Monday, July 6, 2020

I Am Briefly Made Unlonely

What is it in you that distance insists on worshiping? Or have the miles made me their God? Women whose bodies remain fixed in images, as if one had never been hungry, let alone lonely. My body counts and recounts its scars, not unlike a dog who is unsure when it will eat next. Listen! Dawn comes, a slow and melancholic fire scaling the hemlocks prayer by prayer, until at last the sky utters a soft "amen." I brought my brokenness to the altar, and the altar broke, and the priestesses there suggested I try another church. Who can say aloud what the fundamental nakedness will not? Joy has not been a stranger in this life, ecstasy has not been a stranger. We talk while walking along the Connecticut River, eyeballing military planes high overhead, joking about how "crossbeams" can go with "condoms" if you're writing that kind of poem. The backyard violets welcome me by neither welcoming nor not-welcoming me, and they would treat you exactly the same, and thus I am briefly made unlonely. Doors, like relationships, close but can mostly be re-opened (which is less clear with relationships). Later it will rain but for now there is this light, now there is this warmth. Now there is this function, this healing remembering it's sacred.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Moon is a Faithless Lover

In the end, there is nothing but the pure neutrality of stillness. I taste the ash, I wither in the salt, and I rot with the roses in the compost. You take a story - Hansel and Gretel, say - and trace it back and back, fire by fire, season by season, a thousand years, ten thousand years, and where do you end up? The Man without Shoes becomes the man for whom the moon is a faithless lover, and so he begins at last the rituals of grief that will guide him beyond dying. We are prayerless who have no father, and fatherless who have no prayer. Notice how the violets are not pursuing anyone, how they are not hoarding sunlight or rain, how they have no favorite book or psalm. The argument at last passes and my poverty clarifies to an exquisite degree. Cheerful at low intensity, I carry a cup of coffee into the barn and sit on a bale of hay by the window. The horses are quiet, the neighbor's sheep are quiet, and the chickens are quiet. The world, my love, is quiet. Of this alone am I allowed at present to speak.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Better Dance

A little before 4 a.m. I slip into jeans and a t-shirt, pad downstairs, hand trailing the dusty banister, and make coffee. The prayer as such is merely sitting quietly, giving attention to what arises, always with an eye on the generative stillness at the center of being. Three days without Jessica and a sort of calm appears, an order one doesn't have to struggle so hard to obey. Just don't call it an answer, right? The problem, really, is my discomfort with desire and my fear of currents that don't share my interest in staying close to shore. At 5 a.m. I make a second cup of coffee, and sit by a different window, one that allows me to study the eastern horizon. Any profluence affects me, any loveliness testifies. When I make no moves unto the Lord, the Lord makes no moves unto me, thus this, the better dance. Yet upon seeing it clearly, I begin to shuffle and gesticulate, begin to rehearse both arguments and proposals. All is past and all is the past, and yet there is only this. I write by the light of my body until almost six a.m., when something nudges me elsewhere, no reason in particular, and I go.

Friday, July 3, 2020

How To Grieve A Gift

Competence. Arrogance. What are you taking?

Dandelions go to seed under apple trees whose blossoms were duller this year than expected. We nudge the garden a certain way and are changed forever accordingly. Over the river, and the fields on the far side of the river, a bald eagle circles

Late but not too late one begins to ascertain the limits of her attention, and adjusts their expectation accordingly. No more fairy tales please. How the light disappears from any living thing's eye when its heart stops.

Reading Feynman, bored. Notice the violets, who do not object to being your teacher, don't run around cultivating an audience. Relationship as a form of obedience. 

He taught me how to grieve, a gift I am only just now beginning to realize and bring into application. There are no mysteries but there are places we have not been and cannot describe. Scrambled eggs and tomato wrapped in corn tortillas and eaten standing, plotting the day.

Plans to meet in Buffalo scuttled, just as the plans to meet in Brattleboro were scuttled, and plans to meet in Ashtabula were scuttled, and can you see now the theme, are you ready at last to stop fighting. Sexual healing is nontrivial but partners matter less than one thinks. Please open your bible to Paul's second letter to the faithful of Corinth and we will begin.

Simple coffins suffice, simple openings. The King, my Lord, at last is dead.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Clarity Mind Can Bear

The lilac dulls, a reminder of the degree to which beauty is yoked to time. We are always sacrificing, until we are not.

Morning light along the horizon a softness, a blur. Notice how violets do not rage, violets do not object.

Our correspondence takes the shape of children learning they are no longer children. In the attic, in a box of books, a dead bat.

A sentence, a sorrow. Coffee deepens the prayer until all the clarity mind can bear streams like holiness unto the world.

Steve's insights about perspective with respect to protest. It's late but we synergize, and our synergizing is sexual.

And what would the Lord say about your love, which evolves in time? A decision to allow ecstasy to appear as grace, and grace as just a guy who's happy with his girl.

Slowing down. Lugging mulch hay to the garden, passing Jeremiah lugging manure to the potato garden.

Turkey vultures. Bald eagles.

In the middle of the night, one hears the river beyond the pasture. Last first kiss, last first firefly, last first love.

Distances, dystopias, divergences. This confusion, this blossom, this way to end all ways.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Neither Sanctums nor Cathedrals

In a dream Dad leaves me a note: "Dear Sean, you already know how to grieve, I taught you this, Love Dad." Sunlight blurs the horizon waking up. I will never have what I want, thus this loveliness, thus this suffering. 

I went for long walks as a child - farther into the forest than children are meant to go alone - and learned what you learn when you meet, are eaten by, and yet survive somehow the witch. Is a sentence intelligent, is a flower? There's something in your eyes that makes it clear we're finished hiding.

What is "all the way" now anyway? Glasses off means no longer knowing what bird is in the maple tree, unless it's a cardinal because even blind I know cardinals. She trespasses, lays graffiti on the cathedral and come stains in the sanctum, all to make clear there are neither sanctums nor cathedrals, thus liberating my captivated, confused-about-salvation soul. 

Snow falling in parts of the landscape I betrayed. It's like Vermont is a two-syllable prayer. Who needs saving again?

It's a relief to know that we are at last beyond the argument, beyond suspicion. Deer work together, a cooperative intensity we can't imagine. The war zones we worship, the peace plans we scuttle in hotels we can't afford.

Church reaches the bedroom - spills its rituals and stained glass on the sheets - and now what? There are depths of beauty I still cannot manage. Begging the dispensation of non-existent Gods, knowing it's all futile, and yet.

So I left Emily Dickinson staring at an empty table, so what? Whose hunger, whose meal, and who counts the sparrow choking on these bitter crumbs?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Lesser Heaven

Oh I am inside the wasp's nest now looking out!

Now I am a single hard-boiled egg.

A cricket, a crow.

Now I am a bald eagle hunting you over the oxbow.

Can you feel my hunger?

Can you feed my hunger.

Whose husband am I? Whose help-meet?

Whose body is my classroom? Whose thighs tighten on me coming. Who muffles her cries against my throat coming. 

Two years now, a single maple leaf wedged between panes of glass in the bedroom window.

The world I am loath to disturb. For which I became a song.

A lesser song of a lesser god in a lesser heaven.

Oh but imagine me as violets!

Imagine me at dusk trembling touching the violets. 

I tremble to touch you.

In the swamp off Flat Iron Road a red-winged blackbird, first in almost a decade, reminding me how hard we try, coming back to us over and over in image, story and vow.

Oh my God let me learn to let love be love and joy, joy.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Giving Up In You

"For no one knows the hour at which I come."

Yet one does know who has arrived and what gift they bear, doesn't one, for this is love: this love, and only this is love.

For this my knees were made.

For this the earth and my knees shall be one worship. 

So swimming in you. Listening to loons in summer dark in you with you. Moonlight rippling on our bare shoulders grazing kissing in you.

Loving in you the lakes in you.

Entering you already in you.

Listening to Dylan while traveling west, early seventies stuff, his family stuff, singing in you coming home in you the song in you.

Already one, already this love.

Already always this love.

Tulips in you, honey bees in you, marriage in you, infidelity in you, what is new in you. 

Hurting in you and healed in you and beyond help in you.

It is written we shall be lucky in prayer and unlucky in love for so long as it is bodies to which our longing points and yet "and yet" in you.

Giving up in you.

All up in you, in on you, all all of you.

My tongue in you in the forest in you to make all birds sing in you and all rivers say amen in you and sunlight say hallelujah in you.

Rising in you with her in you who was always in you, and always you, always.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

That Which Remains A Secret

The murderous enormity of my pain and anger, which Christ gently asks me to give Him as a gift, which offer I cannot believe is real. After days of sun, rain clouds move in, and one writes quietly with their coffee, alone again. 

I reject as "love" that which remains a secret or illicit or even negotiable.

Death, like sex, feels like an objection to the terminal nature of bodies, one that we are together meant to elide. 

Various paint stains on my jeans, witnessing the many projects my hands have attended over the years, inartfully but faithfully. They say when are you going to get a dog again and I have no answer because the answer I have is not the answer they want. Samuel Barber's understanding of sadness. 

Apple blossoms, annoyances, announcements, annuals, ant hills, annuities, antiphons.

He talked about the ruins of his marriage and as I listened a sparrow hopped along the river bank, not distracting so much as enhancing, as if reminding me of something I'd long ago forgotten. Sharing a joint by the fire, not talking, just now and then leaving the unity of our nestled body to throw another log on. 

Sparks hurl themselves toward heavenly stars and fall back into our fire.

How in certain traditions vomiting is "getting well."

Slow-drying macadam, light breezes. How inevitably we disappoint one another, and yet go on together, lovers.

Frying breakfast sausage over low heat, listening to the kids argue about what constitutes "funny," grateful for their intelligence but also lost in my own kitchen, my own family.

Hungry but not for anything I know how to cook.

Churches are empty now. Hell spews fire trucks into our brains which, lacking Emily Dickinson's clarity, are receptive to such damaging energy.

The nineteenth century was ten thousand years ago, and I am only just now seeing this.

