking in sunlight, and the only daisy it reaches accommodates its coming-and-going without losing its essence.

One reaches a certain juncture and the words are no longer workable which means no longer desirable and so you heft a spade and keep notes on what grows and what doesn't and that will have to do and so it does, perfectly. The weather, the moon that in general we share a habit of describing, and the way you kiss me just so when the kids are asleep in darkness. Dust settles now in the upper room.

It must be time to hang some more prisms, no? It takes about four hours to drive to the Cape so you can get a lot of work done, but if you're not ready to work then it's just many miles and the rank smell of petroleum. The river up to my ankles, my knees and when I kneel, my chest and later yet - in darkness, in you - my shoulders.

We celebrate our anniversary unexpectedly, which is the new thoughtfulness. There is no yesterday for which I am more grateful. Ascutney is a pile of holy ashes and ascending it is a continual, a godless, genuflection.

Scientists can be such dicks but then so can poets, especially poets with a taste for theology, to wit, this. Nobody fares better than anybody else but that doesn't stop us from trying, does it? When you come with me, you'll see, and we'll buy something sweet and magnificent, an ice cream sundae to remember.

A sudden recollection in darkness prompted by her kiss. I said "those beans aren't growing for just anyone you know" and she said "I know" and we were quiet then, by the garden at dusk.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Defined by the Insterstice

A green world in which one doesn't have to learn to see yellow but does, naturally. Oh look, those daisies appear to be thinking things over, like mothers sending their children off to war. Hunger of any stripe will make you do strange things. Unrecognizable, even to myself! Let us imagine that one hundred thousand years of walking has bred into the human form a certain rhythm which emerges in certain complex musical forms to which dance is a natural response. Instant coffee in the back room in a house one couldn't have imagined, and yet helped imagine, literally from forest to this exercise right here. The trails are not unfamiliar yet one walks them less often, given now to labor, given now to relationship. How I long to see the New England ocean of two hundred years ago, the tall ships and their rifling sails, schools of cod so thick you could walk on their backs to Provincetown. A pilgrim inclination in which religion is no longer the obvious component. A trio of bass guitars, an unused drum set, brass wind instruments in a pile under the window, and wall hangings that made me wonder if a proffer of homegrown was in the works. In the distance, one perceives the foothills of the Adirondacks, and beyond that - in a hazy penumbra defined by the interstice of knowledge and possibility - taller mountains yet on which climbers routinely die. But not Husserl, never Husserl. Come with me to the river and let us see what we can see. The old bench no longer bears us ably, yet we decline to throw it away, being romantics and prone to nostalgia. There's always another picnic up ahead. J. said as we rounded the dingle "those butterflies know something we don't" and I replied "Christ a slug knows more than we do," which was yet another example of my social ineptitude, dickishness really, especially while walking and tracking my own thoughts to the point where I forget the collective is never not in attendance, never not aiming at coherence. Well, silence isn't all it's cracked up to be, nor is sex, but a good loaf of bread rarely disappoints. Let me throw something together and see what happens, okay? Maybe the bluets aren't gone after all. Maybe there's some jam in the back of the cupboard.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Quieter on Arrival

Not a blue morning, but one where the birds are slower to the feeder, and quieter on arrival. A long walk back to the house where we make love, "forbidden love" as they called it prior to the realization (the acceptance) that sex isn't a procreative function owned by marriage but a spiritual exercise, a means by which the collective both knows and remembers - literally re-members - itself. Those curtains aren't going to open themselves! Everything is matter (from the Latin mater, or mother) and subject to time (traditionally embodied as male, i.e., "Father Time"). We never talk about your menstrual cycles, nor whether you nursed your children, and all the other ways your body becomes you. I can't tell what undoes the self quicker: religion, which I have been gulping for nigh on four decades, or science, which I read last night in bed. Tea bags, onion skins, garlic bits, cherry pits - all of it goes in the worm bins - and comes back soil. Terri compliments my linen pants to which I respond, "one is never out of fashion at Goodwill." Repetition signifies meaning, or intention at least, or maybe we are only just now learning how to count. Such a sensitive throat! In my dreams I give birth to birds then walk through rainy streets to the apartment by the homeless shelter where the work began and the loneliness. We finish clearing logs, move on to bricks half-buried in the thimbleberry bushes. The bluets are gone, a consequence of letting parts of the meadow return to meadow, yet what is the function of this sentence? People laugh when I relocate milkweed, building a good-sized swath of it near the tansies, but I'm in it for the monarch butterflies, and always have been so, you know, fuck 'em. One perfects a certain smile, a certain know-it-all style as a means of deflecting attention. Else what are these illusions for? "Do me," she whispered, aiming for sexy but the phrasing intrigued me and I stopped and began working it out, who was doing who and how and the relative nature of pronouns in a coital context and then she said "oh for Christ's sake fuck me" and that was different, there was nothing to learn, it was just matter mattering in an exquisite way. Apparently we are subject to moonlight, hints of wings, and the everpresent emptiness that can only be filled - is always already filled - by itself. Yet nothing comes off, nothing opens, and nobody enters anybody. Oh morning, was this what you lit upon my hands for? This this?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dust Resigned to Trying Again

