Sunday, September 20, 2020

On A Lonely Plains

Wasted.

Left for dead on a windy plateau, a warning, a show.

Shielding a small fire from rain with my body.

Scrubbing blood from a gallows, a marble block behind the coliseum, a cufflink.

Sorting through my confusion between museums and libraries.

Asleep on horseback on a lonely plains.

Sleeping with herpetologists out of pity.

Defending not sleeping while dreaming.

Far from church or chapel, shrine or temple, confessional.

Untroubled by death.

Burning old journals.

Writing "memory is a specific form of forgetting" and wondering why.

Pausing to watch swamp trout dart through sun-pillared shallows. 

Followed by an eagle.

Fraught.

Regretful.

Given to wishes, wishing.

In relationship with a basilisk.

Re-reading Frankenstein and Lord of the Rings.

Altared.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Prayer is Mother

The prayer is: Mother I want to see you.

My left arm hurts and can't be lifted. Warblers sing to each other in the lengthening twilight, a loveliness I can just bear. 

Narratives in which apple trees predominate. 

We leave as if nothing bad has happened. In a sense - a nontrivial sense - the temple never fell in the first place. Gunshots persuade the horses to come back to the fence line closest to the house.

The many pornographies of which we are comprised.

The prayer is also ongoing, mutual, unconcerned with its reception. Interpretative dance projects. 

Do acorns bruise falling?

Self-aversion as a strategy for inner peace.

The outdoor oven - which has not been used in almost a decade - softens with blurry mosses.

Remember jitterbugs: it is the dance that makes the dance floor, not the other way around. 

Low-flying military planes to which I extend a middle finger, which annoys the neighbor who's a cop, who comes over and asks me to show some respect, to which I suggest that exercises of free speech constitute respect, which only exacerbates our difficulties, which I knew would happen, which Chrisoula reminds me, to which I mutter "but still" to which she replies by kissing me on the cheek, right there on Main Street in full view of everyone watching the dispute and really, what other joy will suffice? 

I mean, yes, I really did go to Ireland but also, really, isn't Ireland - aren't we all - a state of mind? 

Buckling under sundry pressures.

As night begins - as twilight ceases to be a relevant category - we begin to see a soft pink on the eastern horizon, barely noticeable - maybe not even there save in a sentence - but still.

Two cups of coffee, a mental note to read Camille Paglia again, and a lot of mutual praise.

This is the end, amen.

Friday, September 18, 2020

A Little More Bittersweet Ascends

So this is the silence to which you were referring! So many gods speak to me now that the One God no longer has to argue or even try to be heard.

In your heart there are many rooms.

Many ellipsis.

In my heart, a fireproof floor, and in my soul, a long sigh. 

Letters to the Creatrix.

At dusk a cloudless sky, as if good news about the horses were heard overhead as well. Plans for early October begin, a sense we are eclipsing some old stagnation. Going down on you, lingering at your thighs.

Seven geese, then twenty geese, pass overhead. I am oriented accordingly.

And the garden dies a little, and then dies a little more. 

Bittersweet ascends the dying poplar.

Not so long ago the devil moved on this landscape, belted in black and reeking of ashpits, and yet even that is undone.

Piles of kindling we don't burn will winter over by the raspberries. Sunflowers in starlight. The killdeer we used to excite, walking at four a.m. in old potato fields, up and down the airstrip adjoining a pair of fire ponds.

Slowing for deer crossing Kinnebrook Road and not picking back up. Two hours of discourse, revolutionary animism. 

Why not walk in pairs?

Thursday, September 17, 2020

I Dream of Us Laughing

Is it wrong I want to follow Her? At night she wakens me at three a.m. and I walk through the yard to the apple trees. My heart is cavernous, duplicit, fatty and brass. 

Apples fall in the cold wet grass of August. The stars say "winter." Night winds rattle the second story. Whose town is this?

Crickets singing in jewelweed, toads scuttling off the stairs when I pass. How agile we are when in need.

And another story and another.

Eighteen-wheelers grind up Main Street to the hardware store. Wearing hats while walking that belonged to my father. In a dream, a friend who became a therapist says, "it's not supposed to be this hard."

Big fury. My nightscape.

One of these robins may be the last robin I'll ever see in this life and will I know, do I want to know.

Suddenly the gods are speaking to me again, rising up in me from deep places to nudge the writing this way or that. Complicity requires a collective. 

