Tag Archives: meditations

Where Is The Center?

Where is the center?

There were solid dreams there
once. Once it held stone and tree;
sheltered fox, eagle, and all the hope
of the ocean. Once, it was
the paradox of sky above us
with its origin in our depths.

Then, we sold it cheap
for false peace.
Handed it off for promises 
of distant wealth. 

In its place, 
a deep hole light can’t crack. 
A cavern that once held
a molten core
now glimmers
with rime ice.

When the wind whistles
across the mouth of that pit?
What a thin dirge.

We pass through,
singing along.

When we catch 
each others’ eyes,
it’s all we can do
to stifle our screams.


Cold Guitar

She’s on your mind

as you struggle
into the club

with your gear,
coming in from cold

that will bust your guitar’s finish
wide open into something like

a road map if the case
is opened too soon.

There you sit with a beer
staring at the case,

thinking of songs for her
you haven’t written

that you promised yourself
you’d write, and now

would be the perfect time for it
if only it would warm up.

Then again, there’s tomorrow
to consider, and spring eventually,

and the right song takes time
and heat and more time; and 

the thought of her is receding now,
the previous urgency diminishing

even as the time comes
to pull the guitar gingerly out

and play your songs for strangers,
songs you wrote for her

in warmer days. Songs
you are selling, if you can,

to anyone who will listen.


Morning, November 2019

A corrosion of our shared faith
in how sunrise should feel
to a night chilled face.

A wasting disease
of our individual hopes: failing, wilting,
drained of heat and blood.

An injury to the bones.
An insult to the stones
below our feet. A consummation

of historical tangles
of wrong paths and missteps
and mythic levels of stubborn denial

leashed to pure and wholesome
Evil. It puts words
into our mouths no one

fully understands,
but we speak them
anyway. In this ending,

all words trend toward
inscrutability. Confused,
sunrise stumbles on without us.


Rope, Knot, God, Ground

When you get to
the end of your rope,
tie a knot and hold on. 

By which is meant,
you’ve got to let it go
if you are going to tie it.

Which means of course
you’ve got to let go
and let God.

Which means
you have to have faith that the same God
who created and established gravity 

will suspend it just for you 
this one time just so you can tie that knot
and hold on.

Which means
that if it really pleased God,

you could just float there 

without needing the rope 
or the knot
in the first place.

That God must want you
to die of absurdity, must be
a capricious entity;

you are
a joke
to them.

Why don’t you just let go, 
forego the knot,
see what happens?

Maybe there’s a God,
maybe there’s no God.

Maybe you’ll float

or maybe you’ll fall;
maybe the ground’s
not far at all.

Look at the end of the rope up there,
growing smaller and smaller
as you descend.

Bye, bye, rope. Bye bye, knot.
Bye bye, God of caprice
and mutable law.

Something’s rising
toward you
from below.

Hello, unknown landing,
soft or hard. Hello, 
place where cliches end.

No rope, no knot.
Solid ground, 
all the solid ground you need. 


No Light

Trying to enjoy the odd last light
of the odd last days of our empire.

Trying to see past the dark beyond
into the expected tomorrow morning

exactly as I’ve waited for it my entire life.
Dreading my entire life. Praying against it

for my whole life, though it kept on coming up
and pouring through. I did what I was told

and tried to love it, to find the beauty in it.
Here I am today where the light is shade-odd

and I’m trying to love it
and the beauty as I’m told to

and all I can think of is 
light ending to bring me the night

and let it be that I need not
wait again to leave that dark

for a beauty
I can’t find at all anymore.

 


On All Fours As Predicted

as has been predicted
we are down on all fours
eating sand — smooth

pink, hard graveled, 
laden with plastic and glass,
oil-caked: whatever we find

we swallow because we must
eat or die. we are down on all fours
drinking sewage or other foulness

because all we have left is foulness.
drown in scent and hard swallow.
this is how we see ourselves now.

as has been predicted on all fours,
understanding slightly more
of what that’s like. there were so many

who told us it would come to this
and now we semi-get it but we still think
we will rise up in a bit and things

will return to normal. we only semi-get it
as was predicted. this is normal now.
we will have to be down a long time,

longer than this, if we are ever to rise.
those who’ve lived here on all fours longer
stretch and prepare. as was predicted.

as their time down is done. if there will be
a rising at all they are ready. we remain
on all fours though they will lift us.

if we let them.
if we can vomit that poison.
if we take note of what has been predicted.


I Have No Metal

I have no metal.
I have no funk.
Lost my folk, my jazz,
almighty punk.

I sat my guitar back
in its case.
Laid the strap 
over its dimmed face.

Easy now. The down.
The slide. 
Rest the music.
Close the eyes.

I know one song
from start to end
and here it is.
I recommend

you play it slow
and soft to start.
Crescendo till
it breaks a heart.

Need not be yours,
need not be mine.
Just count it off
just one more time.

I have no metal
and crashed my punk.
My funk and jazz
have run to junk.

I have no song
to offer here.
Close the door.
Disappear.


You Done Good

After all
had ended,
the only thing 
he lacked was
hearing

“you done good”

from the one person
he’d never heard it from;

when it was clear
that it would remain
forever unvoiced,
the air filled with ash

and ever after
he would choke
on any accolade
received.


Whatever Happens Now

It won’t happen, my fantasy
of finding my way from here
to a perfect off-grid palace
in a town of peace and care
for all who come there.

It won’t happen, my hope
of song as everyday speech,
music as deeper connection
of all who join in song, mutual
current running among all.

It won’t happen, my dream
of somehow all of us
pulling out of this tailspin
and soaring, swooping over
open land with joy and freedom.