The hummingbird rests briefly in the apple tree above my head, a dark blur because my glasses have fallen to the grass, and I can't be bothered to reach for them.

The morning glories we planted are sprouting, as are the gourds, and the beans that we worried were taking too long.

Sol intensifies according to the earth's rotation, and one sweats digging bricks out beyond the thimbleberry patch.

A mourning dove mistaken for a rabbit, and the neighbor's cat worrying a squirrel and, as dusk comes on and the moon turns slowly from chalk to polished bone, swallows.

The doctor will not meet my eyes which doesn't bother me but on the other hand, what purpose does this sentence serve?

Many trees die in this narrow valley, three on land for which I am responsible.

A previous owner made wooden bowls by hand and from time to time in my spading I turn one up, dust it off, and stack it over by the duck pen.

There are Buddhas everywhere if you look.

The tarot book lent to Jason appears mysteriously in a previously-unpacked crate, along with half a dozen Hayden Carruth collections long since reassigned to the dimmest of dim memory banks.

In darkness before she wipes her lips I kiss them, deeply, gratefully.

The apartment across from the homeless shelter appears now in dreams, a clear presentation of the monastic oblivion through which I stumbled before drifting off to law school and marriage.

Sophia used to call it a "hossible," which made me happy, the way it rhymed with "possible," and yet she didn't like it when I smiled upon hearing her say it that way, because she knew it was supposed to be "hospital," which has no useful rhymes.

How many weeks since I cracked Emily Dickinson?

On the other hand, rereading "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" for the first time in three or four years, and making others read it, too, which is within my power and what is this but a benevolent application?

The calendar will eat you alive, spit our your bones, and the clock will pick at them until nothing remains but dust resigned to trying again.

The new mode fails me, which angers me, which is okay!

I tend to cry at night before Chrisoula comes to bed, quietly so as not to wake the kids.

It doesn't need to be hot or even close to hot for a fan to comfort me, which is why I call them all "Mama" which makes everyone laugh but between you and me, I'm kind of not joking.

Francis Bacon worried that "learned times have been inclined to atheism" which tended to impair the collective's "dependence on God," to which one can only say, religious whiners of the seventeenth century hadn't seen nothing.

Yet from the chemical perspective, all life is a unit.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Carefully Exploring A New Way

Writing as prayer, as a way of passing time, as a way of seeing what one thinks. Our bird-filled valley, our Emily Dickinson hill, and our slow-rising sun. Waxing gibbous moon between flaming mare's tails, the gray in your hair and my tired old knees. Bluets are a way of deepening grief, of seeing the world from the perspective of hurt without needing to heal anything, because hurt, too, is a form of perfection. Please observe the way in which life requires no rehearsal, no manual, no direction, and you are it, you are the show, the whole splendid unfolding display. Free will is just a slightly more complex form of - a kind of code for, really - the natural, the inevitable yes. Or this: tell me of a time when you were not facing uncertainty. L. says when I dance my eyes close and I look like a man carefully exploring a new way his body moves. Many dead birds and not a few butchered quadrupeds attend. In what way is my capacity for sorrow distinct from my capacity for joy or are they the same space, the same sea in different lights? One never sees two moons at once, nor steps into a pair of rivers, yet when her shirt falls my breath catches, still. The neighbor's asparagus goes to seed, not wasted thereby, but one can't help thinking of certain recipes. How dark it must be in a closed book! "Christ those pigs reek." Planting trees is a way of thinking ahead, or seeming too, while trees themselves are a way of emphasizing one needn't travel to get where they're going. We are always loving forward. How tired one becomes of the religious imperative, its specialized language, its habit of insisting on precious. Making love has a lot of names, some more helpful than others, and nearly all of them contextual. Only when mowing do I wonder when this damn grass will stop growing. Waking early is a way of being alone, or of seeing the way in which one is always alone and yet - at the same time, in the same way - always one with the collective. Nobody joins me for coffee but near dusk we did gather at the meadow's far edge to talk about our relationship with the new acreage. Suddenly the path is a series of gentle slopes. A little goes a long way? Well, a little chipped paint can't obviate the wall. When I close my eyes I can still see. You too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Unfamiliar Wildflowers

