Tag Archives: meditations


Seeking my place
in this new body, 
opening doors to some rooms
I’ve seen before
and some that are new to me,

a few that were locked away
from me by design or mistake, 

and some that I thought I knew well
that have been altered in some way;
small unclear changes that somehow
have broken my unearned sense
of security, my trust in my able grasp.

Here’s a cracked cup lying
where it has fallen from my numb hand.

There, my guitar with its bloody neck
that I long to play but fear to pick up.

fraught with the small dangers
of life — 

I might have a moment later
where I am comfortable here
but right now, all I can do

is keep trying the locks,
turning the handles,


your dark-blessed mouth
moving without sound

your hands involving themselves
in matters beyond their grasp


your room glowing blue by burning
all your hardened regret

your screen full of targets
your attack rationale on dagger point


owning your enemy
you’re a pain collector

owning your arguments
tangled web connector

you are top of the pops
you are king and that throne you’re on

is lit

your hair’s a rude mess
framing your face

no one thinks of you ever
till you start to bark


if you had a dollar for
every sneer you’ve delivered

you still wouldn’t be rich enough
to want to let this go

in love with your damnation
toast of the distasteful 


Unopened Books

How many own books
on which they’ve never cracked a spine,
holding on to whatever’s inside
as if these were precious eggs
made to keep their secrets.

One day they become bored
with the look of shiny unread words
on their shelves and they purge.
All those books go to the donation bin.
Someone else will take them in:

me, probably. They all come to my house
in stacks and stay in stacks near the bed,
on shelves, under the nightstand.
One day I’ll break those books open
and let their music and their words free

to slip out and slide around inside me
or hover in the air of the kitchen
while the chicken browns in the frying pan
and I stare at the refrigerator shelves
looking for something to go with it,

something not there. There is often
nothing there, or nothing fresh, nothing
appealing. This is where we are now,
I tell myself. I think of all I’ve let down.
I imagine loved ones, who if they could see me,

would frown. At least I have the words
to describe this, I tell myself. At least
I’ve had the books and the space for the books
and their words and music, learned enough from them
for this poverty dance to be seen and heard

and understood. Wasn’t that enough?
Comfort and joy aren’t meant for some of us.
Maybe I was born to be the writer
of an unopened book, one no one will read
except another like me. Hello, if you’re out there;

get out if you can.

The Man Without Qualities

Originally posted 2013.  Revised.

There is a man
who has 1500 friends
on Facebook.

Of the 1500 people
this man calls friends
he has met approximately 800 in person.

Of those 800, he’s had
more than passing conversations
with maybe 200.

Of those 200,
he’s had longer 
with perhaps 40.

Of those 40, there are perhaps 15
who are “friends” in the sense of the word
that existed prior to the year 2006.

1500 friends: 800 he’s seen,
400 he’s spoken with,
200 he’s connected with,

40 he would tell his story to,
15 who would agree that they are friends
if they were not vanishing into a cloud

with all the others, because
he no longer sees “friendship”
as a solid object:

no rock upon which
to build, no seawall against which
the ocean can pound; he is alone

as he stares at screens
where all anyone can see
is a storm on the way.

One day, the man decides to read
a three volume unfinished novel
titled “A Man Without Qualities.”

He opens the first volume,
closes it,
opens it again.

He struggles to understand
how there could be
a story three volumes long

of a man who is nothing
beyond what he is asked to be
by others.

The book, over 1500 pages long,
sits on his bedside table
unopened for long spells

as he talks to 1500 friends online
where, if there is

a Quality to “friendship,”
it has been absorbed
into a cloud.

It is being absorbed.
It shall be absorbed.

1500 friends — 800 he’s seen,
400 he’s spoken with,
200 he’s connected with,

40 he would tell this story to,
15 who would nod and agree
if they were not vanishing into a cloud.

To hold on
to those 15 friends
he will have to learn a new word

with which
to draw them forth
from the coming hurricane.

Reference: The Man Without Qualities

The Look Of An Eagle

Some people love
the look of an eagle
so much they forget

the terrible things
an eagle
could do to them

with that
noble head
and those tenacious feet. 

