Tag Archives: meditations

Binge Watch

I’m sorry
it didn’t work out,

says a character 
in the television

through the mouth of 
a dead actor. 

If the character remained
in the television after

it was powered down,
it’s undetectable. The actor’s

remains are probably
real enough to find

if one were
to seek them out,

but those words
resonate long after

the driving breath
has dissipated.

I’m sorry
it didn’t work out.

Nights
marathoning shows

with dead actors speaking
live words. Days 

spent restless
before the TV 

with no idea what to do 
besides that, other than to dread

the moment the shows
ended and the TV shut down.

Lost character,
dead actor;

the fiction
is over.

 


Countdown

Ten more or
fifteen more
hours, days,
weeks, months,
or years: someone
offer me
one more hand
to give me
an outside chance
that I will need
more fingers
than my own
for the countdown.

Luckily for all of us
looking for hope, 

it’s nearly spring. Daffodils
poking up. Downy
woodpeckers are
constant and frenetic
upon the feeders —
have been all winter,
really, but it’s nice
to see them taking
turns upon the suet:
gorging for tomorrow
but so solidly in the moment
that ten or fifteen more
of whatever units one uses
to break down time
matter not at all to them;
there’s only now.

I will try to emulate
their joyful presence
though I’m compelled
to count down:

fifteen more,
ten more,
five more;

bathing in sighs,
buried in breakdowns;

two more,
one more,
now; the whole time

praying more
for the birds
than for myself.


Another

Sowing joy
for another.
That’s the life.

Who was I
to think I should matter
more than another?

Bag of fragrant seeds,
soil, sun and rain —
planting for another.

I’m nothing but someone 
else’s another — is it 
the person I am working for?

Does it matter
if it is not, as long as
another lives because of me?

We carry water
for one another. Stop
to sip from offered cups.

The fields we work
for one another
stretch to the far line

bordering sky and earth.
We can never know another
field than this one. 

So: out across the waiting rows
we go, laden with possibilities
meant for another.

We are more than vessels, though.
In the Other we see who we are,
who we can be if we turn to one another.

See how far we’ve come 
together even if we never meet?
We are one another; that’s our only hope

against famine and drought.
Sowing for one another,
we become joy like no other.


Fault Lines

Fault lines
and other wrinkles
more or less 
shaking me 
more or less daily
until I can’t see
the mirror reflecting me

What’s there
is more like refractions 
or fractures 

I’m trying not to speak ill
of my face in the mirror but
some of those cracks are so deep
I can see other people in there

I don’t like them


Last Apology

So much to apologize for
and soon enough,
no one left to accept the apology. 

No one to care
about good intentions
or consciousness of impact. 

A shrinking crowd
in the graveyard waiting
for this funeral to end

so they can go home
and wait for the next one,
whispering “sorry” the whole time

until they are silenced
and buried. When the last one
is ready, they’ll say it a final time;

after, the word will no longer exist
and the long stubborn dialogue
between us and our damage

will be over at last. It will be
a relief; it may serve 
as acceptable penance.


Dissolution

To become as small as I can get
in their presence. That’s my goal
for when I see them at last.

I want to stand before whatever survived
the slow dissolution of flesh and bone
and look up to them.  I want them 
to feel like the giants they are to me

as I kneel 
and fold myself up
and call them grandmother,
grandfather;  

other names beyond those,
names for the distant ones.

I want to know those names
so badly I would 
give up my own.

 


Terraformed

Do or stop all doing,
be dead or be changed into
another’s expectation;

I’m in awe of how far
they’ve pushed me
into their pattern.
They’ve killed part of me, 
believing death will spread
and give them life.  

I’ve been made
into something useful 
to another…yet

under the alien soil
where they’ve buried me,
I’m still alive, opening space
around my feared body, and

soon enough
will come raging out
into their smug faces
and remind them

that the surface
they prize so much
is just that.


BigDumbNoise

The lure of 
that which is meaningless
to my larger concerns

is that there could be 
relief
available for the
weight:

a jack to lift
what’s crushing me
off my chest

So therefore bring on
the dumbest TV and 
the loudest three chords
you’ve got

as now and then
the Big Dumb Noise
is all there is
to ease the pain

of complexity 
ambiguity
and the solid leaden
grays 

that seem to be 
my ruling principles
my heavy core


Neuropathy Blues

A guitar neck just feels
like more of my nerve-drunk hand.