A trail of ailments is no way to be needed, though one's pant legs do grow damp in the meadow while scouring for unfamiliar wildflowers. "Take me with you" only works if you believe there's somewhere to go. Turkey vultures are plentiful and yesterday a falcon took a mourning dove from the feeder, a sorrow only if one insists on taking sides, which hunger never does. Sooner or later, fertilizer, and sooner or later the nothing we cannot imagine, which is the everything we long for. Bibles burn the same way dictionaries do and summer beach reading as well. It's all fuel so far as the fire can tell. Bouquets fill the house, reducing patrimony to finding and cleaning any empty vessel. Cut stems encountered in odd places, batted there by cats. Her art is vivid and the only thing that quietens her, while the other daughter takes to her room to work on fiction that she no longer shares with me. The tape measure does nothing really, but it's probably a mistake to say that tools are neutral. One does cherish the diner-like coffee mug, myriad Mason jars, and certain ceramic candle holders made by old women in Greece just after the war. The world is not given to us multiple times in multiple ways but only once and this is sufficient to encounter the divine - the desired - stillness. On the other hand, it is nice to eat ice cream while watching television and think about what might happen when she comes to bed. It is not an error to consider the other, even to make the other the object of one's adoration and service, but it is still necessary to be alert to the "me" that roils below the surface, a deep tide of sacrifice and possessiveness that obfuscates our otherwise natural lovingkindness. The peonies lean and lean and one's study of support intensifies, one's gratitude for stakes and grounds in which to place them enunciates its boundlessness, and thus the lovelily blossoms continue their sunward, their lightward climb. Like that, kind of, and for now.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

My Discarded Concordance

What does the moon perceive if not that which perceives it, else what is the collective doing? The unpossessed, unpossessing collective? We stake the peonies with pickets from an old fence dug out in the forest, the little that stands between us and the river. Trillium asked the impossible which was an invitation to reconsider one's experience of boundaries, limits &c. I'm on the far side of hills that Emily Dickinson once gazed upon, but that means nothing in the presently-constituting, altogether neutral geometry. What else is new? In other words, what is rerouted still flows, making in essence an argument for revising our insistence on this and not that habit of spatio-temporal perception. Erection? Well, that which can be set aside anyway, manuals be damned. Maple leaves turn quickly in the north wind, a sort of surrender, or testimony to the present's present presenting, the way hummingbirds resting in the apple tree witness unto a living God, its specifically masculine joy. Your used bookstore is my discarded concordance, bible as blanket for those inclined to fatigue and sleep and dreams. No more miracles, please, and no more talk about "healing" now we know there is only this perfection. We walk to our favorite bridge, lean on its west side and study in gauzy distance a trapezium-shaped garden. "Look," I say, pointing at eleven rows of budding green, "seams through which the Lord passes," to which Chrisoula replies, "your Lord is lettuce?" Later, in the cemetery, we paused by decades-old barbed wire and thought about the cows who once made quick study of this field of memorialized dead. Let us pray, let us now praise the worthy, and let us forgive the many adjectives which cheapen our discourse and dialogue. Where the path fades, one's feet become the teacher. Study shoes! Dance is the new religion, hence my love of mirror balls. It's the landscape that's moving now, shimmy and shiver, a passing show of light and fancy, while this stillness-beyond-language just watches, as happy as happy can be when there is no such thing as loss.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Given My Knees