This slow coupling, soft opening, this rest in thee.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Spiral, Expansive, Repetitious

Apple blossoms just visible from the bedroom window where I make myself write. Something blurs in me, or softens. This lifelong inability to discern between bird song and morning, as if the one were the other, or discernment altogether were an illusion. The many uses to which "care" is put. Caution.

Crashing? Always the sense one is moving into a vacuum, a tremulous future, a horizon that is unlike anything you've ever known. Once I did. What does so-and-so want to hear vs. what do you need to say vs. what happened? Heat rises in the parking lot and a crushed Dunkin cup scuffs between cars. I try too hard to not try too hard. 

Iced coffee in Brattleboro near midnight - walking by the river - the end of our friendship still a few years distant - under stars.

Sick sometimes, or worried, or just tired and "relax, I'll get to it." Dandelions in the backyard where we work silently building a fire pit from found material. Sentence structure becoming a challenge again or is just that all our living is spiral, expansive, repetitious. 

Begin.

In the garden, near where the kale comes back, half a robin's egg, its luminous blue mocking my insistence on the Lord. I did not ever want to be kissed good night (for good enough reasons) and so became a man who wonders what it's like to be kissed goodnight. How silent the inside of a mailbox is when the moon is full. 

And the moon, and her shoulder, and the tides of us.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Hunger and How to Eat


Snow squalls in early May. Inside, outside. The thing about witches, they understand both hunger and how to eat. A little blue. 

Jesus weeps where the wetlands opens into pine forest, shadows one never reaches the end of. Near supper time the barn grows quiet and still, and I lay down on bales of hay and close my eyes. Some of what passes for prayer may be prayer, but more it's just the brain unspooling in pictures and words. You look in the mirror and what do you see?

The sky pulls back, clouds rush in. As a child there was this strange relationship to trains, one that has survived into adulthood, evidence if evidence is needed of past lives. Dan points to the dulcimer and asks do I want him to repair it and the silence - brief, intense, pregnant - speaks volumes in answer. Selah. 

Want. As the course points out, we are built to give thanks, and nothing else becomes us. Boxes of apples in the hay loft, potatoes and onions. The Kiss tie I wore to prom in 1983, drunk and happy, though Steve died two weeks later of cancer. The history of baseball, slavery, Gatling guns, nations. I am here for you, and all that you offer.

Remember when we quarreled? I've got crucifixion on my mind again, I've got these nails I never know what to do with.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Resting Place

From high up in the maple trees, dying from decades of road salt, dead branches whistle down in high hard winds. A casket is a secret not a resting place, as this poem is a promise not to close until you're ready.

One yearns to climb Ascutney today, yet knows doing so poses complications to the family dynamic (as all travel plans must), and so refrains. Sunlight melts snow that fell near dawn. All our hearts are cleared of ruin.

In what church - under whose tutelage - did I learn not to trust the body's joy? The side yard lilac bush - which last year did not bloom - nearly reaches the second story. Yet another pair of shoes slides into a state of disrepair from which they cannot be saved.

And all Creation a gift.

Whatever is lawful, whatever is blessed, whatever it is. One can read too much into anything as the world is forever offering itself as a text to be constructed, deconstructed and constructed yet again. "Soon," whispers the Lord, sounding like He means it for once.

We wait until late afternoon to walk, agreeing the light on the river is more pleasing then. We are one but not the same, and we do hurt each other, and only we can heal us. Snow on the forsythia, your name on my tongue.

Some of it makes no sense, and yet remains given unto us, as if the lesson were not intended to be understood in traditional ways. The artwork of children, the ongoing betrayal of decades-old vows.

What ends, what never ends.

This and that.

And you: always you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Grace after Sunrise

Hemlocks sway in light breezes. Sometimes it feels like the sky is close enough to kiss, close enough to whisper secrets to and know they'll be kept. I was a child once, and will be again.

Ravens pass, their guttural cries mocking our befuddlement, our leaden stature. The pond skiffles, fragmenting sunlight, and those who have headaches no longer have headaches. Study the sleep of dogs, study the waking of cats.

Morning passes. At the last second one finds it in them to witness unto the grace that is never not in abundance. She does not notice me noticing her, and does not care that she does not notice.

One adopts an attitude they secretly feel is becoming of a psalmist and instantly all the words dry up. The broken-hearted many, the open-hearted few. Cold drafts seep into the hay loft and the Man Without Shoes shivers while he writes which is, for him, a familiar way of writing. 

Who will say they are free of all filters? The hemlocks appear darker than usual with the sun behind them. Re-reading Joyce's letters, remembering sharing them with Dan, all those years ago in Vermont.

Drunk and high on the shore of Lake Champlain, singing Hank Williams songs, scared I won't find the next chord, and nearly always finding it. My grandmother's tea cup filled with moonlight on the back stairs, me sitting beside it, quiet and still, filling with grace. After sunrise, another cup of coffee.

What you need is an understanding of the fundamental inability to grasp anything. The image dies on the only altar imaginable. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

In Sunlight the Boy Wept

Making love as a step unto the altar where the beloved is burned utterly and nothing remains but the Lord.

At night, silence is broken by spring frogs and the hushed river and occasional traffic on Route Nine.

There were pilgrims here once, beholden to concepts of God I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Before kids, we camped a lot, made love outdoors in the middle of the day - in fields, on the sides of mountains, the banks of rivers, and in an apple orchard in Whately once, giddy as dusk fell on our golden bodies. 

Listen.

Lessons. 

Lifted.

Looking up old lovers on Facebook and Google and finding nothing, as the women I have loved and not forgotten were headed somewhere different than this patriarchal hellscape and its technological catalog.

Last of the hams.

Willingness, humility, allowances.

Psalms.

Light enters and finds each nook within us.

The history of baseball, the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln's education growing up, Parson Weems, plantation culture in eighteenth century America, coffin ships, Africa.

Longing saying "okay, you got me - I suck - go ahead and be done with me" and so you commence longing for the end of longing, for what comes after longing.

Cold beers out in the pasture, cows coming and going around us, talking about our wives, our families, how everything here has changed but us. 

Dust motes in sunlight which the boy wept being torn away from.

Certain Stevie Nicks songs.

Twenty minutes until we have to go, and other promises we failed to keep.

Rip cords, umbilical cords, extension cords.

The heart a desert in which only certain can survive. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

When The Tangle Will Undo Itself

As if all that writing were a way of hiding the separated self, preserving it from the destruction wrought by the inquisition of awakening. The ever-luminous Anamika Borst saying "how wonderful that even from Nonduality/we can move on." We walked in a vast half-circle through old tobacco fields, the county fairgrounds ever in the distance, beckoning. When in afternoon the sun appears between fast-moving clouds, when at dusk you hear the mockingbird on the high black wire.

Oat pancakes with heated syrup. One is asked to be in relationship with all Creation, including paralysis, including deli meat. Crosses made of palms that every year grow a little more brittle. So there is no "us," so what?

Longing is a kind of pain, premised on absence, which is an illusion we presently opt not to see through. She clenched her fists coming, pounded the bed beside the pillow or my back or the desk on which she leaned. Who needs pictures. The days are snarled now, like yarn in wild raspberry thickets, and there is no indication of when the tangle will undo itself or end. Sunlight on the river, the backs of new leaves that in a breeze face the river.

In many ways, "yes" is a negotiation. Non-cat people marrying cat people and what the long-lost Egyptian gods and goddesses do accordingly in their intricate festive afterlife. I remember days when it seemed like remembering was somebody else's problem but the truth was, it was always my problem. 

Bach on bass guitar. Roast beef and bacon sandwiches on rye, eaten standing at the window watching snow fall through distant halogen auras. This man who, seeing a hot air balloon in the distance, grabs the woman he will marry one day and begins sobbing uncontrollably. As if "amen" were the end we all say it is. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

I Have Always Been A Little Sorry

Afternoon. The sky blurs, light falling off as clouds move in. Horses graze in the corner of the field we opened last autumn. Sometimes I forget what to capitalize, and sometimes I don't care. Angels before bed removing their halos, saying their prayers. I was older than all this once, and learned nothing special, hence this inglorious wordy return.

Remember walking once in Northampton and hearing a harpsichord and following it into the Unitarian church near Polanski Park? Jack Gilbert poems, for which I have always been a little sorry. 

Knowing what was going to die was a burden nobody bothered to help me with, perhaps because nobody knew it was a burden. Often, walking in the forest in late afternoon, you'd wonder what would happen if you just curled up and slept. Even our ideas are helpful, so long as you don't get hung up on claiming them. Room temperature whiskey, roach clips, and the understanding that somebody somewhere was paying.

The shade of green on Peter Criss's eye shadow. Longing hurts, waiting hurts. Feral cats creeping into the barn right before the snow begins. Remember lanterns?

Remember love? Nothing is separate or otherwise apart from anything else, yet it doesn't seem that way, and we make a lot of mistakes accordingly. One slips, one does. Oh Jesus, what is it with you and chickadees and hemlocks at dusk and women named Jessica a thousand miles away?

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Past Arrives Always

Places where no child goes. Places where no child should go but some do. Bluets where we stop mowing and the earth becomes wild. Bear tracks. How we walked in an enormous arc through old tobacco fields, talking about the Lord, the white-washed county fair buildings never coming closer. Homemade yogurt dressing for roasted lamb, the dill making us long for Greece. Our drives through the hilltowns, sharing tea with honey, and what we talk about. The past arrives always as a flavor in the present, a way the present has of organizing itself on our behalf. Hunkering on the ridge overlooking a moose hole, geese sailing across it, but nothing bigger. I, too, am lost. Near the bottom of the hill, half a dozen dandelions. Trying to remember was it yesterday or the day before we made love before the kids were up, and after cried because of all the mistakes we've made, and ways we've found to hurt each other, and yet.  

Friday, June 19, 2020

More Opaque Than We Know

One begins to sense in their living an abdication of moral responsibility, as if it were really were about survival only. Something other than forsythia erupts in the center of the straggling front yard forsythia, as if mocking one's inclination to respond to all things. What if Creation is itself broken? What if our language is even more opaque that we know? 