It begins in black I say of his art and years later he tells me how helpful it was, that observation. I dream of her hands undoing my belt, I dream of us laughing at how long it took to find the requisite trail.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

What was Stolen

I mean the shadows of the horses. Clouds far away, like trout in a low river. 

Walking all morning to where in winter the river will freeze beneath wheels and tables of ice.

From a distance, goldfinches in the sunflowers, and the specific joy of saying so. Chrisoula brings coffee, bad news

Thumping sounds in the horse trailer. Giving back what was stolen, refusing everything else. 

Everything else.

Shadows beyond the horse pasture which are openings in the forest through which one can make out nothing. The witch, the woman the witch became, and the man who sees them both.

Holding hands in bed before sleep, too tired to make love. It all burns, goes up in smoke. 

For years I confused my father with a fire, and fire for something you cared for. Gunshots, soul shots. The abyss littered with selfies.

Forget-me-nots. Second thoughts. Snakes curled up in flower pots.

Whole flocks of birds traveling south, reminding me of grief, and what grief comes to.

Butterflies, better days, these bitter drafts my throat cannot renounce.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Soul Begins Foreshadowing

This vale of tears, these morning glories that don't quite scale the chicken pen. These worries, fears, these ballet moves.

Sometimes it snows in late October. Sometimes the dolls wake up and wonder why you are so difficult to play with. 

Geese cross the lower east panels of sky above the hills and you count them - six maybe seven - and then they are gone. 

The river is mostly gone.

Morning passes half asleep, waking to write a few sentences, rewrite a few sentences, boil water for tea, forget to make tea, worrying about money, meetings later, inter-library loans. There is less to say than yesterday, and only I can say it.

Articles about oyster-farming on Cape Cod making me wish I was an oyster farmer. Lost intimacies, lost time. When she comes upstairs to fight, a choking feeling in back of my soul begins foreshadowing resolution. Wear something black can also mean a funeral is coming. Selah.

Sirrah.

The surrey with the fringe on top. 

Sheep-farming as a model of escapism, the monastery as an escape. Losing interest as an escape.

Goldfinches in the sunflowers. A surplus heart makes the world safe again for romance. Tell me yet again what your Dad said driving back from Saint Louis about why he left your Mom. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

In My Tears and Gratefulness

Nobody says anything anymore. Just shy of noon I finish a rosary, go inside and eat cold pork from yesterday.

We are dusted with time.

Robins perch on fence posts that lean awkwardly in sunlight, untended for many decades now. Dried stems of tiger lilies. Degrees of intensity. Dirt gods.

Desire.

Densities of starlight so bright and wild that my heart expands unto infinity to encompass them.

Drawing the curtains, undressing, all under her watchful eye. 

Kneeling to wash Chrisoula's feet, losing track of the time in my tears and gratefulness. 

All night lost under the hemlock trees, swaying in light breezes, crying out unto the many entities crying out in turn to us.

Your letter arrived.

Lycanthropes, licenses, logjams, lust.

How shall we describe dying? How shall we weep when our eyes are become dust?

Goldfinches in the garden, grackles in the chicken pen. Gray skies telling a story in which in two hours or so it rains. 

I shall make clothespins by hand, I shall absolve myself of sin.

The trail my love it widens.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sex and Time and the Lord

At a distance, chainsaws. Due west, my love.

One writes and days later what they write appears differently on the page. Passersby. Passenger pigeons.

Breaded lamb chops, caramelized onions. We share a beer on the front porch, not talking which is - at a late stage of the marriage - talking, deeply.

Trimming forsythia so that it doesn't extend into the sidewalk, making it easier for older neighbors to walk with canes and walkers. 

Spun glass. Spitting.

Near midnight I wake and go to the window and the stars are so glorious that I go outside and stand in the driveway awestruck, sure I have lived before, a thousand lifetimes, and in this one am meant only to give thanks, over and over.

How we cry in the dusty stairwell leading to the hay loft, how we hold each other in the dim light, as if for life.

Contemplating trees that need to be cut down, which I do not want to cut down yet which - because they jeapordize the horse pasture and the horses - I will cut down. Forgive me yet again, Goddess.

For years it mattered that I'd had sex on a hill overlooking the bay opposite Castleton-Beire but now I don't know, now it feels as if I was confused, deeply, about love and sex and time and the Lord.

We who are executing a nontrivial end run around monotheism which, paradoxically, does nothing unjust to the divine. 

"Optimism," I say, to which she adds, "and margaritas," to which I say gently but without conviction, "and margaritas, yes."