M. suggests that nobody has ever seen moonlight, which is technically true - or you can see it that way - but also kind of perverse, like baking cupcakes and not sharing them with anyone. Before the storm, swallows cross the slippery gray sky, and robins hop between dandelions to the maple tree where a feeder hangs that last summer was broken albeit not permanently by a black bear we all watched from the bedroom window at 2 a.m. or so and still talk about, a family. What the mower misses lives a little longer, gazing across a leveled landscape at a torn seam in the horizon where the reaper both enters and departs, "the widow's door" my aunt once called it. Replanted ferns are not averse to shade while chives just make it work wherever you put them, like hippies or certain kinds of Christians. Mostly when we are in motion it is because some appetite moved us that way - wanting to sleep with someone or see what's on the far side of a hill or eat apple slices spread with peanut butter & c. Perhaps ignorance is an excuse. Well, distinguish between the appetite and the narrative by which we justify it and thusly see the way the world is merely - is lovelily - passing by. When the spirit says dance, put on the White Album, eat a few tabs of acid and see what your feet want from the rest of you. At the top of the familiar monadanock, windblown and sore, it occurs to me I haven't taken a step without Chrisoula in twenty some odd years and I keep touching her as we go down, sometimes for balance given my knees, but mostly in gratitude. That which is not unwelcome is not by definition necessary. Because I am not ready for him to die, I work all day in the garden, reinvigorating dormant soil with a third generation cultivator, the smooth wood of its handle at home in my grip like nothing else before or since. What the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh, but two can playeth at that game. Afternoon breezes moving curtains while I try to focus on my reading, idly checking email, and reaching - blindly still, but not unhappily - for the new mode of writing. Fertile grounds beckon, the sourdough starter eclipses a vessel's rim. Forever salted, forever yes but not the way we thought. Oh dear. When I say October, you say?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Subsequent Deepening

It's cold at Ascutney's summit so we don't linger, but a day later the familiar monadnock surfaces in all our bodies, in ways that remind us we are related and yet apart but here, right here. Always when I am discouraged with the state of raspberry bushes they suddenly exercise a prolific resurgence as if witnessing unto a forgiving God. There is the waxing crescent moon, the same color as the many clouds drifting roughly north to south, together reminiscent of chalk. The meadow discourages the neighbor's wandering chickens, a perfectly refulgent boundary protecting the garden, and an unexpected happiness. Cabbage leaves turn soft yellow and lay down in the heat, a garter snake slithers away when I upend gathered deadfall, and one is beholden - perhaps it was always thus, and will always thusly be - to traffic sounds at a distance, as if the highway longs for a certain traveler and won't be otherwise satisfied. Days pass and we study the outdoor oven, reflecting on another's labor and intentions so deeply at odds with our own, going slowly in the direction of a decision we know they wouldn't make. A subsequent deepening included the realization that there was fear, yet the specific incidents of it were like curtains which cause neither light nor darkness though to the uninitiated they appear to, and with that, suddenly, the specific incidents of everything (love, fear, joy, guilt, anger, play etc.) ceased to matter, though not to exist. Thus gassho, thus gassho rei. We plant morning glories in a rotting log, talking about natural patterns of seed dispersion, and how the desire to sit in on one of Husserl's lectures has made me forget all about sitting in on one of Tara Singh's. Crushed turtles, fallen dragonflies. After dinner we held hands briefly, and briefly I cried, overwhelmed by loss and its many demands, and so you took me to the bridge on the road between hills where we gazed for a moment into the river that reflected us yet never ceased to flow, and when you knew I knew it was okay, that it was more than okay, we walked home and I wrote you this. This this.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In the Nature of a Guest

