Tag Archives: meditations

Good As It Gets

as good as it gets

you living warm
and yeasty fresh inside 
a big new loaf
of soft white bread

crust on that bread
light brown almost like
a much-laundered 
faded bloodstain
on cotton 

sitting in
your ancestral backyard
the sheets smelling sweet
heirloom sheets hung on 
old rope lines
grandad’s sheets
you grew up with

washed as clean
as they can get

you cut a slice of that 
good fresh bread
slice right through
the crust

lay
mayo
on thick

as far as you know
this is as good as it gets


In Fire There Is Light and Truth

I will say
before anyone else does
that I know
I’m a bad god. Not
evil, not malicious,
not even The Adversary.
I’m just nearly
incompetent.

Can’t do
most of what
I’m called on to do,
even what’s in
the actual job description,
which you would no doubt
be confused to read.
I can’t let you see it. 
You’d think at least there
I’d be omnipotent
but no. No god is,
I’ve asked around.
For instance none of us
can beat a full house
with a pair of sevens,
but I digress.

I digress
all the time which is
part of the problem. 
People want
a directed deity,
one with focus,
with clarity. 
In fact they really
want one, the One.
I’m not like that.
Nothing is. No One
can do all that is asked
of Them.

I’m especially
bad at it. I fumble through,
drop as much
as I carry. You call on me
and I am startled, 
every time. Incompetent
at nearly everything I’m 
asked to do but oh
my darlings,

if you could see me run
ahead of a wildfire’s
leading edge singing
the song I was made to sing
you’d fall down and know
what I was made for —
and then I’d take you
and you’d call my name.

It’s one thing I’m good at,
one thing. I’d pick you up
from the ashes and carry you
home. Just know that 
I drop as much
as I carry. 


Ghosts Of The Ancient Lake

At the dried up lake bed
from the end of prehistory

you stand looking across the flat.
You can’t believe what you see

is former as it feels like an overflow
of now. Look at that, you say

to a companion no one else can see.
That’s where we are headed, 

into a flood of memory
that neither dries up nor cries out. 

That is right, the Other says. 
No one but us can see it, of course.

They call us mad for thinking
we can swim across. We won’t be,

of course; how could we?
How we get to the other side

isn’t for us to choose but we  
must get there. 

We drift into the space
hoping not to drown.

We drift out over the ghosts
who fill the ancient lake.

On the other side, a small banner:
“Here Is The Start Of History.”

We can renew and refresh there,
you say. Do it right this time.

That’s what they all say,
says the Other. 


How Broken Can One Heart Be

Long-ago mapped
fault lines diminish, 
become invisible
from space, vanish
from the surface
of the earth
in the aftermath
of your sundering.
Your chest
opens from within,
spews lava wind;
the forest tumbles
outside the blasted doors.
Fire becomes you
as well as a suit of armor
fits an obsolete warrior —
you are an obsolete warrior.
Unfit for battle.
Reckless, easily 
withered, you
will dissolve
to ash before you can
remove your armor
and run.


Beauty And Entropy

Beauty
on the interstates
searching

comes to an off ramp
Imagines that this will be
the last stop

as in that old TV series
where the main character
is always hoping for the leap home

Beauty
always gets back on the highway
after a night or two

Remains the same
Not a leap as much as a trudge
Next ramp like this one

It’s a grind
Everyday physics suggests
entropy is setting in


Big Stan

Listening to space
for secret messages, David
simply is, and that’s enough. 

Asking a tree
for directions home, Sheila
simply listens. This is plenty.

Big Stan is an ear and 
an eye who points out
the other two are “nuts”

when he leans into your car
to tell you you’re alright,
not like those two.

You give everyone
a dollar. Everyone
gets a dollar. It won’t help

but it’s something. God Bless,
they tell you. God Bless.
Which god, you wonder — 

the one in space, the one
hiding under the bark
of the tree? Or maybe

Big Stan’s a god,
or the God, or
there’s no gods at all.

That seems like bullshit.
Even if they are nuts,
all of them, something’s

talking to them
from somewhere else.
We are all nuts,

Big Stan. David’s
disdainful of the tree
Sheila talks to, and Sheils

has been to space
and knows David’s 
hearing nothing.

I give everyone
a dollar. I do what I can.
David’s closest to the truth.

Big Stan is only half right,
and I wish I knew how
to get the tree to tell Sheila

how to go home.


Goober

I used to be
such a goober
when it came to
how I acted around
someone I was drawn to
(although it was I gather at least
somewhat endearing to most except when 
it became clear that I did not understand
how far off I was in my estimate
of the level of interest the other person had
in my attentions) — regardless of the reason
for my interest — hero worship, attraction, 
a desire to learn,  general admiration seizing hold —
I used to be such a goober, stumbling through
conversations, asking all the wrong questions 
in even more wrong ways — touching subjects
that should have been left untouched, oddly breaching
spaces personal, professional, social, cultural, even now and then
spiritual — I used to be such a goober, addicted to the excitement
of finding someone who sparked me until after years  of corrections
and shaming I became silent before the mystery of such attractions
and now, now I’m not; I have become calmer, stiller, socially acceptable,
and far more numb within. 


Ghost Of Sweetness

Waking in darkness
to do…what?

Walk around the house
thinking daytime’s near?

Pretend this
was intentional

and go sit on the couch
in the living room

where all the light comes
from electronics

and think about yesterday,
all you did and didn’t do.

Daylight is a long way off,
it seems.

Mark this as night, still,
not early morning.

Rectification
for what was badly done

and what was undone
will have to wait until sunrise;

any wisdom that comes 
from the struggle

needs time to be born,
and this is not that time.

