Tag Archives: meditations

Berry Father

The first thing I see this morning:
photo of a graveyard.

Two stones stand out
more clearly than the others. On one,

the word “Berry.”
On the other, “Father.” I tell myself

it’s a portent of how
the day will go, that this is how

today is going to be:
random messages, written in stone,

any meaning to be drawn forth
by the viewer who right now

is seeing one sweet word,
one less so, and nodding his head.


If You Qualify

you stand behind the yellow line
and wait for your number to be called.
they’re waiting on number 403 now,
you are holding number 415,
it shouldn’t be long, they tell you.

half a life later you are still waiting but at least it’s
not your life. you saw them carrying off
the still-breathing form of 407 and he
looked about half your age. what did they do to him,
you wonder out loud. nothing, says 414,

not even looking up or turning around
before speaking. if you qualify, it takes less time
than waiting for it out there in the world
where it’s random. 408, someone calls.
everything moves up. you shuffle ahead. this is fine.


Edgar Lilith Rosebush

Edgar was a rosebush.
Lilith was a rosebush.
They were the same rosebush.

They answered
to different names
depending on who invoked them.

They ran a little wild and
took up more than their planned space.
The huge blooms more than compensated.

After hours Edgar Lilith did try to understand
who was truly who and why it was so
but in the end they gave up

when their scent shut all that down.
They’d heard there was a quote
about names and roses in some book

but they were proof enough. Didn’t
need Shakespeare or anyone else
to make them love their names and self.

Who was Shakespeare, anyway,
but a bunch of names over time
and just one the world had settled on?

They were Edgar Lilith. Whatever’s
in a name, they were as settled on it
as the people who called upon them

and their blooms grew huge and fragrant
as they grew as large and wild
as their doubled name would allow.




The Body And The Souls

It’s amateur hour here
in the body.

Everyone living within
is confused

about what
should happen next.

All running into
one another.

All dancing mad
tarantella impressions.

Some like to say
the body’s just a vehicle

the soul uses to get around —
no. It’s all one being, though my soul

is a multiple. No binary for me.
The body and the interior world

are one crowd in chaos.
We’ll get by, more or less;

more likely less of course
considering the bruising going on.

But I’m there,
crowd that I am,

body
that is also all souls.

I’ll be there,
joy as a plural, pain

as a plural, saturated
with the plural nature

of the pieces of deity
we hold within.


Just An Ape

Just another aging ape in a restaurant
dining on some descended
dinosaur — chicken, maybe.

That’s what I appear to be
to others. Little do they know
who I really am –I can’t

tell them, of course. That would be
unrectifiable. It’s how I get by,
you see — allowing others

to define me by mistake and then
living up to the wrong billing.
All I’ve ever done, in fact,

has flowed from the mistakes
of others. My one true path has been
threaded through falsehood and

this ape, this unevolved fat boy
chewing with his mouth closed
in spite of his wanton instincts,

is satisfied. The chicken is good.
The people who think I’m good
are good with me. What I am to myself

is ridiculous and unimportant
to them. Inside though? Inside
the well fed body, the glittering

at my core would blind them
if they could see. They never will.
Let them think me small and ashamed,

or grandiose and self-important.
Everyone’s got it right as long
as they let me be.


Why We’re Doomed

Take a moment to think
of all the sad sick children of our parents
who should not have been parents.

Think of all the children whose parents
never learned a thing about how to do it right
because no one gave a second thought

to how the world was failing, to how
they had failed it themselves and how
they were passing it all down to their kids.

You see them every day walking in parks
and seeing nothing, sitting in bars, lying together
on joyless, broken beds.

A nation of slipped discs —
a full measure of people with
untenable spines for the battle ahead,

nearly bent double from the pain
of trying to just survive. They aren’t going
to revolt or even protest. They can’t see

what’s right in front of them,
for the pain of standing upright
keeps them blind. If it takes

a village to raise a child,
where is theirs? You are a fool
to believe in any revolution

rising from people whose only model
for society is what they can see
when the only society they can see is an anthill.


The Church Of The Hairy Woodpecker

I mention my pain out loud and
to facilitate my healing, kind folk
point me toward a hymnal for the Natural Congregation

of the Church of the Hairy Woodpecker.
Pick it up, they urge me. Go into the woods
and sing along, or better still, just listen.

I do and it’s certainly a lovely rhythm,
but not meant for me. I’ve tried
and the peace of nature’s not my language,

not in my range; I cannot fake it well enough
for the congregation gathered there
not to know and not to stare.

Instead I’ll sit here and keep the windows open
and think about what it would be like
to be rid of the kind folk, to just leave

the windows open and let the Church
say what it will about the one who won’t come
to the service. He’s got his own

God, or hymnal, they might say. If they’re right,
I’ll sit in waiting for that for the rest of my life;
the windows are open. Let it come, and let it be soon.




Bad Dog Blues

You make a damaged statement
and every last friend walks out of your home
while you sputter your mystified apologies.

Afterward, in bed, you lie awake just long enough
to be satisfied that you didn’t retire too early;
you sleep well for a change.

Isn’t it magnificent to be completely alone
and allowed to be the freakish, broken dog
you always knew you were? This is what

your family made you for, this angelic feeling
that you would be perpetually misunderstood:
whatever would come out of your mouth,

no matter when, no matter who was around,
even them, you would say the wrong thing.
You get up, offer a whimper, a bark. It’s all

annoying. It’s all the wrong language
for those around you. Hello, you say,
but it comes out good bye. I love you,

you say, but it spills out like a popped
blister soaking the earth and it’s too late
to shut up, to stop; no one’s listening

to what they call your bullshit
You might as well eat acid, a gun barrel,
a Nazi talking point, a dagger cookie,

and a baby one right after the other. It doesn’t matter:
you’re a bad dog. They don’t want you
anywhere other than on the killing table now.