Morning winds evoke both landscape and season other than what both map and calendar declare are real. Or here? The longitude between us is a frayed flag, coordinates one cannot put a hand on, not unlike those rows of fine chocolate behind the Parisian chocalatier's window in 1989, when I was even poorer than I am now. Reflections cannot be hungry, cannot experience craving, and yet here I am translating a dream of swans into sentences for her. Labor in the garden is a sort of middle finger to the specific death that looms now, the way yesterday thunderheads loomed on the northern horizon and hard winds tore maple leaves from twisting limbs. What the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh, but two can playeth at that game. When we hurt, we hurt, and when we are joyful, we are joyful, so what's the metaphysical fuss? There are paths to the garden through the meadow  on either side of which wild flowers blossom, unbeckoned but here, recalling the wild morning glories we used to find in Worthington, what seems like lifetimes ago. How vivid this moment of being! Also, how fast can you run and where will you go when you get there? Insight arrives in the nature of a guest, meaning that late in life - on the cusp of fifty - I have finally learned one doesn't solve problems so much as allow them to be solved, which is not an argument for a deity with agency but a recognition that what is is always this and this is always this this. Now will you give me that gift we discussed? That moment when you see how the specific is merely a label for the general - a sort of mask - so that there is not a woman for whom you lust, there is lust, and there is not a garden one uses to resist the fear of loss, there is fear of loss, and so forth. Suddenly briefly I found the stillness Tara Singh spoke of, and wanted to tell him, but he assured me that notice was not necessary. Not quiet, not solitude, but a sort of untouched center that touches the world and everything in it. Well, the mountain does ask to be climbed, and my feet are not averse to that particular journey, are in fact quite good at it, the implication clearly being that in a past life I was your sherpa. Beware of explanations, especially explanations that resonate, where resonate means you really like it, you want to take it home and kiss it on the mouth. Up we go, in the many ways up implies. In the interim, one adopts the mien of a treasure hunter, a satisfied treasure hunter, a retired treasure hunter even. Come closer, okay? It's all about whispers now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Rows of Pumpkins

At 4 a.m. the clouds open and a mild deluge pours out, briefly a sufficient reason to stay in bed. Vivid dreams are a feature here, yet one declines related semiotic adventuring. Actually, the tarot cards do read themselves, why do you ask? Your back is solid like a barn and warm like a cat yet when I turn to it in darkness you turn to me and open and it is like suddenly a new country, one where the metaphors fail me. Let us become cartographers, let us blaze a scenic trail into the sun! There is the fundamental insight into the nature of reality which subsequently deepens, becomes more broadly applicable, allowing one to see the way they are always excluding something under the pretense of love. Feigned accents, falling to my knees with arms outstretched, reheated coffee in chipped mugs, imitating mimes, lying about tap dancing lessons and other tricks. Antique lamps piled on the back porch, the meadow falling over in rain, kale and lettuce breaking soil - in other words, what works, what doesn't work and what is there to teach us how to embrace the world (though not in that order). In this new valley abutting the river one finally hears an owl call from several places at once, as if to put the lie to the supposed constraints of space and time. Upon waking there is still no word from her hence it must all have been imagined, kind of like my childhood on the  farm. I dream of rows of pumpkins and one with whom to share them but also the dream is sufficient unto itself and is only possible because of the presently forming perfection. This presently forming perfection, where "perfection" simply means "this this and not any other this." See? To overlook anything is to look at something else which hardly matters to looking. Yet another way to get there is to ask what purpose the subject/object division serves and then carefully write out the answer as if leaving instructions for future generations. Recipe as suggestion not mandate is one of the hinges upon which love turns. Be devoted to that which asks for your devotion and let the semantic constructions do what they will, which they always will do anyway, and your home will be warm and full of soup, and all your visitors grateful.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Composed in Unfamiliar Settings