To sleep now, with a spoonful
of honey on your tongue.

Morning will offer
a ghost of that sweetness.

As always, you should begin again then:
lay the ghost to rest, grant it 

passage from dark to light
in tandem with your own.


A Purr And A Hiss

The big cat in the window
with a little bowl of catnip
poured from the bottle that sits
next to the bottle of Jameson’s.

In the next room the big man
sits next to an emptied glass.
He’s used to big Scotch whisky.
Irish whiskey barely touches him.

The big cat comes in, sits down,
stares at the big man. “You looking
for more?” he asks her. She walks away.
He knows she’s not. She knows when to stop

but it gives him the excuse he needs
to go back to the kitchen and pour
something into his, something into hers.
“Don’t mind if I do.” The big cat is gone,

probably to the bed.
He should do the same.
But now, a second glass
as the first barely touched him

and he wants to be touched.
“Here’s hoping,” he says.
It comes out somewhere
between a purr and a hiss.


Inconsequentials

Like a bite of lettuce 
drenched in oil
on a salad plate
that’s about to be taken away,
or an irregular corner torn
from some unknown paper
blowing through the yard
fast enough
you can’t catch it so
you don’t bother
to try. Not to mention
those people
on your supermarket corner
for whom you feel
twinges of regret
that it’s so difficult
to rescue or clean up
after them. Must have had
a purpose once. Must have
been good. Or at the least
shouldn’t have been left behind
to litter the place.


Yellow Apple Skins

Long night recalled
only in fragments.

Yellow apple skins glimpsed
in a refrigerator drawer.

A voice as clear
as cirrus clouds in sunset.

A remnant lust
fading into regret. 

What needs to be
retold for a different world.

Instructions on
how to be old. 

Sickness and health
interchangeable. 

Hard words: love,
damage, porcelain. 

The same old “used to be” 
shifting: is memory

credible, imagination
no more than a broken cup?

The pattern on the tablecloth.
The tablecloth on the floor

and whose eyes are those
watching from the pantry?

Fatigue in the form
of question marks.

I had better get home
before answering any of this.

Want to lie down
silently and let doubt

slide away like a kid giggling
in a downward mountain stream,

all the way into an icy pool
then coming up for air. 

A yellow apple for breakfast.
Afterward, cleaning up

the broken cup. Afterward,
memory kissing me back

to just after childhood
and the eyes of an early lover. 


Trigonometry

You thought your life
was going to be deep,

imagined you’d have thoughts
as large as whales
moving sine-cosine through you
all night long, all day long,
from wake to sleep and after death.

You thought that at this age
bills would pay themselves, 

imagined you’d be soaring now
far above dirty and mundane,
that such small things would be beyond you
as you plunged and rose and plunged again
upon thermals, updrafts; flying upon the fullness
of cycles, the vast majesty of understanding All. 

You never doubted that by this age
throngs would look to you for wisdom,

imagined yourself in whale-speak 
sharing the meaning of tender, sharing the falcons’
long vision, imagined yourself
nodding at the seekers, shrugging when
needed to maintain mystery.

You thought this morning
about all that nonsense,

imagined yourself instead no longer hungry
and cold as you sat in your sad apartment.
The whales no longer passing through you
sine-cosine; you have no sky to fly,
nowhere to go. Deep thoughts
you once hoped for have left you adrift.

Instead you think about your empty shelves,
pretend you recall hearing songs in the ocean;
it seems so far from here
to the top of that last wave
but it’s really no farther now
than it has ever been: how simple it seems now:
shallow or deep, high or low, rich or poor,
hungry or sated:

sine, cosine;
cosine, sine…ah.


Stella

You live
between animals
in a studio apartment
pretending your daughter
is not so far away.

One side
of the room belongs to 
a dumb cat named Cat
who sleeps
for more hours in one day
than you usually muster
over two nights.

The other side of the room
belongs to an alarmingly smart dog
named Toby or Tsunami or
something else beginning
with a T you don’t care
to use or recall
as he never comes for it
which proves he’s smart
as there’s no need to answer
in a room this small. 

Your daughter
lives in New York
and neither calls nor
answers your calls.

You live
between animals
and look from time to time 
at the yellow wall phone
you can’t quite give up
for a mobile device. 

Feed the animals,
sit near the phone.
Don’t bother with the television.

If there’s ever a tsunami for real
they’ll never find you after.
The animals will survive
and go to shelters. 
Your daughter won’t bother 
trying to adopt either one.

You used to have a name,
but why bother with that now?
You were at last just
The Lady Between The Animals.
It’s not an easy one to forget,
but it will happen.


Be Sweet

be sweet with yourself
while donning your arms and armor
for the day.

drink fruits newly juiced
from a cup fashioned from
the skullcap of yesterday’s enemies.

be fierce as a broken daisy
not yet browning
as it droops toward decay.

ask yourself: if you are not
a warrior, 
how are you still here?

in your shelter
as night, whether ripped tent
or bungalow, dim tenement

or high glitz studio:
are they all not 
battlements? lay your hands

upon your sleeping beloved
and swear the only oath
a warrior should take:

here is what I am, here
is what I love. may I not let
this coarse need for war today

grind away my words 
and my deeds. may I
recall the sweet even as I 

traffic in the bitter.
may I come home. may I
sleep there. may I not be alone.


A Song Too Far

Low enough today
to be unable
to reach my guitar
even though it’s 
right there hung just
above eye level 
on the wall. 
Forget about the amp,
I’m carrying enough
already. It’s not like
I have any place to go
and play tonight
so I’ll sit and think about
how I’ve got
nothing going on
and even if I did
I’d have no reason
to stretch out my hand.