We walked in a large half circle - many miles - around old tobacco fields, county fairground buildings bright in the distance. What is it about the sky that makes us think we do not have to die? Banjos originate in Africa, which as Jasper says, merely testifies to the basic insight that we always end up in Africa. Missionaries, missionary positions, the many uses to which kneeling can be put. Lord forgive me my regrets.

Ellipsis. Eclipses. What is hidden and how hiding is itself a revelation. 

Ferns begin unfurling in the garden adjoining the driveway, intimations of a green profluence for the later ecstasies of summer. Have you tried Buckeye Purple?

Wading deep enough into the river to be "in the river" but not deep enough that my balls shrivel. Stars wheel through the sky a little before midnight, Luna owning the rusty tinge of menses. How tired one gets after a single glass of wine these days. How grateful I am in her glances.

For two days straight waking up after Chrisoula, making the bed despite my back, and leaning on the window after drawing open the heavy curtains. "How shall we improve the prayer" is the very reason we have to ask "how shall we improve the prayer." 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Angels Who Know Better

Little flowers blushing red and green in the compost.

Crepuscular branches light as air.

Interiors that expand.

Torn up, tossed aside, forgotten.

What I can explain and what I cannot explain, which is not at all related to what can be explained and what cannot be explained.

Pickup trucks, tire swings, coiled hoses.

Horses moving away from the fence, down a little slope.

Sweeping sounds on the back stairs, even when nobody is sweeping there.

Onions coming back, kale coming back, mint coming back.

Collard greens bright beneath early May sun coming back.

Cowbirds. Crows.

Folks arguing is this the parsonage or is the parsonage an even older building up the street as if "both" were not an answer.

Waiting on apple blossoms, bees, and writing outside.

Old friends.

Dad gone four years this August and I do hate to be the guy who says "has it really been that long" but has it really been that long?

"All of this has something to do with memory."

Aching shoulders, the pain reaching up into my neck and lower skull, which I briefly play with pretending is stymied kundalini.

What they called my grandmother because they could not pronounce her name.

Angels attend us, including angels who know better than we do what justice is, and mercy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Giving Up on Lost Sheep

Passages.

Jasper does not return my calls nor visit. A new loneliness appears.

Old prayers. The Fall River orphanage my grandfather lived in. The past always asserting its vain and useless prerogative.

Newspaper clippings, grass clippings. We study the old apple tree, the merits of leaving it standing. Time passes.

Scavenging old glass on the river bank, going further than expected, yet coming up mostly empty-handed.

Blurred rainbows.

As we are mediated by our technology, we seem to become less attentive, almost as if giving up on lost sheep. Making love by the fire, half-drunk, quiet after, each in our own thoughts.

Purposes. Perambulations.

Plot lines.

Or perhaps we are angels navigating Purgatory in search of souls whose penance is over, and this is our last task before our own penance begins.

I was confused for years about the "second hand" on watches and clocks because of how hard it is to fully get past one's first understanding.

Women who were helpful but not the way they thought, who took more than was just, and still from time to time assert themselves in the old context.

Grocery carts with broken wheels dumped on the side of the road at the town line.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Fractures of Quartz Catching the Sun

Mahfouz urges us not to attend the past but rather the very presence of healing. Trees fall hard in the forest, we hear them from a distance, and walk quicker. There is no "away."

Beads of sweat. Interior fractures of quartz catching the sun. Beneath the rotting apple tree, evidence of woodchucks.

This.

All the links constituting sexuality are established early, mostly before we become sexual, and so sex is a kind of discovery of what we are that is beyond our control. Broken shoelaces, broken beer bottles, broken hearts of broken cobblers, broken boys who both fear and long for what women want. 

The horizon is neither here nor there, yet we are allowed to talk about it: why. Forsythia bushes in early May, their blossoms a kind of soft foam at a distance, intimating what.

Speech declines what is offered by way of clarification. Traffic, everybody in motion, always the sense that getting away is possible, desirable, and yet.

Grit in the knuckles on my thumb.

Effort persists, effortlessly. At night he lies awake in the hayloft, searching the sky through dark windows, wishing there was another way. Who is happy, who is unhappy, who is stuck seeing who is happy and who is not.

Clocks. Feral cats.

Orchestral midnight, early May, dreams of you becoming old news in me always.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Door Writing Is

In writing, solace. In Spring - sometimes - mercy.

The children's voices rise muffled through bending floorboards, the whole house shifting as we speak. At night, stars trace invisible patterns in the sky, like lines on a vast palm.

What opens, closes, and what closes, opens. Back to Derrida, back to Barthes. Back to Foucault's The History of Sexuality. Back to the door.

Writing is a kind of salve, a voice in which parents and teachers and priests hide, and a pointer towards reading, which is the true salve. Hostas, forsythia, blue flag.

What shall we say to babies born today? Bitter revolutionaries.

Avoiding at all costs monologic ontologies. How we sound making love and laughing together after. Run off, the far side of the river, and spring peepers. Psalms.

In Spring one remembers what rises again. Where joy is absent, love remains oppressed. Prayer, prisms, probability.

Light the way it is, and the way it is not, which we say it is, to our detriment.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Men are Perilous Adventures

"Truth has no need of us" is not precisely the case as absent us, what truth? I do oppose monologic ontologies, but am wary of being used to advance dubious ends. Men are perilous adventures, the whole history of us makes this clear, and yet we go accommodating their  - our? my? - wars and machines and societies. Wanting you away from the world is to lay claim to a healing that perhaps was created to be public, general, for all The hayloft roof slants a certain way, peaks above narrow pine beams wrapped in blue Christmas lights. Sighs and cries and hungry kisses accentuate what. I mean to speak against "the tendency to lay claim to a certain spiritual state against the need for clarity in our troubled collective." Teachers, prophets, hucksters, wannabes. Lovers. Blue fades to the white, the profluence of light, yet white is never without a hint of blue. For all the trouble sex has wrought, we still show up for it, pulling our weary bodies into beds rendered briefly prismatic. One falls to sleep beneath fast-moving clouds eclipsing then revealing distant stars, the distance a dream any child could undo. I did once. Thus, this: this this.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

By Another Name

Our stories have become so much more complicated compared to say 10,000 years ago. Will what I call a chickadee ever go by another name? Will love? One exists in a world that can be mapped in many ways, and so one has to have a clear understanding about the distinction between maps and territories (and the attendant risk of being overly-clever). Even now, the longing arises in a specific way, asking to be met and satisfied in a specific way, only to arise again. Always ask: what is the underlying promise? Premise? Physically we are not different, hence our shared world. Rusty hemlocks at dusk, scrimshaw sketches on the blue iris of dawn in New England. Springs come and go, attended by the laws of space and spin. Mind has so much to chew on, and its chewing creates yet more to chew on. Yet it's possible to rely to much on "thus," both the word and the underlying concept. The organism and its thinking. The quiet in which bird song is simply more quiet. And you. Always you. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Mysterious, Implied, Et Cetera

You see we are made of witnesses, one after the other speaking quietly its truth. Night fell, a sliver of moon skipped over the tree line, and spring exhaled all at once. A dampness one could trail their finger over, a saltiness that was neither forbidden nor unwelcome. Around five a.m. birds begin, the specifically blue light of dawn arrayed on windows facing east begins. My prayer, as such, is a kind of drifting, my intentions ripples in a pool whose existence remains mysterious, implied, et cetera. The inclination to boast about spiritual accomplishment versus simply relaying what has been helpful in hopes it may function similarly elsewhere. Trucks cruise Main Street around midnight, the ones that on the back roads cast Bud Lite cans into darkness. May all men heal! May our suffering in general decrease! The dream gently shifts tenor now to make space for the one who does not sleep. It seems we are angling towards something - a kind of meeting, a kind of ritual - but perhaps this is simply how it feels to be embodied in such a narrowly sexual way. What fits, what doesn't quite fit, and what doesn't fit at all. One applies this then another frame over and over only to learn that they're not different at all but identical. I mean, this love is not mine, right? As this crumb, love, merely hints at a diviner loaf. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

My Life has been Wasted

In the hay loft a little after 7 p.m., last of the rain falling from hemlocks in which sunlight - last of the day's sunlight - brightens arching limbs. Have I told you how I love you, and how confused I am by this love? Mahfouz says that home is where all our attempts to escape cease but what about that to which we turn - that which we chase - over and over, year after year? Horses cry out in the distance, lambs bawl in the mud. As a child I told a lot of stories, and lost the ability to discern between them, and most of my life has been wasted accordingly. Even in your arms I am simply the idea of wanting understanding. Now and then you realize that silence as such is gone, replaced by thoughts about silence and, when they are briefly stilled, a ringing in the ears. Ever attended by angels, ever hounded by demons, all of them working together for the Lord. I pull my body out of one position, ease it into another, and write. Empty coffee mugs are my witness: I have no plans, no price, no prayer. Between one pause and the next, the Lord visits and gently reminds me He never said "suffer," never said "die." 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Memory of Kites

Two note chickadee songs, throwing stones, blue smoke where somebody's burning, tail end of the season, and a sentence or two for Bill Corbett who I did not know was dead. "Love," says the neighbor's bumper sticker, while one door down another reads "Trump 2020." The currents in the river are there to teach me about the patterns in this living. My living? Well, whatever nudges us in the direction of more.

Hand gestures attend the dialogue, the car passing too fast to infer anything else. J. calls and we agree to walk in "the meadows" on Monday, otherwise we deploy none of the usual code for psilocybin et cetera. Homemade lemonade, handfuls of granola, agreeing this afternoon we do the raspberries and tomorrow move horse manure. Did I mention the blue smoke floating over the break in the trees where Route Nine runs east and west? My hands move a lot these days - like birds or electrons - cracked skin, skeins of blood where the prickers bite. Spring, Winter into Spring and also, spring.

U.S. flags rifling in sudden breezes on the other side of Main Street. You notice being around more who takes care of their house and who lets it to go shit, so to speak. We are following something, or it feels that way, and if it takes us to Florida or the Canadian Rockies, then so be it. We who angle, who we make it about us, even when we're bent on all the others. Tiger lilies jutting through deadfall, a memory of kites. After a while, what's left to resist? Quarter past three, almost time to go.