If I am the leaves falling, torn from the tree by wind or a passing truck, then that hurts. This is the world into which I awoke, and you are over there, and when the wind moves across the lake the lake fills with a liquid script, and when the trains are finished running they rust in yards that nobody visits. Perhaps our grandmothers loved the same bible passage, repeated it quietly in difficult moments, the funerals of children, reports of war between radio static as the night came on through the hills. How slowly I go, as if my body were already turning to stone, as if getting anywhere were no longer an objective, as if leaving was the one thing left to fear. The garden after heavy rain, the meadow laying on its side, and the foxes whose den is near the old cemetery, who cross the road before it is light. One's head fills with sorrow, with lepers composing an essential poetry of loss, with fragments of songs. Perhaps we are forgiven. Perhaps we are simply radiant dust briefly functioning in a patterned way, where "patterned" is a form of longing, a belief that order somehow includes "us" in a longed-for way. Digressions as a form of repetition, lust as a call to go home. Where "one" is a way of speaking, a conceptual shortcut that distracts us from the real problem of shoeless feet perennially disinclined to travel. Barns come and go, the swallows come and go, and childhood comes and goes but you, you do not come and go. Thus our bed grows smaller, and the ghosts of many dogs float across it like bell-shaped clouds, like sentences composed in unfamiliar settings. I meant to say that sentences composed in unfamiliar settings enlarge themselves, as if to lay claim to the spatial encumbrance (which is merely psychological) or perhaps as a fixed response to some interior arousal dictated by causes that one intuits only because results appear - because this appears. This this. Upon what is the subject/object divide contingent? Why say anything at all? When you love the killer as you love me, then you will know what love is. In the interim, one constructs a fantasy of October, situates the body according to what appear to be mutually-agreed upon laws, and writes what is there to be written. If there is anything else, do tell. Piano notes recall one another, as envelopes recall the letter, and the letter recalls the one who wrote it, what seems like years ago, even now.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Dark Between Stars

Unread essays - Alweiss and Marder in particular - float across the desk revealing stained pie recipes from my mother and notes from my father's last doctor visit. One school argues there is only matter while another argues there is only consciousness and while I've spent considerable time in both camps, learning the terms and conditions from smart and admirable residents, I am more and more inclined to the former, mainly because it's easier to garden, raise bees and chickens, and bake bread and so forth. Keep it simple, or keep simplifying and see what you end up with, is one way to do it. Jack (an Appaloosa cross) declined the grape until we peeled it but later handled a series of small fences with grace. Nineteen fifties east coast jazz certainly tests the theory. Asimov points out with respect to the evolution of self-replicating molecules that "[t]o have this happen on the basis of random chance seems to be asking a lot, but then a billion years is a long time." God does love a good mystery, or so one says having spent most of Sunday school mentally composing love letters to girls, only some of whom were Catholic. At last it rains, leaving me in the back room with piles of reading and insufficient clarity for a sustained writing project, leading to this. Or is one always writing love letters? This this, right? Shadows attend, which is another way of saying there's a light around here somewhere! Antaeus begs another interview (this is getting tiresome, no?) so we go to the garden where I am preparing a few hundred feet for potato starts and he is - he is always - silenced in the presence of labor. There is no such thing as mindless, no idea is ever lost, and sentences are like the dark between stars (which is a kind of light because we can see it). Do you know who you are? How grateful I am for the work of Loren Eisely, how hungry for the coarse and fulsome grain his wordiness embodied. The upper room remains crowded, in need of attention, but presently I am a gardener though tomorrow I slip back into teaching. Coarse hands gesticulating while exploring the problem of evil and the necessity of using the comma correctly. One can imagine them anywhere, slow but willing, given direction. Nothing is unrelated in this world of recalcitrant protoplasm studying itself and struggling to remember it's okay to have fun doing it.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

All the Reasons One Kneels

Catbirds use the bath we set up, while the chickadees are God-knows-where. This intimacy has become just bearable. An afternoon studying the behavior of cardinals, and the tendency to play favorites, with birds and everything else. Husserl presses you to look closer at what's right there, and to ask - yes, this is the question - upon what is the subject/object division contingent? You are that, and everything else, too. The road turns and we come upon a pair of does in the road, which somehow makes the past feel like an oil painting from which I am only just now emerging. Let's go for another ride! But we are always right here, aren't we, and thank Christ, thank Buddha, thank Chrisoula. There is a place for every tool, and a use for it, and one who knows both place and use, and how lucky are we to find her, or him, and thus I kneel gratefully, for all the reasons one kneels. The pheasants of childhood are gone though as recently as four years ago I was out there with a shotgun hunting them. A blunt spade is a bad spade we agree, where "bad" means "unfit for what you need it to do," a qualification that would become problematic quickly if extended beyond this garden. Morning turns to afternoon, where "afternoon" means remembering the moon from a few days earlier. The trillium blooms are gone, and now we are tracking goldenrod through the meadow, where "meadow" means . . . Oh never mind. "Those are not the hands of an English professor," she said in a way that left me confused, then later aroused, then ashamed of my arousal, and at last amused by the whole thing, which we might call the four stages of insight. Oh of all the uses to which a tongue can be put, to be so fixated on just the one! We work without talking, each to our own thoughts, and when was it not that way, and when it will it be otherwise, and so on and so forth and all.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Late to Chocolate