Hungering for turtle meat and longing to be straddled again by the fire.

The first ghost, the last ghost, the in-between ghosts, the middle.

Seriously, whose dream is this?

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Allowance more than Cultivation

Making love in full view of the wasp's nest.

In 2016 I entered a swale - went down - and was brought eye-to-eye with demons whose lifebreath is nihilism, and whose clutches appeared as fucking to me, a confusion I am only just now escaping.

Listening to eggs fry. Fried bread with maple syrup. 

At dawn, before the children awaken, I kneel and wash your feet, a 30-day ritual _____ asked of me, which I give gladly.

Waiting on the gallows, wind rustling our pant legs. Let us not overly worship the camera or its productions, okay?

Last of the coffee.

And summer ending, and certain loves.

We study the sideyard poplar as we do every summer before deciding not to cut it, as we do every summer. Neighbors slow in passing, small talk filling the space between us. 

Eggplant parmagiana, gluten free pancakes.

Be a good symbiote!

Is one ever finished praying a rosary?

Truly, actually, whole-heartedly. Presently.

Thanks to the neighbors for helping - through allowance more than cultivation - a meaningful milkweed patch to grow.

Emily Dickinson in the river and not drowning. My heart is the river which does not know - but forever reaches toward - the sea. 

We lock the doors, we "turn in," and this is love - at last it is love.

Friday, September 11, 2020

A Rosary in Starlight

What has no antonym? 

Rinsing out the trash cans. The chicken whose legs weren't working a week ago is no longer distinguishable from those whose legs do work, so something is working.

One goes deeper into God, as into a difficult text

I find myself thinking of Cape Cod these days, the way it appears in my living as a dreamscape, an ecstatic landscape, visitable but not - for me - habitable. 

Shall we begin again?

At the transfer station I keep my head down, my fatigue such that dialogue is a peril. Juvenile hawks exploring their wings.

Purple loosestrife, roadside chicory.

What do you say on balance?

I make popcorn with paprika and cumin and we eat it side by side on the couch watching Golden Girls reruns, laughing at ourselves settling into the early stages of our dotage. Please: don't forget dysthymia.

When we use language, we construct a world of relationships from which we cannot escape, yet is escape as such desirable? He calls Northampton "Maskville" and I sigh, withdrawing a little from the conversation. Quarter-pounders grilled outside, roasted kale chips and malted vanilla milkshakes.

In the grocery store I hesitated by the gin, admiring the many shapes and colors of the bottles, and remembering years ago drinking gin and tonics with J. by the Connecticut River.

Outside the lines.

Divine revelation is ongoing and the reason it feels otherwise is our stupid addiction to ecstasy and misery, the wild twins of our childhood. 

Praying a rosary in starlight, knowing my solitude is my own now, and will only be shared on terms of another's making. 

"I like it when you do that - will you do it again?"

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Through the Night

Morning is one of the things that passes.

The dead fox on the airstrip does not pass.

Jeweled blood on its broken jaw.

Grackles overhead. Quiet overhead. My father told me stories, he was confident telling stories, and then one day the stories stopped.

What we learn from witches. Frogs and lumberjacks, ticks and kangaroos. 

Near midnight I slip into the backyard to stargaze, waiting on the Perseids which are gone they say, and yet.

When we are tired of sex, when we are exhausted by bodies. The soft fur covering the hot stones of my balls. Bells ringing. Words we don't use save in this or that context.

Promises we make to ourselves in the far back of the choir loft.

When prayer floats back and forth.

Crickets in the folded tarp near the chicken pen.

Apples fall through the night and in the morning we gather them and put them out for the hens.

Plans vs. what appears, and what just happens. Be less so more so.

The ocean gently moving against the shore, the interior of certain shells.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Reverent and Penitent Both

Cutting thread to bind the chicken's legs over stale bread for roasting. The fence breaks and half a dozen rams charge into the horse pasture, reach the center and stop, confused. I pat her ass passing and she hipchecks me, leading me back for a soft caress, a kiss, a murmur, a promise, a love

Going out later for a beer. Greek villages in which I learned what men had done to her, deepening my commitment to consent, chastity, dialogue.

"I want your tongue in me," she said, reclining on the futon couch in my one-room apartment on Church Street, opening her legs, before which I kneeled, reverent and penitent both. 

Associating the sound of geese with the sun setting over Lake Champlain. Reheated Thai noodles.

Her hand working around to the back of my head.