The eagle
will be mostly unconcerned
with those people

until they 
a threat,

and then, then
we will see
what happens:

the gripping and biting,
the tearing.
The panic. The blind support

for more of the same
as long as it’s not done
to them.


Your head
wants to know what to do next,
and you can’t tell it

You can’t even tell it
who is listening to its questions,
if it is not the head itself. Maybe
it’s one of those old distinctions
at work — heart, head, hands.

Perhaps your hands are talking to your head,
or perhaps the heart has its own voice
and that is what is bugging the head for action.

The bigger question: where are you, exactly,
in the mix? Do we need to pull
the soul into the inquiry? Or perhaps this is
a case of ego, id, superego at play;
anima or animus goading the persona 
to action while the shadow sits aside chuckling.

All this speculation gets you is panic,
is a spur of the moment step out the door
in a T-shirt and pajama pants
in mid-January. You have no idea 
who’s doing what inside your shell;
maybe, just maybe, you’re just plain nuts;

but look: a coyote
trotting down the sidewalk
on the other side of the street,
much to your mild surprise.

It does not look back at you as it passes. 
As if it should. As if in any space
where Coyote runs
you, you hero, 
you man of the hour,

could mean a thing —

you go back inside
shivering and 
brimful of silence.

Brutal Word

A brutal word
has come to me.
It seems to hold some truth;
I don’t know for certain.
I didn’t invite it,
yet it seems to be
inside me,
digging itself
a home.

I am trying
not to think of it
or say it out loud. 
To do either

would be to allow it
to claim a place in my life;
even more dire,
if it required
a definition from me
I’d be forced to
give it more meaning
than is proper
for a man like me —

who would I be
if I understood
such a word, 
its use, its context-
making energy?

When the word
begins to chafe
against my resistance
and demand that I voice it,
I have to hold my tongue
in ice tongs I keep
for this purpose — cold
teeth biting into
stubborn muscle.

I sit in a standoff
with this rude particle
of language, hand clenched
around a torture tool, refusing
to yield to the word’s claim
upon me — its demand
for time and space
in my mouth and beyond.

If I cannot win
and the word triumphs,
burning itself  
into the hard poem it seems
to be made for,

I may be a better, 
humbler person.
I may in fact
have told the truth —

but that is
not at all
what I came here for,

and not at all 

what I came to say. 

Mystery Upon Mystery

upon mystery,

how we force
some creatures
into becoming
our dearest symbols;

then when the symbols 
become extinct,
our mythology
grow stronger, as if
the death of eagles
is irrelevant to the death
of all that we have made
the eagles stand for,

as if we never cared
for eagles in the first place
beyond what we
could make of them.


Listening to
my old guitar
in better hands
than mine
causes no jealousy, 
only wonder;

it seems that every song 
ever played upon it
has been hiding in there
and all of them 
are now ringing
around this room

as if every yesterday
has found its voice again
in those hands and 
those strings.

If I let envy
stop my ears tonight, I fear
I may not be worthy
of seeking those songs
for myself tomorrow.

Every Everything

Every everything
An onion full of stench
Sometimes appetizing
No telling when or how

Every everything
A packet no one’s read
A black hole paperwork
An answer in there somewhere

Dream or how it just is
Fantasy or operating system
Direction or illusory urge
Did the land itself just heave

Every everything
A doctor with a Doberman face
A mistake on its knees for your pleasure
Doors that open on walls that move aside

Welcome to the newest of new
Every everything’s changed
Will you carry a daisy or a dagger
We will need both 

The Ghost

If you dance with The Ghost in
a miasma of brown and red
If you stumble whirl
into their pit of mad violence
If you have no love
for those fallen underfoot
If you cannot bring yourself
to lift those broken to safety
If your fear of The Ghost
stifles your love of Living
If you cannot kiss without panic
and The Ghost insists
on tonguing your twitching mouth
If you cannot smile without screaming
and The Ghost demands
both smile and scream
If you fall writhing upon hearing all this
because you know The Ghost
knowing neither name nor face
If you are not yourself The Ghost
how can you keep dancing
knowing you are dancing in blood

merely because it is easy
merely because you know this music so well

you need not even listen

Stepping Outside

Get out of bed
and step outside

in short sleeves today 

when only a few degrees
keep the rain 
from becoming snow.