A lot goes with us when we go, which is apparently going to have to be okay. It's easy but you don't really want it, which is why you're only sometimes happy, and other insights I'm too lazy to put into words.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Mostly Gulping Beauty

The bank calls with bad news, morning passes letting various projects go unattended, as if there were time, as if consequence really were just an idea. Two days ago a single merganser arrowed up the river where I sat quietly, pretending to pray but mostly gulping beauty through the idea of you. Liars incorporate, lovers undo. This: this this.

It rains and I wallow in the raining of it, unwilling to hurry now towards grace. Be not confused! The new hay is greenish if you squint, and lighter in your arms, but the horses are happy, so nobody complains. One accelerates towards orgasm, comes hard in her, and after feels hollow and lonely, between women, and done, mostly, with sex. Going out to help cut trees down two farms over, as if the body were trying to figure out its place in the world, and the kitchen (and the pantry off the kitchen) weren't it.

In enormous lilac bushes outside the town offices, robins pursue one another in light rain. Quietly judging the neighbor's houses, knowing that to do so is to judge one's own self, and helpless apparently not to. Be not given to the emphasis on joy as "getting what you want." Trees fall and we make quick work of them, dividing the burn pile mostly without speaking.

My hands are mostly braids of smoke now.

The one upon whom you project all that ecstasy struggles to sustain the burden, her already-fine writing growing finer, clearer, more helpful. Apparently we can fail, apparently we can lose! One begs forgiveness now because as a child then they did not. 

This is what I know, here in this body struggling to discern pleasure from pain, joy from sorrow, and what is true from what is false.

My body hurts in ways I cannot name, and thus goes on unhealed. Desire remains a poor guide. What is whole cannot be ruined, what can be ruined was never whole.

Morning then: this morning.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Both of Us Even Then

Wishes, wants. Whims.

Unwritten poems.

Because over and over the same mistaken emphasis on this or that form.

This or that image.

A religion premised on photographs, evidence, what I can see with my own eyes, and holes in flesh I can touch with my own hand.

Out back, the ponies nudge a bay of hale out of the run-in and into pale sunlight wrestling snow flurries. Winter into Spring. Spring.

Gun shots in a narrow valley, the echoes rattling my skull, my shoulder joint already pushing back against the rifle. John dead and Jesse dead less than two weeks apart, me and Sarah making love standing in the dorm stairwell at two a.m., drunk and stoned, awkward but kind, exhausted from crying, worried we'll die too, both of us even then wanting something - and someone - else.

Trimming forsythia, raking around the crocuses, waiting on blue flag.

Whistling.

First blow job was on the floor of M.'s living room next to the wood stove, both of us stretched out in darkness, risking and declaring and discovering. The bottom falls - always the bottom falls - and so we fall, always.

She pushes against me coming, the intensity surprising me, pushing me to come, harder than expected, sooner, both of us crying out softly, cries muffled in the other's nearness, nearby hemlocks blotting my view of the stars. Yet there was always the inclination to write poems, to somehow get closer and closer to what has always defied - playfully but unequivocally - description/explanation/etc.

Childhood was in part hidden guns, hidden whisky bottles, and an agreement not to talk about what was hidden (for much was hidden). Thus, years later, in other contexts, "where does your mind go?"

Always that dark forest past the pasture and barn, which went on for miles, where you weren't supposed to go without a gun, an eye out for witches, yet where I went, always, unarmed and in love.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Much is Holy

Reading Merton again, a guilty pleasure now, like John Denver songs and cannabis.

Crows fly over the pasture, three of them together, the fine black lines of their bodies blurred by snow squalls.

April always a month of waiting.

That line from - Isaiah? Jeremiah? - about how it is not by our wisdom that the hawk flies - to which one adds, nor apple trees grow, nor trout rise to feed, nor the black bear amble down hills towards the brook.

A little interior space in which one is happy, quiet, calm, unhurried.

Tides rolling gently over open beaches.

We whisper beside the fire - declarations, promises, questions - naked in old blankets, conjoined, moving in each other, sparks rising to stars a thousand light years away.

Willow trees along the road leading to pools in the river where I dream of falling in order to learn I am always floating in Christ Who is Love.

Slicing apples to dry, baking squash for bread and muffins, carefully measuring out chick peas to soak.

Meant to write "dead leaves" and instead wrote "dad leaves" and thought, okay, yes, that too of course.

Joe Roberts' oxen and how we walked behind them one afternoon, our roles (reporter/subject) blurred by our shared love of large quiet animals, dirt roads, local history, telling stories, et cetera.

We go slowly clearing the barn, sensitive to mice and rats who live there, skunks and ground hogs nesting in the crawl space, spiders and flies, coiled snakes awaiting June.

Half-smiles, hints of smiles.

What is after.

Hastily-poured tea carried to the fence line, gulped between sentences getting clear on how the goats broke out, crossed the stream, spooked the horses, trampled the spinach.

Uttering "peace be with you" like in the old days, but doing it rather as often as one remembers, exactly as if the church lived in you rather than you visit the church come Sunday.

Biography again, that old lie, that old dance by which the dancer forgets the steps but remembers the whole song. 

Late at night, everyone asleep, forcing myself to walk farther than I want, back aching, yawns that are practically gasps, the way I guess my dad did, and his dad too, going back God knows how far, all us men unsure what home is and how far away from it we have to get in order to repent enough to remember what is is and how to get back.

A juncture at which one realizes how "it gets better" is both a lie and the best you can do for the time being.

Yet this much is holy, for this much I know.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

My Role on the Road to Golgotha

Joe Roberts' oxen walking up and down West Street in a light rain, the two of us pacing behind, talking about the hilltowns in the 70s, and how so much of what we loved got lost, shunted aside, forgotten, et cetera. Often, I think of rainbow trout hovering in swift currents in Bronson Brook, nothing to them but their hunger, and wish to God I understood what it was in me back then that wanted them dead so bad. Loons uttered their strange song over Upper Highland Lake, you waiting on the shore for me to finish my midnight swim, me floating on my back unsure how far away the stars were. We christen last year's fire pit with a jug of wine, no glasses, getting tipsy enough to clumsily fuck, folded in a blanket, only later wondering who might've been watching from afar. How you come with your eyes closed, chin lifted, always transported, and how grateful I am, watching. How quiet they were, their heavy feet thudding in a slow ponderous rhythm lasting a thousand afternoons. Sometimes I feel like a man who was asked to carry a lot of coffins around, or am I the reincarnation of Simon from Cyrene, still bitter and confused about my role on the road to Golgotha? What's done is done, is one way to think about it, but at a late juncture one realizes there are others. I didn't sleep much in those days, got started drinking way too early, and developed a sad capacity for withstanding physical pain. One makes do. Doesn't one make do. One does until one doesn't, meaning the other comes along and says, "I know another way - come," and you do.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Old Testament Intensity

Perhaps there are no paths? Spring arrives oddly predictable, yet I can't escape this longing to sink into the river. Yesterday I walked two miles to its deepest swiftest pocket, perched on a rock and studied the currents with Old Testament intensity. Chrisoula wakes me to cry because of news from Greece, and I cry with her, both of us lamenting preventable deaths. In the garden, spinach breaks the dark wet soil, while on the horizon, dappled clouds pass like horses who have never seen a predator. The wind, my love, the wind! As a child I disliked churches but in my early twenties I grew ridiculously obsessed with them - stealing hymnals, copping quick feels with Kate in back and side pews, praying publicly, et cetera. When night falls, we pour cheap wine, and toast our integrity which always risks a dangerous poverty and has at last come face to face with its tormentor. So much happens without me, like growing up and dying, like winter disappearing later in April than you'd like. Is that a phone ringing? A letter arriving? One traces their hand on paper, then waits a long time to be clear: is it okay to color and what color shall we choose. The bottom, my dear: it rises to meet you and carry you home.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Corralling What's Amiss

It clears, the sky. My mother's voice on telephone growing thinner, like a pile of puzzle piece mostly already used. The rocker creaks, skids a bit on the floor when I rise quickly, hearing tears. Between winter and buds on the maple trees. Between loves.

Navy beans, black-eyed peas, ground lamb and last summer's tomatoes, slow-roasted for hours while we sit around the kitchen talking. When was the last time the crucifixion as such mattered to you? The lure of what is illicit, which is merely another distraction. It's hard to read these days but writing does go on apace. Coffee in the barn before dawn, quiet joys that long to be expressed.

Carse's point that a) it does exist and yet b) cannot be expressed, to which assertion I am yet to give consent. Cybersex, which was like so much sex in my early twenties - drifting sadly through empty motions while the other gets off, gets close, gets snuggly. "Where does your mind go?" "To stars over Lake Champlain, to silences on the beaches there recalling me." One goes back to certain letters, reads and rereads them, as if trying to see beyond them to the intention of the author. Goats get loose, spook the horses, all of us running around corralling what's amiss. My thumb on her nipple and other tensions, swelling and ebbing, like the history of Poland.

Three days later the moth on the clapboard is gone, a sadness, a lost image that while it persisted related to resurrection. Old Joy. One fumbles at the door at night, not drunk but not sober, unclear are they inside or out. The hemlocks lean a little, a cardinal flies out of them, and so for a little while longer, it's okay.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

As If Dreaming Us

Snowmelt falling off the rusted tin roof of the neighbor's barn, so prismatic and rhythmic I get wobbly gazing and listening. For whom is the world such a delight? All these thighs opening, all these knees kneeling.

We talk about the middle child en route to Sawyer Farm to pick up beans, rice, corn meal, kale and pork. Blue Bud Lite cans sparkle in the dead maple leaves cramping the road from both sides. I have two hearts, and the second one is yours.

What does an apostrophe do that I can't? Before anyone else is up I lug my books to the living room reading nook and go as deeply as I can into the silence. Buds on the side yard lilac.

Bluets go back and forth between my two hearts! Sophia and I walk quietly out back to study the smaller horse's back legs which appear stiffer than usual. Willow branches out by the river, a softening that is reminiscent of grandmothers.