Quartz Point

This is
a quartz point
stolen from where
it grew. Now it rests on
a folding table
called “altar”
in the home of a
colonizer who keeps it
lit with a full spectrum light
all hours of the day,
all the days of the year,

and if you listen you can hear
a sharp growl like that of a black dog
from the corner of the room
where it languishes.

Nothing should surprise you
about this as it is not
unusual for a colonizer
to exercise what they call
“stewardship”
in whatever way they deem best,
regardless of listening to
the earth itself which speaks
in tongues they can’t fathom
even exist.

The language
of a stolen stone comes less
from the tongue
than from the lung and throat,
for instance, and when
a colonizer hears it

they assume it is their own
voice within, depression
they call it, the black dog
they call it; and it will persist
as long as they hold on to
what they’ve stolen.

Is it not lovely, they say,
touching the quartz point
under the full-spectrum light
they bought for the purpose.
It glows under this, they say, as it would
under the sun. Exactly so, in fact,

and they look around for the source
that will explain
why their black dog is growling
like a stab within.


An Actor Prepares

Today I shall begin anew.
I will tell myself
I was born
to play this role.

Even before I get up I will lie here and pretend
I have changed overnight
into someone who gets the right things done
at the right time. I will lie in bed and tell myself

that if I do it right I will get to do this again tomorrow,
and again on the day after that. I will erase
previous days from my track record —
all of them, if possible. I will lie there and decide

that even if I wipe the record antiseptic-clean
I will keep my name the same so those
who have disapproved of me can change their minds
and praise me for the transformation.

All this joy to come from just lying in bed
and running new lines. I swear won’t think today
about yesterday and how I blew it. How I have
blown it over and over

by lying in bed too long and thinking about
yesterdays, the permanent record
of yesterdays strung into a necklace of lead.
I will lie here and think of anything other than dead weight.


Letting Go

To maintain isolation in this crowd
of friends, good people
gathered in a deep backyard
around food and smoke and
hours of catching up
after a plague year, seems
such a ridiculous pose.

To imagine that
a tragic face and story
should be your sole currency
among such friends would be a sin
if sin is real; instead
call it a willed stance, a facade —

which is not to say that
your story is not tragic and
your face does not bear the marks
of it, but to say that every face here
bears marks and yet somehow
there are still loud birds unseen
in the trees and lazy dogs and cats
and laughter all around.
You can be gloomy anytime.

Let go for one afternoon
and see a promise here that
after hard seasons
there will be softer days, and
even if you never attend
another, someone in the future
will recall this night
and your presence here
and be comforted by it.



The Tale Of The Ithaca Shotgun

My father once owned
an Ithaca shotgun
he got from a kid at his job
who was going to Vietnam
and couldn’t take it with him

12 gauge with a monster kick
that knocked my six year old ass
right down the one time I shot it
Weird looking gun with a lever
that broke it open
at the barrel for loading
Good for birds and pests
and not much else

No idea when or where he sold it
or gave it away or turned it in
but now and then
I think about its oaken stock
and wonder about
how the kick would feel to me
now that I’m grown

Last night I dreamed I was living
in a condo somewhere not here
and a boy with bright eyes
knocked on my door
and asked for his gun back
I said didn’t have it
and told him the name
of the town where I grew up
and if was looking for his gun
he should knock on their doors
He nodded and turned away
to walk there in his combat boots
to go ask people he’d never seen
for a gun long ago lost

I saw him join
all the rest of the ghost boys
from all the rest of history
thronging the streets
asking strangers for their guns
because they knew that if only
they could fire them one more time
they’d remain standing up after the kick
this time they wouldn’t fall down

My shoulder aches for them
Aches for the gun my father got rid of
Aches for wanting to handle correctly
what I could not when I was young

Just another ghost boy
citizen of a dead nation
a whole nation of us

imagining a gun
that we could master this time
to feel masterful
and grown



Nothing To Pour

I can see the shape
of what I must say,
what I long to say,
but not how to fill it in.

The container is perfectly
made, seamless and clear;
there’s nothing inside.

In my conception, once I fill it
anyone reading it will understand it
at once, regardless of
their literacy, their language.

The moment they lift it
from the page and take it in,
they’ll be so moved…

yet somehow for too long
I have had
nothing to pour.


Something Something

I should be content
to look at a mountain
for what it is
and not as a comment on my life.”― David Ignatow

Outside something something
nature. Creature, plant,
rock, shadow on ground.

Inside something something
human emotion, insight. Illumination.
Metaphor as deep as depth.

Between something something
and something something a wall
unbreachable. Out there we call

“the world.” In here we call “soul” or
something. We call poems “keys.”
We try to make world into soul

with a key to a door we think we see
in the wall. Something, something;
something about the lock being broken

and something about trying to make things
work for us that are not our concern
while something laughs behind our backs.

That’s not door. That’s still wall.
That’s not a soul and maybe there’s no
world. This is a poem, or something, it seems;

a key that unlocks Nothing.


Eldercare

Your parents are going away,
diminished ghosts drifting off.
Whatever shall you do?

They are feeble, spiteful clouds
now, raining perpetually on everything.
You dry and fold their clothes

and fret to yourself about how
you will ever empty the house
while they thunder, cast bolts, start fires.

In other words, you keep living as you always have,
doing all the hard work you think is necessary
to hold them, like smoke, in your hands.

Nothing has changed. Look down at those palms,
those naked palms. All that’s there is a scent
you can’t follow to learn where they are going.