Your skin asks hard questions
of you: why now, why today,
why is this necessary? 

It’s not that you are
deathly cold, but it is
raw enough out here

to drive you to full waking;
why, considering everything, 
in the midst of all things

being on fire,
did you crave
the routine misery of cold and wet?

Was it to remind you
of other

Anywhere But Here Looks Good Right Now

In this slim hole
named home

angels of discord
jostle for primacy, 
raise up fresh dreams,
conjure new hybrids, misshapen 
offspring of dreaded ancestors
and fearsome strangers
who somehow look familiar;
bring to mind names
we are afraid to utter
for fear of them turning,
smiling, nodding, 
calling us kin.

Do you find yourself
wanting to run away? Do you
long for new and open country,
unfenced, empty and clear?
Do you find yourself yearning
to move somewhere new
and become someone new?
To escape these bitter demons?

More to the point: are you certain
you aren’t one of them yourself? Are you
running from yourself? Is it possible
that you are at heart, when faced with
what you consider unspeakable,

a colonizer?

The Haunting

how are you
he said,
worming forward 
from the foot of your bed

to where he could
see you better, him being
almost blind from years

the corner dresser
in the dust where 
you’d forgotten him
that time when he fell

off the bed and rolled
under there and now
somehow he’s back
as familiar and needy as ever

but you aren’t having any
and when he gets close enough
you toss the covers
and off he flies again

into the corner
where he has lived
although you thought
he’d gone away years ago

and now you see he’s not
so what does that mean about you
that he’s back haunting you
getting this close to the new you

you’ve worked so hard to create
how are you, he said blindly
as if he couldn’t see how different
you are now

proof of that being
how quickly you fall back to sleep
and how little he shows up
in subsequent dreams

but in the morning
you move the dresser
sweep underneath it
and everything else in the room

leaving the curtains and blinds
flung wide and the windows open
for hours in an exorcism
that’s worked before and you hope

will work again because
this is what you deserve
a night free of his voice
and a home as fresh as a good wind


I came to this moment
with my head in my hands
and my hands wet from years of sobbing.

It was not a journey’s end.
It was being roused
from dumb despair to find myself

in precisely the same place
and position I’d started from,
having mistaken

long nights
of shaking and staring into darkness
for progress.  

Now I see that of course
progress is relational
and depends on how easily

people take hold 
of those around them
in the dark. With my head

in my hands and my tears
drowning me, with no one
to shake me free of it,

how could I ever
have seen
that I was not moving?

I could choose to look up
and dry my face
now that I know, of course;

I could pretend I recognize
any of these concerned faces
and reach out.

But progress is relational
and this is not progress,
I think, but a change

of set-dressing. Still
the same place, faces
changed but still

not quite visible.
Reaching out from here —
my hands so wringing wet —

who can hold onto me long enough
to help lift me? It is practically
guaranteed that I will slump again

into this. Maybe
this time I ought to agree
with the dark that I should remain

invisible to all including myself, or maybe
I should try to stand on my own, convince myself
there is a path out, a journey

that will end up somewhere else. I cannot tell.
Hope or foolhardiness
look about the same from here.

I pull my head off my shoulders
and bowl it into those before me.
They fall like pins, and this time there’s no reset. 

I’m still sitting, headless
in darkness. It’s better.
The crying, at least, has stopped,

or at least is happening
other than right here. I can’t hear it anyway,

what with my ears
on the detached head
that’s vanished into a pit

It will come back to me
changed. I’ll be alone

when I set it back onto
my shoulders and leave this place
for a real journey.

I won’t have to cry any more
or lose my place. I’ll be alone.
I’ll be gone. Loose headed

and so far gone, I’ll be on
a return track the whole time.
Around the world and back again.

I came to this new moment
with my head back in my hands
and my hands once again wet.

But it’s different this time,
or so I tell me. This time
progress can’t be relational

because I can’t see any faces
around me when I lift my own
to look at where they were. 

I remember the sound
of them crashing away from me
so well now. It’s traveled

around the world
and back again. So loud,
as if it was still yesterday.

So loud I wish
my head had never
come back to me last time.

I bury it again
where it was,
where I tell myself it belongs.