"Beautifully morose," a student writes, and instantly I know what to embody next. Ice chunks bob going down the river, whitish-blue in the green swells. How when the dogs barked it meant bears were drawing near.

She swallows, sidles, and the moon slides back to its familiar orbit. One grows tired of dreaming and yet the dream goes on, as if dreaming us, which in a sense, it is. Frozen blueberries with yogurt and honey.

The prayer, the passing, the possibility, the peace. Her letter arrives, necessitating changes I both knew and didn't know would help.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A Ripple in the Vast Cosmos

Because I must go on describing you - because you will not consent to let me see you - I am a wordy beggar in the Kingdom of the Lord (where silence is a law). Years ago, in Dublin, I studied a woman waiting for a bus, committing her to memory, and it was as if I were describing my own self, as if the image completed the description and not the other way around, though I did not understand this at the time. Snow falls from the gray sky in April - its actual origin obscured - and then falls from the side yard lilac and maples to the earth - and then over the course of a brightening afternoon melts. How else are we sustained, we whose imaginations are kin to God? These sentences are all the self there is, each a ripple in the vast cosmos of us, a little lick, a shudder coming. A text comes together under my fingers but the fundamental art remains incomplete. Can you not see this? Over the miles goes the low hum of desire, as decades later Hansel goes back into the forest, knowing full well that you can't murder witches but only please them and then hope that their pleasure is exculpatory. It is not our bodies that long to meet, but rather our stories. There is no structure! How long must I go on singing, how long will you leave me blind. The bus arrives: again I am alone.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Trying to Survive the Father

Shad thicken the river and I remember my father in 1971 holding me as I reeled one in: the fish pulls one way, trying to survive, the father pulls another, teaching his son how to kill. Oh mercy unto all these men who worship long-dry wells, whose worship is not ruined thereby! In the morning I work through a series of difficult prayers, being called to a kind of mental acuity balanced in the body that only black bears understand. Writing writing, as Gertrude Stein (may all praise and glory be unto the Mother) said. One regrets certain relationships yet accepts them, and yet still longs to express their longing in the epistolarian way it is given to them, yet cannot because everybody is still so determined to keep sex between bodies. Did we misuse the world "galaxy" at a critical juncture? Perhaps the universe is a simple come-cry, perhaps there is no void? The pleasure of the text, once pointed out, sufficed unto my desire forever, thus the law. What you know, you know, and what you don't know, you don't know, and there is no in-between. Despite being hungry, and smelling pancakes in the kitchen below the bedroom where I write, I go on in my wordiness, because that is how it happens and no body of consequence has ever wanted me any other way. How obedient I am! The photograph, the one in the photograph, and the one who beholds the photograph, are one.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Bold and Awkward, Mostly Unhurried

Snow falls in mid-April, the horses whinny waiting for hay, and on the white beam of the house reaching up to the east-facing rectangular attic window, a moth in cruciform, frozen to the wood, brown wings splayed.

What - who - do we turn on?

The daffodils extend upward through crumbling soil and dead leaves as if hungry, shades of yellow for which we can take no credit, and yet beget such joy, as if somebody somewhere loves or wants to fuck us.

In the forest, the cracking of branches as they surrender to weights greater than they are allowed to carry, sharp as rifle shots, and then as always in the presence of loud noises, the fear of what died and who is allowed to cry and who if anyone will bear the various blames.

Every time I see a moose I am struck by their gait, at once bold and awkward, mostly unhurried, and for days after, am untroubled by doubting or not doubting God.

Editing old poems so that they are less explicitly about you which, in a sense, makes them even more about you.

Objectivity is a delusion, a persistent one.

We drive to Pittsfield together, sharing tea sweetened with honey, talking about the specific way in which we are happy together and - for the duration of the trip and then days after - needing nothing or no one else.

Knowing is not "yours."

Days later I go back to see what he wrote in reply to my note, read and re-read the sentences, his, and feel grateful and shy, realizing yet again that the decision to love women only is not a law.

Slow-roasting enormous hams we opted not to smoke.

Emerson's insights which at a late juncture transcend - or at least are not effaced by - Thoreau's wild subjectivity, which experience was also Emily Dickinson's, and are treasured thusly.

If you are given to flowers, why not go ahead and be given to bees?

Snow falls all morning in large wet blossoms, out of season yet not unwelcome, as how would the one-who-is-not-separate judge the One-Who-Is?

Cheap wine in mass-produced thumbprint goblets, Seinfeld reruns, wondering what the Latin root of "criticism" is.

The dark art of advertising.

Jasper listens patiently while I try to explain my refusal to fish for shad this year, relating it to killing quail last year, the whole thing yoked to a poorly-thought-out metaphor of black bears - all of them at once - as the Lord, begging me to be quiet, slow, still, mild.

Here a while longer apparently.

The writing careens towards specifically sexual outcomes - messy ones, reckless ones - that it cannot on its own separate from the linear and referential nature of its expressing.

Imagine.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

What if Sparrows are Warnings

Dust gathers. More and more space opens on the poetry shelves as I slowly discard, slough off, let go. Who knew how little you actually need for the final exam? The Lord is here, but a consistent recognition thereof drifts, apple petals on the river. Maybe in another life. Maybe in Albany.

Shogun as a pivotal transition from Tolkien towards another kind of reading, deeper and networked, the shallow Eastern influence rooting there, awaiting The Gospel According to Zen and so forth. When we rolled down the hill in tall grass, when we ate bologna sandwiches under the lip of the vast quartz rock. Silent calves whose bones grow brittle in the earth. Ask yourself: what would a genuine gift of love look like?

Something loosens in me, as if the problem all along were one of breathing. Bodies being bodies, until you can forget about them altogether, and then what. A wasp creeps along my arm until I kill it just shy of my wrist. Something borrowed, something through.

My life is arranged in order to allow me to read, which saved me at a difficult time: this is healing. What if the sparrows are warnings? At night I walk a long time in darkness finding the only church that will have me.

Wind just as the sun rises, a careful attempt to use the phrase "sun rises," and memories of Chrisoula in the summer of 94. Yet peace in its way continues to elude me. "Rise, shepherd," say the ten thousand lambs comprising - for now - the unfollowable joy we call "the soul." 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Not the Familiar Error

Well, I am not a broken heart, not a canoe. Am not a lake or a bell or a communion wafer.

A shadow is not an insult to the sun.

Come, my hand is open, let us walk a little and find a quiet garden away from the world.

White stones on the trail before us - thank you Jesus! Have I told you the story of the quartz rock in the pasture where as a child I went to sit, in sunlight and rain, at dawn and dusk?

Desire is the sadness in us. Desire is the error that we do not mean to make but make and are confused how to fix.

I remember driving through parts of Vermont, ruined by wanting everything I saw, and so seeing nothing save my own wretchedness staring back at me the only way it knew.

When I dream of you, it is not you I dream of, and this is how I know that wanting you is not the familiar error, but a different one, and maybe not one.

So I want you to suck me, on your knees, so what? So I haven't thrown away a rosary or a crucifix since I was five years old and I want you to suck me, on your knees, so what? So I want you to suck me so that after I will fall to my knees to be with you and we will fall to the floor in each other's arms and forget sex, forget marriage, forget bodies, forget God.

So what. Who cares.

In late winter I visit the dead dog's grave. In late Spring I climb the other dead dog's monument, which is God's inverted knee named Ascutney, at the top of which I touch the sky, then touch my fingers to my lips to heal them.

So I appear and my appearance briefly obscures the Light of Love, the Heart of Peace. But not you.

Never you.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Lovers and Walkers Entranced by Starlight

The deluge, in which I break yet another vow. But who gives a damn, the world the way it is, the dream getting creaky and stiff. Somewhere an old man can't pick apples anymore, somewhere an old woman puts her knitting away forever. Ladders in the barn gather dust, chickens nestle against late Spring cold. I remember hay rides growing up, by which I mean riding to and from the fields in the back of pickups littered with hay, not knowing what we did was work. And later yet the clumsy but sincere gropes and kisses on sleeping bags spread over the bed, all under starlight, Tom Petty cassettes looping in the cab, soft clicks repeating at intervals, her nipple stiffening against my palm. What are we but lovers and walkers entranced with starlight, beholden to the moon? Oh tell me a story, one that doesn't end with the witch dead and the little boy still lost. At night I dream of shad, their thick shadows blurring the Connecticut, and the men of my childhood who were so skilled at slicing them up. I'll die someday but before that I'll forget myself in your arms - will that be okay? Mid-afternoon, instant coffee, coming up from the horses to yet another poem. Here's a new vow: no more dead shad, and no more sad stories. Tomorrow morning I'm going to drive all night, rest my head on your beautiful lap, and cry myself to sleep.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Cover the Stones

"Night" I say, and like that a dozen geese sweep up from the goat farm a mile away, their deep cries sinking into the landscape as they pass. Veils drawn, veils pulled aside, veils allowed to fall and cover the stones. Earlier, a sense of dizziness prevailed while driving, a few miles under the speed limit, as if trespassing on a life that isn't meant to be anymore. Sourdough rolls with rosemary butter and sausage pizza for everyone else, spring rolls stuffed with grilled lamb for me. Gold light rims the horizon and a longing to repair what is broken - or attend what was left unattended - appears, as if on schedule. Let nothing be hidden, for it was all given by the one who decries secrets? The horses wander into far corners of the pasture, the chickens are slower heading in to roost. At certain distances, you cannot tell if the one approaching is a man or a woman. At other distances - the one I live in mainly - the whole world is you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Neither Random Nor Confused

You would come up behind me, undo my belt and jeans, begin stroking me, murmuring from where I couldn't see you. Sparks sail into the night sky, obeying laws I dimly understand are neither random nor confused. When we close our eyes it is only to remember the light in which all things - even darkness - are seen. Who were you saying what you said, sometimes bringing your other hand around. We enter our bodies like mist leaves a lake but in those days I left mine like a surfacing trout - violently rising long enough to forget everything, unable to breathe, the light of what was happening too bright. You wanted me to say things, swear things, and made it so I said them. God watches us from the sitting porch of our mind, not discerning between mating robins, sounding whales and wind-seeded violets. You liked me weakening in your hands. You liked telling me how it was going to end, making me repeat what I was not to forget. Spring comes, crocuses come. You still position your hands so nothing will be lost, then lift them to massage my throat until it shines. "My pretty boy, my only love." Whatever happens is sufficient but Christ we have to endure a lot of happening to learn it. You left me a mess, unsure of God, and shaky with women who only wanted to help. I find my knees and let everything dry untouched, the first of the many promises I promised you I'd keep.

