Tag Archives: meditations

Going Through The Motions

hidden at my core 
is a small, dim light
what you see is just my shell
going through the motions

everything that looks sincere
as well as
everything that looks
faked or false

everything that seems solid or fluid
everything that seems remotely static
that shows I’m settled for life
into the nest of my identity

every cuddly blink
all the sighs and furtive glances
at thighs and backsides
all the human moves through the fair

all that action and lust
it’s all just
a package of motions
I’m going through

every rage at insult real or imagined
every dangled bait to draw attack
every sneer and morseled-out hateful offering
to war-doctors and high priests of the blinding

just going through the motions
so the world won’t notice
the dead lamp within
still stale and cold

everything I do out here
is motion — is lies
masturbatory once
now tedious hideous and old

dim light within like
a salt lamp rimed with dust
I tried to shine brightly once
but failed and started this pantomime

now and then thinking
my motions have become me
and I them
I’ve begun to forget my light 

it remains within 
and continues to dim 
but now and then it flares
I cannot predict or explain when

but when it does happen
I stop moving for a short time
and try to remember which I am 
the shadows of my motions or the light 

One Last Snowfall

Revised from February, 2011. Originally titled “Inertia.”

One last snowfall.
An afterthought,
though the calendar
still insists otherwise.

I refuse to clear the walk 
knowing the temperature
will rise tomorrow. 
Is this hope? I’m calling it hope

though it has been so long,
I’m uncertain. It may instead
be surrender, white flag
waved in the white face

of more on top of so much.
Story of my life, lately;
unwillingness to negotiate
with relentless, impersonal events.

The tendency of a body at rest
is to remain at rest unless acted upon
by an outside force. I’m not at all 
rested, though. The snow outside

has held me here but I’m still 
shaking in place. If this is
hope, I trust it less than despair.
Hope suggests you get up

and clear the walk
before it will enter. Despair
tells you to sit still and wait
for nothing to enter

except whatever comes when Hope
refuses to even glance at the house
when it passes on its rounds. Despair 
is trustworthy. Hope, on the other hand?

I can’t even get up to look out the window
to see hope pass by. Can’t even be bothered
to wave. The walk is never going to melt off
today, and tomorrow might be warmer,

but it will also be too late. 

How It’s Done

slow misstepping

plodding to
the near-end

it all 
by saying nothing

this is 
how it’s done

and it is


Patreon post — appreciation video

I’ve mentioned here before that I have a Patreon where dedicated supporters contribute small amounts of money per month to help me maintain a steady income and do my work.  

Most posts and perks of the site are not available to the public, but I made a post a couple of days ago in tribute to the late Robert Bly and I thought you might like to see it. 


RIP, Robert Bly

You Are Going To Be Fine

You are going to be fine,
they tell you; you are going
to find the bridge inside you
and cross your gaps. You are
about to see stones in the stream
before you and perceive all at once
that there is a path across
with only a few scary leaps. 

You are going to be fine,
they tell you; between
the appearance of the bridge
and the revelation of the stones
your agony must stem
from a choice you made
to have it in your life
as a lesson, as pain for gain
to help you find the path.

You are going to be fine,
they tell you; they say
you are in all the right places
at once: on this side of the stream,
with the bridge and the wet stones
between you and the far bank;
already through the worst of it
and on the other bank, weakly
dancing; with your pain holding you 
tight as you make the journey
no matter which way you choose.

You are going to be fine,
they tell you. You fall down
writhing on the cold floor
of your bathroom. That’s it,
they say. Dance it out. You roll
over on your back and stare 
at the peeling ceiling. That’s 
the way of this, they say. 
That’s the joy of the struggle.
You freeze there and can’t move.
That’s it, they say. You are
going to be fine. You hold on to that,
they say. No pain without gain,
they say, as you try not to cry.

A Being In A High Wind

— for Robert Bly

On the side
of a Maine mountain

while walking toward
a bare stone summit

a high wind storms up
out of nowhere.

I know how to walk
against this sort of nuisance

when I’m on level ground, 
but this feels 

different. Moss underfoot,
and if I slip I may fall — 

non-fatally, but far enough
to be in pain, to perhaps need

assistance or even rescue
afterward. But I’m so close

to the highest point I’ve ever
reached on my own — this

high wind out of nowhere,
it’s nothing. If I fall, I might fall

or I might fly, I might rise
even farther. If I call out

for aid upon falling?
Whatever being might answer

might choose me to let me fall,
or might elevate me — whoever

or whatever makes the choice,
I should be grateful 

that I was here
upon this mountain

for as long as it took 
to be chosen. 

To Desire

to desire is to have
a hand full of 

wisps slipping 
fingers as they

disspate. to desire
is to be ready
to close 

a hand upon
what may never be
seized although

that smoke seems
thick enough to
be held. to desire

is to understand 
nothing but 
a need to hold smoke

as it rises from
fire around your feet.
hold it like a staff.

hold it like a handle
for rake or shovel.
better to desire than

to hold what you desire.
to hold is to require
action once it’s in your hand.

to desire is 
to play with
smoke as if it were

more than 
ungraspable scent
and obscured vision, 

is to ignore
how fiercely 
you are burning.

Can’t Stop

Every animal in the house 
asleep except for me.