Yet on the drive to Mansfield to visit his grave, the conversation slackens, and it's like we're tired or something, or have suddenly discovered regions of the self we're obligated to explore alone. 

Venus twining over the low hills.

Luciferian pleasures.

Not liking it, doing it anyway, getting it done. Who doesn't need to be guided?

Gorged on?

A last book of poems in which her handwriting can be found, an anthology of Irish poets. I miss the pheasants of my childhood.

Crumbs, crosses. Craic.

These troubled times, these missing bridges.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Every Way but This

This dull heart experiencing itself as a muscle for the first time in forty some odd years. Geography merging with memory.

Manifest desire.

At night I dream of oceans slowly rolling up beaches in moonlight where no human foot has ever been.

After days fasting I close my eyes and become symbiotic, psychedelic.

CCR songs while driving west to pick up five hundred pounds of chicken food.

Spiritual smorgasbords at which we gorge, pretending we are somebody else.

This all too common today for so casual a leaf.

Dismantling the affair for spare parts, whatever I can take with me into the next phase of the marriage. 

The radical anthropomorphism.

She shudders coming, hand fisted near parted lips, eyes closed, reminding me of how poor I am in almost every way but this.

Bellies of swallows as they turn in the late August sunlight. Back roads, backsies. Backpacks.

Say there were fifteen disciples rather than twelve: what story would have been served thereby? What poem or other process is served by wondering why?

Getting high on the shore of Lake Champlain, later taking her hand and kissing near the water away from the others, her whispering "I'll do it if you want" unzipping my jeans, the whole night with her like swimming between the stars even now. 

And the sky will yet be free of us.

Chris comes over to talk, cheerful in the way he is cheerful, name-dropping local names, and I wonder for not the last time will I ever be free of the monkey?

Old men in the hay barn smiling at me, almost fifty years ago, and I pause stacking the bales remembering them, and how happy it was possible to be, in the days that came before these days came.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Always Yesterday

Faint clouds. A sense - accelerating - of emptiness, nothingness which is simply the other side of all this. We are all without God now but not without love?

Peach trees, persimmons. 

Garden beans fried with bacon and onions. 

Fried bologna, kool-aid. 

What does your mother like?

He died four years ago and it was yesterday, in a sense it was always yesterday, and grief responds accordingly. What drifts, what doesn't. 

Priests come by in the morning, having nothing to say but prattling endlessly the many scripts they didn't write. How he squeezed my hand, how the time passed.

Creaking swings.

The horses stomp at dusk - tails swishing - forever urging flies away, the flies returning. It is summer: this summer: there will never be another.

We are out of time who were given everything but time. The neighbors talking to their sheep, telling them to calm down, be nice.

To what do you give oxygen?

Our rotating globe makes it seem as if the sun is setting but the sun is not setting, only burning fiercely, tens of million miles away.

Nobody tends me, nobody can.

Secrets, like stones, keeping.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Of Salt and Excitement

Called.

Chickens croon to each other in the shade cast by hemlock trees. Hunger has no friend.

Morning glories ascending thready vines encircling the front yard maple.

Blind yet he runs when my daughter calls him, clear and true, bracing on arrival to a command uttered so low none of us outside the two of them - the half-blind circle they make in the universe - can hear it. 

Is this love? Is this?

Lost in the economy, joined by elephants and cobblers, all of us lamenting days gone by.

Sanctified. Satiated.

Space shuttle disasters. 

She lays down in the field with the horses, no book or pen, content to spend time with them longer. The past is what we remember, but not only, the world the way it is.

Buttercups, buttercrunch. Near the tomatoes, half a dozen marigolds on which bees rest, and an invisible hint of winter.

How low my voice gets a few moments before coming, the bottom of a marble staircase, the Greek sea at dawn. Syllables full of salt and excitement.

Groundhogs scurry out from the raspberry bushes. Translucent dragonfly wings, a late entry in the catalog of beautiful things I hope to take with me into the void. 

Be symbiotic, simple, save somebody.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Day Before a Fox

Grackle. Graceful.

Religion shifts into commerce, politics. 

Living religiously shifts elsewhere.

This green world.

In the grass to my left, and white and orange cat reclines.

"Some mother's son."

Tumescent moons.

Braying donkeys on the other side of the river, audible half a mile away. My heart, my wallet, my shoes.

Who is frightened of "who."

Shadows of me typing.

Was it yesterday or the day before a fox crept up alongside the goldenrod before noticing me noticing it and turning back.

Slips of forest. Lakefront property values.

Waiting on Jesus no more, and other declarations of freedom.