Whatever happens now
instead of all this, I must trust
that a person exists who holds onto
what I cannot. Someone with stronger
dreams, less ready to fail.


The Mine

Could you tell the difference between
a suicide note and a poem 
in enough time to intervene?

Should you even intervene
with a poet on the verge?
Should you stop assuming metaphor,

instead presume the imminence
of poison or pistol? When a poet
offers pain or joy,

who knows
what’s being served?
Is it live or is it

memory, descriptive
or prescriptive, hot or cold,
raw or cooked or even

not a poem at all — 
not that it matters once
you’ve gotten your fill.

Have you gotten
your fill? The poet
is not supposed to care

as long as they’re empty
when they’re done.
As long as they have been

of some use. Or so
they’ve been told, over and over:
the unacknowledged legislators,

the news others die for, etc., 
etc. To be of some use,
even as they are consumed,

is all they should expect.
You read it, you dig it, you mine it;
they write it, it buries them, they die.


A Ghost Talking

1.
A ghost walking, hands clasping daggers on a rain-dimmed afternoon.
Too much on my mind; too little mind with which to hold it up.
I’m not a man anymore as much as I am something glimpsed and incorrectly identified.
A blur in the foreground of an old photograph. The viewers ask, in near-perfect unison:
Who is that rushing by, now almost out of frame?

2.
A ghost walking, carrying captured rainwater in two buckets: galvanized metal squeaking as they swing and slop over.
A vinyl album playing on a modern turntable in a second floor room, music in the wet air.
I don’t know this song but that is unquestionably Coleman Hawkins’ tone singing against the rest of the world’s noise.
A wide chorus hovering over the sidewalk five feet up, at near ear-level. Listeners in the vicinity ask:
is there a break in time that makes this so, and who is that ghost, whose water does it carry?

3.
A ghost who glides or floats cannot be described as a walking ghost according to strictest traditional guidelines.
If there is a ghost carrying water, holding knives, or simply floating empty, that’s something to be understood differently.
You ask: what am I not seeing, what am I seeing and not understanding, what am I missing about you?
I say only that I truly don’t know. If I am a ghost, I’m not a restless, disembodied entity as much as something transparent
I cannot fully explain. You see through me, past the love I encompass, past the life I could offer to you.


All I’ve Been Given

All I’ve been given
and insist that I’ve lost
is somewhere,
not in my pocket or closet
but I have it all, I’m sure.

It’s a process of 
elimination — none of it 
is anywhere I’d expect it to be,
nowhere obvious or easy to access,
so it must be in the dirty recesses

of a chamber or box
I don’t like to acknowledge.
Even the shiny things,
things I should be proud to have
and display, are down there,

inside that, hidden 
from me and all others;
whatever I am is in there
for good or bad, and here I am
unwilling to dig and dirty my nails

for everyone to see 
how much work it is 
to tell all my truth.
I protect us all by failing
myself, or so I like to claim.


Wounds

A small, angry wound: short slit
on the side of my left thumb
from a clumsy test of the new edge
of an old Swiss Army knife.
It didn’t bleed at all
but somehow still hurts:
no more damage 
than a paper cut
but it’s hot and bothered
and more than bothersome.
The type of injury
you leave alone
and pretend it will heal
in short order

even though nothing on me
heals in short order anymore;
I ought to have known
this was going to happen,
having long been aware 
of how fragile the sugars
in my blood have rendered me
in late middle age. Knee
that will not stabilize;
hands that cannot grip
or sense; feet which imagine
against all other evidence
that they are always on fire,
and eyes that are beginning
to dim and twitch 
from dawn to dark.

I wish there was more of value
to say here: a deep lesson about mortality
or endurance, a metaphor for 
the state of the world, an insight
to lay my fears to rest;
all I’ve got is an inflamed thumb
and a list of chronic infractions against
my romantic fantasy
of having ever been
truly healthy and intact,
and I’m tired of looking at them.

Instead, I figure out a way
to type around them. I figure out a way
to walk while burning. I figure out
how the way things feel to me now
when I touch them with these new hands,
and I try to decide how I’ll manage
when I find myself, at some point,
in terminal dark.


Waiting For It To Finish

Sitting quietly
in my usual spot
waiting for coffee 
to finish brewing.

This is today,
just like yesterday.

I’m soft, I guess.
Soft and broken 
though broken and soft 
don’t feel compatible.
Torn, then.  Soft and 
shredded, all tore up.

I’m waiting 
for coffee to finish.

It’s just like yesterday
today. Right down 
to darkness, wind, rain,
what you might call 
desperation, what I call

today. Today is
hard and broken.
I’m soft and perforated.
It’s like yesterday,
coffee taking forever
to finish

brewing. 

I’m sitting in the usual spot
longing for it to finish.
Soft and broken in a soft way,
longing for a finish.
I wait for the finish but I’m not going
until I have my coffee. Today
is just like yesterday: broken.
Waiting softly torn for a finish.
It makes itself

known from the next room —

a gurgling. A soft 
sound, a strangulation
in progress, almost ready; I’m

waiting for today
as if it were yesterday.


Did Not

did or did not,
died or was killed,
suicide or homicide,

choose your focus:
another long day of lies
in a string of long days
or

one short night
you think is a

occasion for a burst
of truth

in the daily news
that feels like
just a
mystery

if it matters to you
or not, if you are sure
or not, if you have proof
or believe proof or not:

what are you going to do
except laugh at it or cry out
against it or make it into 
some middling joke to share
with the like minded

and those who did it
or did not

do indeed do
right out in the open

things you ought to
stop laughing at

and though mockery is all you have
or think you have 
or bother to use 

maybe

stop laughing 
pick a target
and do?