Suddenly I like chocolate. Who knew? Mornings outside with coffee while Sol burns through the all but discarnate mist. How amazing is green when one no longer asks it to be the Lord or the Lord's special message to you? So much grace at once I can't remember how to unbutton her shirt! Hopefully she'll help or else provide diagrams. Traffic half a mile away obscures the river's low singsong, though if one listens attentively - sifts the abundant soundscape - it's there, it's always there. At 2 a.m. one wakes to the new clarity of no longer needing clarity, and at 3:16 wakes again and thinks "for God so loved the world . . . " and bursts out laughing, which wakes Chrisoula who - when told the joke - is decidedly not amused. Well, you open the curtains for some night air and there's the big dipper and you wake later than usual with aching hands and yet more work in the garden to be done and you take your coffee outside and try to listen to the tomatoes growing. Say thank you in a language I know and understand! How flimsy want is when compared to what is always given! Rules are a form of violence which is a way of saying that order is a form of violence which is less clear, isn't it? The collective will find you if you wait for it, sort of like a runaway at a bus stop whose parents love them too much to just let them go. There is no distance, nor anything but love! In the Creamery B. said "we joke a lot about bears around here," to which I replied "you should never joke about bears," to which he replied "you should never joke about never joking," to which I responded with an uncharacteristic whoop of laughter that made everyone in the place look up. The story of my life is called "Mowing around the Bluets." Or maybe "Late to Chocolate." Never is not better! I can't see all the way to October, nor quite resolve these lingering fears of death, especially that of my kids, nor care enough about either problem to bother giving them attention, which is a way of saying that October, like death, is always somewhere on the nonspatial nontemporal horizon. Why worry? More Husserl please, fewer new age shiny objects, and way fewer pithy bumper stickers. You're my favorite candy bar, when can I unwrap you?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Vigorous and Productive Waltz

We admire farms, which is a way of stirring memory and interpreting ancestral desire, but also somehow bridging what we can't - never could really - put into words. L. suggests a scythe and we talk it over but there's not much to say, you're either ready to live that way or you aren't. One wants to be rational now, just say what it is, and let it all be what it is, and yet the Romantic mode still beckons, Wordsworth cloud-gazing and puffing up with the Lord, Dickinson verging on orgasm every time the muse came through her window after dusk. The garden catches up, or fills up, a hearty loveliness we submit to gladly, and we fall to sleep hours apart yet by dawn are entangled, and this is one way the world is, and this just happens to be how we are presently married in it. The inclination to compose lists fades - faded - as there is now a sense of being carried, of being the servant (weak metaphor - fix it for me, will you?), and what's next is always right in front of you waiting. Talking about it is complex because talk - and understanding talk - communication, I mean - is complex but it - this it - is not complex at all, it's merely what is. Wholly what is? Ever since the lights went on I can't sleep! Or rather, sleep better than ever, but many of the old appetites have dissolved, as if their only function was to distract and not help, so what awakening is is just this, this this, but salted with awareness, a sort of acceptance of what is, without troubling to understand or extend it (it naturally shares itself), a sort of happy "oh!" Look at the sinew, the space between each sentence - I am saying, as an exercise, a writerly one - can you feel or intuit where the writer paused in what is otherwise a more or less consistent wall of text? Or notice where you pause and wonder are they same pause and if so why and if not why not? A bland cup of warm milk at bedtime, a long swim days earlier that still haunts my shoulders. Let us gather as a flock, let us congregate around a shared belief system or - is now not the time - let us simply allow the collective to find us, make use of us, et cetera. A dance without music yet not silent, a vigorous and productive waltz insisting on no prerogative. Writing is posterior to speech, in which sense all this wordiness is a sort of foam, or gloss, where one is given to the river (an only slightly better metaphor but I'm out of time, buddy). Given to moonlight, to that waning crescent visible over your shoulder while planting cucumber? Oh maybe: Oh maybe not: Oh.