Shopping lists, shaving kits.

I remember giving you head in a field in Vermont at dusk and you said after "the sky was full of birds."

Reciprocity matters.

We are looking around, thinking things over, we are setting ourselves up for joy.

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Entropic Gala

Fifty or sixty grackles pass in a ragged flock, the collective patter of their wings beating the August sky, oddly alarming.

Cracked skin on my heels. Bees pass, nuzzling white clover by the kindling. Somewhere, somebody is pulling over in their pickup because what they have to say is so serious they can't risk saying it while driving.

Christmas trees, crabapple jelly. Geese circling the cornfield past the town park. Perhaps we are all ornaments

The Man-without-Shoes contemplates yet another winter. Snake skin lodged in the barn door. 

Men who keep things orderly vs. those of us who are too in love with beauty to oppose the entropic gala. 

Fox scat, rat tracks. Telling the future for fun in coffee grounds at the cup's bottom. Tea cups full of moonlight.

Yellow where one cannot say is it yellow or simply happy.

The late insight that happiness is mild and that so much of our grief arose in a confused homage to ecstasy.

"Ego is a red herring," he said, a casual aside in a long conversation in Cambridge but still, five words that changed my life. 

Cattail, cottontail. All the way to the town line, all the way back. 

And the door closed, and the window closed. 

The writing now, it writes itself.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Happy to Watch What Passes

What I can't say comes back to haunt me. 

Dragonflies high above the outdoor stove. I say sunflowers are not the color of the sun and Fionnghuala says I am confused about beauty.

From whence does the chorus come if not the conviction that repetition is how we remember best.

Two foxes come up the meadow at dusk, getting almost halfway to the garden before they notice me sitting quietly. Warm beer. 

The popping sound pickles make deep within the towel-wrapped crock.

Swollen ankles. I remember telling him she was Greek and he said, "Greek women are the most beautiful women," which I hadn't thought about. On the train all night, happy to watch what passes, as if there no other kind of joy.

Absent utility, is it still love? "Ego" is mostly a red herring. 

Coffee at dusk, writing poems, happy in the old way all over again.

Think carefully about what you kill. The sky, it empties itself of clouds. One anticipates bittersweet, its decorative qualities.

While in another sense, there is no interior. One admires the optimism of the man growing plum trees in New England. 

Be a good symbiote.

Swallow me if you don't mind I swallowed me first.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Patterns Nobody Asked For

Catbirds singing in the raspberry bushes. The world in a blade of grass.

The multiverse in what you insist I remember. Notes for later. "Don't come," she whispered, kneeling beneath the Perseids, giving me head for a moment before straddling me with a soft groan. This: This this.

Later we sit with iced tea and lemon watching the horses graze, trying to decide if the older one is behaving any differently on account of his eye. Rolling rice and fried eggplant in collard greens for steaming. 

Checking in, out.

What passes.

I remember visiting churches in Europe, confused about the Lord, knowing my parents would approve, and yet oddly happy in spite of it all. Heaven is processual, perspectival, possible. Fire ants.

Distant thunder. Eighteen-wheelers leaning on the brakes where Route Nine dips heading south. We lean in to each other, broken and knowing it, happy nonetheless.

Is there such a thing as silence after all?

Cheap tattoos, memories of blowjobs you wish you hadn't given, dead cows your Dad blamed you for, and now this. 

Joe Pye Weed. Patterns nobody asked for, like will it rain or will it not and when.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Under the Perseids

Jasper moves a piece of hay around in his mouth and says at last, "well, are there good reasons to postpone joy?"

Rain showers. Feed buckets.

Apples falling all night.

We laughed on the blanket, remembering making love in Vermont all those years ago, but then around midnight we did make love, quiet and intense, and after lay under the Perseids naked and happy, breathless and warm together, as if this were the point all along.

What your mother notices about you on the anniversary of your father's death. Sheep kicking the sides of the trailer, bawling and angry with what's going on. 

How the old horse - blind in one eye now - follows the other horse around the pasture. Leaves fall in a sudden wind, and briefly you are happier than you ever thought possible. 

Interior lullabies. Psychological reckonings.

Twelve disciples. Thirteen days in November. Fourteen more trips around the sun.

Faraway breezes stirring trees you can't identify without binoculars. Clouds sink through the dusk, swallowed by green hills. 

Be vulpine, secretive, adventurous. Be my baby tonight.

Torn. Pepper burgers at the neighbors, the scent making you hungrier than you can say.