Monday, May 25, 2020

You Mistake My Moans for Rain

I never dream of you, a sign in my living of a woman to be taken seriously, though once, years ago, I dreamed I visited a house in which you had grown up and recently visited, and I went from room to room looking for something I could take to remember you by, and found nothing suitable, save the faintest scent of pine forests after rain, and I woke wracked with desire and shame, jacking off quickly in the bathroom, then leaning my forehead on the frosty west-facing window, begging God to free me, or at least explain my suffering, which He did not then nor anytime since consent to do. Can I get an amen? We come out of our bodies like lanterns swaying in the hands of pilgrims approaching through mist. Or are we ourselves darknesses against which some greater light asserts a holy refulgence? I long for a church in which to forget everything, a prayer that will soothe every untouched ache and unmet cry. Dust to dust is no comfort now I know that we live forever in the other's sacred heart. Another day passes, another letter goes unwritten. I wanted to travel but learned instead to be a road. You pass over me and I moan and you mistake my moans for rain. Lifetime after lifetime after lifetime. All things remain in God - all things for good - but Christ what I paid to learn it.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Closer to Bafflement

Geese pass. And Easter makes a new demand: face the interior Thomas and love him with all your heart. Thus the many imperfections arise, between baking bread and watering horses, between walks at odd hours and sleeping on the couch, between sorrows that are closer to bafflement than any actual loss. Rain dries on the quiet stretch of Main Street faced by the old parsonage, mottled clouds hanging heavy and low. If I knew you once, I no longer make that assertion, and in my ignorance and humility something is born that doesn't insist on sole prerogatives. The angel who is quietest in me, who with me navigates the inner and outer throngs, bears the weight of my attention in a way the old ones said was "graceful." To be anchored is to stay in one place yet everybody knows that all the water at once is the lake, not this or that portion, nor this or that taste. I press my tongue to the moss of the front yard maple - taste earth and something sweet but faint - then kiss it gently, both thrilled and embarrassed. The world goes on in gods who come and go. Dawn, Palm Sunday. This loneliness - this trouble - no woman or religion can soothe.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Between Drifting Clouds

Rain that could yet turn to snow, as if existence itself were subject to divine whim. Beyond the stars, more stars, and beyond them, darkness. So I studied a thousand years and learned nothing but a couple simple hymns, so what? At night, the tent flap makes a rustling sound, the breeze coming and going, and my loneliness deepens accordingly. Venus hangs briefly visible between drifting clouds, and one wonders about the moon, which long ago was a kind of lover, attendant and willing. My subject in those days was movement, perturbations in the whole which could not help but be ecstatic. Broken travel plans became the period at which a certain sentence ends and a new one begins. We swim in the same lake but given darkness can only tell the other is near by how the water ripples at our shoulders. Penumbras, adorations, complines. What is the middle of east and west but everywhere? My prayer is you reading this aloud alone in your neat poustinia, floating in me in precisely the way the unfaithful believe is impossible because of space, time, distance and mass. Our mouths full of amen and alleluia, our hands baking bread to feed the poor. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Messy Intimacy and Resultant Dialogue

We lived in a dream but the dream passed. Downstairs I hear the whir of a sewing machine, the hiss of a tea kettle, the low murmur of a mother talking to her oldest daughter. Abruptly, one has to relearn what it means to love, and in doing so reflects on the Chinese understanding of crisis as a time of both danger and opportunity. Crocuses, crack-ups, cranberry bean stew. Early confusion about sex - largely in terms of not being ready for the messy intimacy and resultant dialogue - bleeds into my early fifties, leaving me raw and unsteady considering love. Elderly layer hens tear at the lawn, Jeremiah tears at the bracken overwhelming the flower garden, and I tear at the closet in my heart which hides - or once hid - the Lord. Please me please? The point is, Hansel grows up and knows he was saved by a power greater than himself but can't say how or who, and in this way the patriarchy goes on mindlessly violate. "If you'd like to get your shit together, now would be a good time." The vast desert of our denial, the hurt any sacrifice engenders. Tomorrow I will write you a long letter, you whose name I am forbidden to utter.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Blessed by Other Witches

Question your assumptions, especially when they press you into quick action. Sunlight streams after three days rain and snow and I go outside with coffee to listen to birds and ask if their song is changed. A lifetime reading is a life well-spent, whatever else one says. Perhaps a way out of the patriarchy - its rigid emphasis on zero-sum gamesmanship as a means of enforcing orders not implied by nature - is through listening and making amends. Chickadees rest on the rickety fence between our yard and the neighbor's. Do you trust me not to lie? When she described what she wanted from me, I realized how frightened of the world I am, and went off in a new direction blessed by other witches. The ideal of love is not a mystery - it is in fact continually given - but we do misplace it. Bits of hay and gravel near the barn door picked through by wrens who intuitively grasp that I'm not a threat. How radiance extends effortlessly, and how observers are only sometimes necessary. Thank you Lord! This balance is not the point, this dance is not the end. The surface of the lake is death to trout. Near the swale's reedy bottom, we are born yet again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Mind is Triangular, Polysyllabic

How as kids we candled eggs in the kitchen. By what sorcery was the nineteenth century allowed to live in your brain? Frost spackles the potato garden where we talk with our shoulders hunched. Six p.m., hour when the dead visit without recognizing anything. Geese pass, their guttural cries a reminder of some kind, of what perhaps will outlast us. REM cycles, condoms, buttercrunch ice cream. How we parked, climbed into the truck bed, and made love, bark from the day before's firewood in your hair. You wait all night for what's coming down from the hill and in the morning you're waiting there still. D minor chords, trucks rolling slowly up Main Street, as if the driver were searching for someone walking. What in mind is triangular, polysyllabic. The revelation was given too early and I am what happened as a result. Standing in the barn while it rains, gazing out the open door at the neighbor's sheep, unconcerned in the bland wet landscape. Another sip, another step. Something is always being born and we miss it because of our odd obsession with death. Imagine passing a cup of coffee back and forth, tired after a long day's work, letting the weather be weather, and love, love.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Taught by Hawks or Angels

The allowances we make! I write all morning, the clouds of the past two days rolling away, taking a wet snow with them. I begin circling again - the sentence, the subject, the sun - as if in a past life I was taught by hawks or angels the proper way to worship (which is merely to survey the world intensely). When you reach the laws, you begin to wonder at the law-maker, and when you search for the law-maker, you reach a woman for whom your intellect and wit are a test she passed lifetimes ago and is called to administer now unto you. As the day progresses - breakfast, work, phone calls, cooking, chores - one's understanding of the various social cues diminishes, only to be regained in dreams that retain the vivid intensity of childhood. Don't say "yes" so much as "thank you" and "how can I help." The writing is a teacher but the reader who says "yes" to its implicit request is your spiritual therapist, given that you might remember how to form the words "thank you" and "how can I help" with your otherwise clumsy tongue. A witch? Well, there is something dangerous in your mind that the forest quiets and the sea obliterates. Be not afraid indeed. Salt, yeast, sandalwood, thyme. Basil, rivers and poorly-tuned mandolins. My senses steer me to your body, oblivious to distance and etiquette, begging my soul to write whatever poem will make you naked (all the nakeds) fastest. Put a rose in your sentences, put its stem in your mouth. In the dream, there are no more pages for me to fill and none for you to turn. Shall we write at the same table over coffee? Shall we mortgage personal circumstances for the Lord?

Monday, May 18, 2020

A Gentler and More Durable Prayer

She shared her shoulders with me twice, the second time in a dim light at two a.m., the soft curve of her breasts meeting where shadows began, an intimacy that undid my lifelong emphasis on images. When the altar is ruined, a gentler and more durable prayer begins. God is always the way you can best apperceive Her, which apperception is what God is. The snow stops falling around the time we begin chores, the horses stomping fast-melting snow into mud, chickens scrawing for early Spring worms. A lot is revealed at the juncture where one is no longer allowed to say "late" or "not too late." The man decries his residence on Main Street, yet the landscape is oddly welcoming, reminding him of a collective he has too long disdained. Shall we gather at Golgotha and repent? Shall we revisit the old motel in Albany and rehearse again the unity of our shared body? Yesterday when I looked in the mirror, a chickadee gazed back, long enough to remind me of a confused and lonesome man whose gift for baking bread has never reached his own hunger. "Not yet," whispers the Lord. "Not yet my child but soon."

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Other Collectives, Other Worlds

Light snow falls, melting on the Main Street hardtop but layering the back yard and pasture in a crystalline veil, a surprise and joy and not at all a worry. It is as if I am searching for something yet only ever find the one who searches for something and only recently understand that even this as such does not constitute a problem. Is it a word game then? Are the sentences construals of application and consent? Barthes was an early model of what can happen when you read in a close and critical way. My insistence on you in various positions - which is merely desire not denying itself - is not a transgression in the divine sense but there are boundaries one has to cross and consequences one has to accept and the Lord is mostly quiet with respect to the precise mechanics thereof. In the morning before the others are awake I take my coffee to the front porch and shiver listening to birds singing - chickadees, juncos, cardinals, crows, robins and grackles and blue jays - who collectively are evidence of other neighborhoods, other collectives, other worlds, and other ways of organizing living. In your permissiveness I slip away. Witches stay put, spiders stay put but boys with big ideas were made to travel? On that note - briefly of a westward mind - I briefly slip into light.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

This But Another Way

Between falling rain, bird song. Braids knotting gray clouds to the now-snowless earth. My love is this but another way.

The peace that surpasses understanding which, paradoxically, one encounters through a disciplined and sustained effort to understand. The God of spiders, the God of trout, the God of Heraclitus, and the God of all this and more. We leave notes around the house, reminders we are here.