Maybe there’s a mouse at work 
somewhere in the walls,

but not to my ears.
It’s quiet enough that all I hear

is the warm air rising from the grates
and a plane headed for Boston,

or from Boston, forty miles
east of here. Soon there will be

the sound of the early train
passing the bottom of the hill;

traffic on the highway ramp
will pick up and after that

the apartments above me
will come alive and telegraph

busy mornings through
their floors to my ceilings.

We call this place a city
but unlike some others,

it definitely sleeps.
The animals here

take their need for
unconsciousness seriously,

as do I and I sit here acutely aware
of my own desire to fall away

and forget where I am 
for a few hours, yet here I am

watching the cats sleep
and thinking of my lover

asleep in the next room
while I pursue yesterday

all through the night
and into today,

hoping to catch it and shake it
until, somehow, it changes.


You stood by his bedside
the day you left, offering
blessings for the life
he would live without you.

He lay there and sobbed
and reached out for you to 
stay and talk and stay and love
and stay, just stay.

You walked off in a cloud 
of blessings as if you’d sprayed
the room for bugs or to leave
some floral camouflage.

Understand that your blessings
by themselves healed nothing of wounds
the boy did not even see
until he became an old man

and lay back in a different bed
understanding at last how the damage
inflicted back then was neither your fault
nor his own, but that regardless 

the scent of it lingered
in every bedroom he’d been in since.
The stinging in his scars
was the burned-in message

that everyone leaves, eventually;
it might as well be him leaving, even
if it’s not today, even if he is alone
at the time, even if the room

is stifling with blessings 
and protection and love.
Nothing is forever,
his wounds have said at every dawn

since you walked away, applying
a serum as protective
as any blessed potion, 
if not as sweet.

Things Broken

Things broken
from long fruitful effort,
too shattered to be repaired,
shout more loudly of triumph
than any fanfare ever could:

a desiccated tendril of
a wild grape vine clinging to
a wooden fence after
the vine has died and fallen away;

an egg case 
for some insect or
spider, empty
on the back porch;

a pair of once-strong boots,
soles worn through, peeking 
at sunrise from where
they were placed neatly
inside a trash can on trash day,
as if ready to be worn again at once.

Sixty One

Look, friends:
I’ll be dead
sooner, not later.
Will never make it to
one hundred twenty two; 
stop calling this
“middle age.”

These are 
gateway days, friends;
I’m at peace, why aren’t
you? I am upright under
a lovely arch twined
with vines and blooms.

When I look back into the 
long valley I’ve come from
I see a view I can
adore; when I look up
to the Divide above me
what I see is glorious with 
the rays of the same sunrise
I came from, as it barely feels
like it’s been a day
since I was born. I still feel 
new, but know I’m not; friends,
is that not perfection?

One For The Brothers

Here’s one for the brothers 

in drink and sports fandom
whose cars have kissed telephone poles
more than once after hours

One for the boys

who drive along old roads
daydreaming of their well deserved
post high school comebacks 

One for the men

who swerved into careers
after head-on collisions with a payback
for mistakes and accidents 

Another for the boys

who dance awkwardly around
how good it felt to hug and slap asses
after the win in the Thanksgiving game

Another for the men

who say not a word about all of this
who shrug it off then sink
into stained recliners or basement shops

One more for these brothers

who may not even understand
that what hurts them
is demanded of them

from the backseat wherever they go
on whatever roads
they end up driving

The Dirty Afterplate

This is
a freshly washed dish
in a drainer

Later today
it will be full
of food and then

will be washed again
The cycle will repeat
until the dish breaks

sometime in the future
when my hand loses its grip
through some illness or injury

I know this because of
how often it has happened
How often something

has been destroyed
because I lost my grip
through injury or illness

or inattention
to detail or how much care
I should have been offering

but I was hungry
Couldn’t wait so I grabbed
for a plate and then

Rarely I was cut and I bled

all over the clean dishes
I’d rinse them and
do it again

This is a freshly washed plate
in a drainer and
oh my appetites are

so wild for it that I must consider
that it might be the dirty
afterplate I want most


In the decayed eyes
of the recently dead

(who likely hit my window
when I was not home and fell
to the mulch below and lay there
unnoticed until
I went out to replenish
the swift-emptying feeders
tha brought it here)

is everything that is coming:
vision sinking into the bones
that supported it
that will disappear
in their own time and 
feed whatever is next

I felt deep sorrow
and offered my apology
for making it so easy
to indulge hungers that
in the end it led to
your unexpected death

then I
refilled the feeders


I cannot believe this isn’t on the blog. From 198 —?

I hear his Chrysler
crunching up the driveway and I toss
my cigarette into the gravel, since we are
supposed to be quitting.

As we load the scatterguns
into the truck we both lie
about the day before,
boasting about not smoking,

saying we don’t even miss nicotine.

 All morning long we lie in the blind,
blasting and rejoicing
when we kill. When the hunt is over
we go home

and my girls come running out to meet us,
calling first his name and then mine,
hanging off of our knees as we
carry the quarry to the front porch.

We sit for two hours with Martha and Emily
while he plays my guitar, I think,
better than I ever will. Once the girls
have run off we have more coffee and he says to me:

 ‘So is it all you thought it would be, now that you’ve settled down?’

And I say
nothing, until I can come up with
some half-obvious ghost of a facsimile of
some half-obvious half-truth, and then I say:

 ‘Sure. Best thing I ever did. I feel right about it.’

We sit for another half hour,
watching each other not smoking,
while the morning’s blood is drying and old habits
crust over the distance I half-believe lies between us.

 We keep silent, thinking of the children.