It is like a light that exists around the skull, a sun appearing where you thought there was a brain, and now it is seeping out in beams and rays of purest gold. Love as a text, encompassing and complex, deliciously. I go for a long drive through the hilltowns in which I was raised, offering prayers for black bears who are waking up hungry.

The man who can't bring himself to cut down the side yard lilac even though it has not bloomed in two years. Grackles unevenly up and down the phone wire chattering. Whatever we believe, we can be argued out of believing: this is my church, all my fathers be damned.

We talk about the kids falling to sleep, holding hands under the blanket, a sexless happiness enfolding us. "He told good stories, he was a damn fine writer." I stand on the front porch with coffee on Sunday morning, a little after six a.m., listening to rain fall, wondering what I don't notice.

One peers through apple trees at the dawn, doesn't one. There are seams everywhere through which hints and intimations flow, allowing us to piece together the narrative that is our fundament. Good kissers in the back seat indeed!

Yet some of the rules do change, don't they. We who insist on sacraments, whose voices are never not in a song it seems we are made to compose.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Aspiration Embodied

Two geese circling from the north to whom the horses give no attention. Always notice what you notice. Hunger is not a sin, therefore feeding it is not a crime. Jagged hills define the valley in which sometimes in summer lightning is seen at a distance. Define joy? My sister near Grand Rapids, my sister in Christ. Overnight frost appears on the arching limbs of wild raspberry bushes, spackles the potato garden like handfuls of divinely flung sea salt, its collective holiness defying the camera's bland eye. If you listen, you can hear the river over and above the traffic on Route Nine, and over and above all that, a softer hum to which your heart and lungs readily harmonize. We are aspiration embodied. Whatever I feared has gone, and what remains is my childish love of fear, my patience with what makes it hard to be so happy. Were they lost after all or are we simply finding our own selves? My broken heart, my luminous hands, my wordy poems. The sky in which our shared soul brightens, and stuff.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Still Mostly Undiscovered

How tired I am of all fathers! A robin comes to rest on the bare maple limb outside the window, its marigold breast bright with sun, and writing begins. "Everything is connected," says the man for whom shoes are always somewhere else, often lost, hard to get, et cetera. Shall we compare pancake recipes, you and I?

Stepping outside at dawn to piss off the back porch, urine thrumming where in spring the tiger lilies will sprout then arch in unison east. A skilled liar is a kind of truth-teller. One wakes early in physical discomfort which by nine a.m. has given rise to a full-fledged emotional crisis. Whatever you can't put into words may yet be put into words.

Wait! Sometimes the writing becomes unsustainable in terms of psychological tenor. Late snow softens in the horse pasture, blurring with mud. There is something crows know that you don't, and there is a juncture in life where you know that you don't know it, and that is when holiness as such becomes possible.

One sifts through ash in search of bread. Attention is a) subject to discipline and b) possessed of its own intelligence and care: this was a nontrivial insight in 201? and possibly the greatest gift you gave me. The nexus between Jane Austen and Wordsworth (and Wordsworth still mostly undiscovered). Perhaps there is virtue in dithering?

Do not trust what you think! For example, two days ago I wrote three thousand words about my father that a day later I realized was fiction, and it scared the hell out of me. Bone broth with cauliflower and sausage sprinkled with pepper. Sipping moonlight from my grandmother's porcelain tea cup again, hoping you will do the same, where ever you are.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

At Last I See New Englandly

Is it late or early and most importantly who will say? At 3 a.m. Dad and I face one another in ways we could not manage while he lived. Before dawn - which is to say in shadows bunching under wind-blown corn tassels in 1972 - a chickadee sings, its clear notes briefly my cupped hands. Who helps and who means to help but only hurts? I circle the barn unsteadily, studying the snow for skunk tracks, worried did it make it out to scavenge. The gift includes awareness of the other's suffering, a puzzle I leave for you to solve. My father had a lucky encounter with the Lord as a child and now look. Words do take the edge off the constant need to face one's inability to save anything, especially what one loves, yet the failures go on anyway. At last I see New Englandly. Snow falls from high in the hemlocks, sighing as it sifts downward through bent green boughs, barely noticeable reaching the ground. We are made to go home to the Lord, a fact I remember best in our shared bed. I have done things I may yet be asked to answer for and insist on freedom for all of us anyway. Here is the infinite prayer of blue skies after a storm, and here is the sentence in which we say "no more sentences," including the one which includes the lamentations of those who have yet to forgive their fathers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Observed by Strangers

I was mistaken about the crocuses, but not about the crows, whose cries echo over the landscape. It is always the second sentence in a paragraph which alerts me to the paragraph's subject. In the body it can be hard to breathe, while in the mind one struggles to say why it is hard to breathe, and yet the body goes on hissing and aching. The work, as such, clarifies, and the clarification is felt as a blessing. Fionnghuala nudges me from a light nap in which I dream I am being observed by strangers and reminds I promised to make lasagna. In the kitchen one listens to their child talk about Easter, which the body hears as "will there ever be another Easter?" to which the soul gently replies "it is always Easter, silly boy." When will we be alone? Sunlight grazes the street as dusk gathers, taking on a briefly copper hue before the deep blue of just before night ensues. There are plans in the mind of God to which I enjoy no access. Can we agree at least on the problem? Like the idea of ghosts, the past disappears, and we are left with pine trees and forsythia bushes in which chickadees gambol. It's possible I try too hard. That slow burn in the center of me: if it's not love, what is it?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Not Yet Beyond Learning

How blue the river can be in late winter, winding between horse-sized rocks and banks dotted with remnant snow and shadows of pine. How smoky I get drawing near you, like a fire in the late hours! Driving west alone is a kind of release, a letting go, a kind of sensing that one has been wrong in critical ways but is not yet beyond learning. Precious openings unto the Lord? Well, the day before a storm, the world visibly careening, and my woman worried, visibly.

One walks all morning to find a gap in the trees by which to enter the forest and then enters the forest, albeit alone and without a dog (which are two different conditions). When you kneel in late winter and study pools where the river slows and becomes glassy - where once you looked for trout, plotting without remorse to kill - you see how you are transparent, or translucent, and that there is nothing to let go of, including the idea of letting go. Joy and the juncture at which one finds it and Jes - I mean joy and the juncture at which one finds it, period. Religion, then. Fidelity.

Flexibility? Well, a Law that works for as many of us as possible anyway. One does mostly love the one they're with, doesn't one. Buddha goes on being a statue of the Buddha no matter how much patchouli you rub on his ceramic scalp. One allows for color - blue, say - and over a decade the world falls apart in a way that begs to be redeemed. It was not love exactly, as it taught me to understand love, and yet without it, what else but love was even possible? I don't know what I don't know and long only to be met in that emptiness, make love and tea and bread in that emptiness, and rest at last (in her arms) in that emptiness.

She shrugs leaning in kissing me and what is loose on her shoulders falls to the floor - it is yellow and soft to touch and it does not fall to the floor - but hangs in the dim light forever, an infinite flare in eternal summer, as if Albany were Jerusalem, the motel room a sacristy, and our unapologetic nakedness the only gift a loving God could ask.

Yesterday, walking back from the river as the sun rose, a low mist filled the meadow and I could not see below my knees. How cold it was! When I turned to you, you were there, and though I did not know what to give you nor how to even address you in my wretchedness and grief, you did not leave or judge me. A woman leans into the sky to open a window, letting a blue and gold light stream into my body, and after all those years alone we are at last alone together, and thus arrive in one another in a slow way, an earned way, a way that renders the whole world the very possibility of happiness, ours.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Deep in the Cloister

Sunlight effaced by dense clouds rolling out of the forest and ascending over the pasture. One has to learn how to sleep again, and how to discern between the many dreams that compete for their attention. Mary Oliver poems for the ten thousandth time at a juncture fueled in part by the ongoing insight that we do not know what we do not know. Side glances, little smiles. I pace back and forth in the hay loft near midnight, shivering but grateful for the spare moonlight coming in through the windows. We make nothing for ourselves alone, for we are not ourselves alone. Spring, say the chickadees, flitting from limb to limb. Love, says the moon, skating like an oyster shell across the tidal stars. Only this, says my heart, deep in the cloister lovers build when over and over they whisper Her Name. 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Thus the Grim Purgatory

The river laps grassy banks near the bend where a swift tumble turns the water white like the way I remember snow. Mist settles in the meadows, not quite reaching half a dozen Canadian geese, whose sleep is fretful and full of rustling. In the 1970s it was either summer or winter, with brief intervals of Halloween and Easter. Continuity in its way was the law. Whatever the adults around me named "religious" was instantly lost in the welter of sound to which I was always consenting to be enchanted by: wind in the crowns of pine forests, crows in the distance, owls in the darkness, muffled sheep blats in the barn, rain falling on cows who didn't mind I was there. Let go of your name and what is left is what you are when at last you meet the Lord. You remind me of that old dance, the one I learned before I learned there was such a thing as "partners." It went on for days and allowed you to believe in resurrected Christs and Heavens full of dead dogs and a love that was greater than all this. Yet the dead calves we buried broke him and his brokenness meant he could not teach me how to heal: thus the grim purgatory I had to write my way out from. "No church, no woman, no way" was always the truth and the light! We are not bereft who travel alone, and anyway, we're not alone. He said so back in the day, and I was a good boy who listened.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Love Came

In spring rain, in ragged Vs, geese circle the distant cornfield then settle. Night comes to this, day comes to this. I write through the morning, now and then studying the work of those who are dead, now and then studying the work that those who are dead studied while they wrote through the morning. In the hemlocks, blue jays, and on the stone wall that still stands between the near neighbor and the next-nearest, a cardinal. Let the song be sung, the prayer prayed. I remember as a child in the early 70s passing military convoys on the turnpike east and flashing them peace signs which to a one they returned, a memory I go back to often when I despair for the hearts of men. Pockets of gray slush in the driveway slide towards the barn to melt later in the day. Love came and here we are. Love came, here we go.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Preferring Praying

You moaning, accelerating, while behind you I grunt and thrust, one hand on the small of your back, the other on your hip holding up the skirt you made with cloth your mother bought in Greece last summer. I make coffee in the dark, listening to the rain, letting the world of men with their guns crumble at last. The Lord's visits intensify - beginning around midnight and extending well into the dawn. I'm exhausted and happy and only sometimes given to the wordiness that so long insisted on defining me. What is the world but the constraints to which we consent before knowing what it means to say yes? I soften inside you, unwilling to separate, listening to you catch your breath. How efficient we are between kitchen and pantry, garden and hay loft. You kiss me after, beads of sweat on your upper lip grazing my cheek. All this for what? The Nameless One who does not pass, who asks nothing and takes nothing? How generous the Lord is, leaving me bibles, Emily Dickinson poems, and science. Playing, preferring, praying. How grateful I am for the familiar ritual, how comforting our shared penetration of the veil.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Eschewing Names and Labels

I say there is a stillness in which words cannot be uttered. I speak of a field in which nothing can be said. What is described is gone and the description is its grave. Tides are the sea not needing us to live, as the moon only seems to follow secret trails through the sky. Our skulls open and blue lights float across the landscape, like a child's dream of having fireflies for friends. It's a dream to think you can follow Christ, or fall in love with a special someone, or even know what's real and what's not. I take your hand, take you to the hay loft, let you do to me what you say you want to do to me. Who is born is already dead and who dies was never born. Nothing intrudes on the inner peace born of eschewing names and labels.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Singing Our Shared Strange Song

Love came. Pine trees tower over low-rolling acres where in Emily Dickinson's day were sheep. The miles go on and going on goes on. I don't argue I'm whole, don't say I'm not broken. In 1971 or 2 my heart opened unto a forest witch who filled the bloody meat with a dream of chickadees in the mind of black bear. Stones rolled down hills in a dense fog that later would remind me of the false confidence of men. Up to my knees in the charred ruins of their world, I decline to invent a new prayer. Berries grow in the hollows, sunlight makes me sleepy. How much hungrier could I be then now, dreaming you on all fours, both of us singing our shared strange song to the stars.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Gifts I Can't Quite Bring Myself

These narrow windows through which we barely fit, these doors hanging slant in dusty frames. When I wake up rain thrums the the slate roof, car wheels hiss going up and down Main Street. What is the origin of fear? Is there only one question and only one answer? And who will say to my satisfaction? One day we will sip from the last cup of coffee ever, and the truth will not depend on whether or not we know it. As now the Lord visits and lingers, leaving notes for how to find Him after, gifts I can't quite bring myself to tell Him have arrived too late. It's not emptiness exactly, nor loneliness. It's not precisely sorrow. My heart was ruined fifty years ago and everything since has been stitches and triage. Up to my knees in a slow stream, I say what the currents say. Quiet has left the world in me. My mouth, my love, is the grave of God.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

A Slow Clumsy Dance to Celebrate

It's not like I made a decision - "sentences instead of lines" - and yet here we are, twelve or so years later, wading through awkward semantics and grammars. It's sort of like a country rather than a city, or a marriage rather than a wedding, or death rather than a funeral. We know that we know - we can reflect on reflecting - and whatever boon that recursiveness enables, it also enables some nontrivial banes. There is so much for which I want to apologize and yet the time for sorry has passed, hasn't it. There will be no cabin, no clearing in the forest, no mutual slip into the well of shared sleep. Yet after midnight I do go walking in the little village in which I am apparently going to die a stranger and can say with justification that I'm not unhappy. And will that be sufficient after all? One pauses to listen to the river, its spring spate gushing in a darkness that doesn't have to end but will. So I was unlucky, so what? Here where the years become brittle as jerky, I skip a little approaching the front stairs. I do a slow clumsy dance to celebrate the end of another winter. My last? Look, there on the horizon, the yellow moon.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

In Artifice Forever

Where else would I be if not here wishing I were somewhere else? So much revolved around women in this life, even writing itself, and yet I was not so dense as to miss the ones who were my teachers. "Whiskey on shares" we used to say out in the forest when we were supposed to be hunting but were instead getting drunk, talking about girls and getting out of Worthington, which in the end I did not. A man is always in part what his Dad thinks of him, but he can also discover Emily Dickinson poems and fall in love with chickadees. Earlier Douglas shared half a dozen poems, all of which were so deeply authentically emotional that I was instantly ashamed of these antiseptic sentences. This heart is a half-empty factory, a death knell or belfry, a bevy of laid-up emotion going brittle on the shelves. It's like we can all want to be poets but we can't all be poets. You study a certain map all your life only to learn there was a territory it represented, and when you raise your eyes to take in the territory all you can see is the map begging you to rest your eyes on it again. "Who am I to argue" is not a question I ever asked, unfortunately. One shores up a future so long as the body requires, but another voice speaks now and oddly only my heart can hear it. There is not precisely a church and there are not precisely vows, but something new is being born where yesterday was wind and rain. In mid-March I remember I am always in her thoughts. These poems, these images, this prayer: must I rest in artifice forever?

Friday, May 1, 2020

I Do Not Lift My Eyes

There are worse things than starting over. And there is no middle, no matter what the rest of you says. It's Sunday - just after midnight - and I am restless, like a man who has lost the moon.

Did I mention that I have a body? Distraction, not detail, is my narrative gift. When I walk up and down Main Street, I own the tired gait of a black bear who lacks the concept of time required to understand the finality of death and so merely assumes he's succumbing to a deeper - more private - sleep.

I played a game that I'm hungry but it ended up being I'm hoarding so reluctantly I stopped. Yesterday I saw the fine worn grains of Chrisoula's face and realized we are together passing into the country of old people and was grateful for such a worthy companion. As T.S. Eliot said - (also, fuck T.S. Eliot) - I know what I must do.

Crows atop the compost, yet another familiar image. Some boys like birds, some boys want to know it's okay they're not feeling like a loaded gun. The cross and the lotus, the prose poem and the lap dulcimer, the bare shoulder and the plaid flannel shirt falling forever, never reaching any floor to which I am privy.

My son explains that the song I wrote when I was twenty was trying for the Dorian mode and grins awkwardly when I kiss him and praise his knowledge. Over western hills something beckons but it will go on beckoning now my attention is moving elsewhere. Walking up Main Street I pull my wool cap tighter, study the fall of each foot, and resolve not to slip.

Or will we get there one day? I putter quietly around the downstairs near one a.m., not wanting to wake anyone but not ready to sleep, and interested as always in how things look. Once you know the reading list is going to outlive you, you start to understand what Emily Dickinson was getting at in certain poems, i.e., it's late but not too late.

So long as I do not lift my eyes or indulge any fantasy of climbing, I am allowed to place my hand on the lowest rung. After the wedding comes the marriage, after the marriage comes the last true love, and after the last true love comes the Lord in her rocker, stitching and pulling stitches from the vast luminous quilt you last laid eyes on at about age four.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

My Overtures Now

There is no outside. Because we are dependent on language to structure perception, and because language is inherently ideological, the world is always given to us already ideologically formed. There is always relationship. When I was younger I kept lists but now I just sit or stand quietly outside and let them sing. Not only can you not take it with you, you can't even hold it in the interim! I want to use the word "vireo" in a poem but don't because I haven't seen one recently but also am concerned this misunderstands a critical function of poetry which is to bring forth the world which one desires. The confusion of self-criticism with honesty makes all the lies make sense. On daylight savings Sunday we get to the horses an hour later than usual and they whinny calling us, tight coils like rope unfurling in morning chill. One of the stories I have not adequately told is about the dead calves and burying them with my father who like most men when faced with grief just dug a grave. Two cups of coffee into the morning and this is what you've got? In another setting, I write a permission slip for use of the word "soul." I was pleased with myself once, the pleasure informing a lot of what continues to appear. Is it possible we confused our hunger for something else? The moon declines my overtures now. In my bed a wild rose bush, the folds keeping me up all night in the posture of one crying "mercy."

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

From the Inside Out

This is part two. This is the first part again but differently. This is all there is. This is a remix. This is listening.

This is sitting quietly doing "sitting quietly doing nothing." This is the first cup of coffee but with cinnamon. This is the ongoing sexual fantasy which paradoxically is also its own release. This is coming to terms with Tara Singh. This is the real hunger.

This is my son soloing in a bar and the quiet of everyone suddenly listening and this is my jealousy of his excellence and my fear he will miss a note. This is a poem for the one who needs it. This is a sentence. This is how dizzy I am studying the past. This is the second part.

This is what's next. This is the idea of order. This is the real hunger coming to terms with Tara Singh. This is for the women who were helpful once. This is from the inside out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Outside the Error

and begin

I want to use the word "vireo" in a poem. I want a sentence that does not begin with "I" and has nothing to do with want, regardless of the words it uses. In the morning, walking away from the horses, wondering what, if anything, the crows have to do with me.

The prose is now through with me? There is distance and there is false distance, which is the illusion of distance in which we are all complicit, as servants of "The Man." In a sense, yes, I have shoes and wear them but in another, no, I have gone shoeless for decades and shall go to my grave thusly.

Like that? The order by which the family alludes to me - allows reference to me - is no longer an order in which I have any influence. One walks for hours through a pine forest that was once a sheep pasture, where now and again one remembers the distinction.

Manages the reflection? If you could only see the way your questions are a form of begging for a preferred answer, then you would know peace (or something like it, something near to it). In the bar on Friday I was lost, and scared because I was lost, and angry because I was scared.

Amen. The chimney collapses, or starts to collapse. There is this ongoing need for moonlight, for knowing where precisely the moon has gone, which is a way of being in relationship with the sky, and with distance.

Or did I say that already? Baudrillard warns us that the system is too strong, resistance is futile, and even the rebellion becomes fodder for its ongoing blossoming. A cancer cell, a pretty dell, a resignation to the sound of "oh well."

There is no outside. The error was laying a rose at her door when what she wanted was a wreath and what we needed - both of us - was a quieter wedding that did not call attention to itself, didn't insist on beginnings or ends, and studied - not worshiped - the relationship between fireflies and night.