The strings burn graves
into my dead fingertips.

The volume knob turned too far
spikes my fear of exposure.

If I sound insecure to others
about how it feels to play,

it is because these raging nerves
are what I know of my hands lately,

and lately my guitar is where they go
to fail and (soon enough) to die.

The pain on the day after:
history informing the future.

Music comes from
the place between those things.

All my apologies flow
from how every broken arpeggio

climbs a ladder leading 
to a day when I will have to stop

all of this, or when I am
at last stopped. 

Till then, though?
Till then, I am yours.


Death By Metaphor

Originally posted April 2010.

This morning
it feels like my heart
is knocking against my ribcage.

I mean that
in all sincerity. 
Heart, in this case,
is muscle and not metaphor. 
Ribcage is
a common descriptive term for the arrangement
of the ribs. 
Morning is when this is happening;
these words should be seen
as carrying no figurative weight.

I mean to say just what I say:
it’s morning, and it feels like
my heart is knocking against my ribcage.

Note that I did not say, “trying to break free”
from my ribcage.  That would be stupid.
The heart has no will of its own. 
It doesn’t know freedom and it’s not
going to leap from my body
leaving splinters of bone
and a huge hole behind it. 
That would invite metaphor again
and I’m trying to avoid it
as my breathing’s too shallow
to use so much oxygen
on creative thought 
right now.

Did I mention my breathing was shallow?
Don’t assume I meant something else. There’s
nothing hidden there;
my breathing 
is shallow, meaning I’m taking
smaller breaths than usual, higher in my chest,
more quickly. I could add that they do not
expand the ribcage as much as normal breaths.

You should get the picture
though I’m not trying to paint one:
just the facts here. I’m wincing
with the effort of staying in the moment
with the pain in my shoulder. 

Yes, I’m in pain.
For a full description of it,
I’m going to have to dip a bit into
comparison. 
Forgive me.  It’s what 
we all do;
I don’t know how else to say it, so:
it’s like something’s cutting me at intervals.
Sharp pain. We call it that because it explains it
to another. We’ve all felt it.  Right now,

it feels like my left shoulder’s being slashed
from clavicle to pit; a rod’s being shoved in the wound
and shoved down my left arm from the inside.

That’s accurate as a description
even if it’s not a fact. 
No wonder
my breathing’s so shallow. 
No wonder my heart
feels like it’s knocking on my ribcage.

I would feel safe
in having you assume
that these are the signs

of a heart attack, which itself is a metaphor
used to describe a myocardial infarction
or some other cardiac event.  Heart attack
is a bad description: as if the heart
were capable of hostilities. 
It’s not attacking me. 
It’s doing what it is supposed to do
in response 
to my not taking care
of it properly.  Fatty foods, 
no exercise, pack a day habit.
No metaphors there, just facts, though
I suck at self care contains a metaphor
that works, 
even if the sentence
makes no objective sense.

This morning, then,
let’s just say that it feels like my heart
is knocking against my ribcage.
Let’s say, further, that my dumb heart
and my ribcage
and my arm are in some kind of distress
and as a result

I am too 

although I don’t know
what I means, who I am
distinct 
from awareness
of my body. 
If I did,
would I be writing this
instead of calling the ambulance?
If the heart dies I’m sure I’ll find out.
No metaphor in that, either. 

I suspect there will be a moment
when I will understand
the meaning of I 
if keep writing instead of calling.
I won’t come back to tell you about it, though.
You will have to draw conclusions
from the poem and the pain and the heart
and the dying.  You will say

that stupid bastard died
writing a poem while his heart was failing,

and you’ll be correct.

I’m sure someone
will make it into a metaphor,

though in fact it isn’t.


Paid In Full

We lay our hope
these days

upon imminent endings:
the last mortgage check

slid into an envelope
and dropped into the mail;

the last “click”
on the “Pay Now” button

on the car payment
Website; the meteor

from on high
rendering the need for action

on everything at once
obsolete. 

O beautiful,
for fiery sky,

for closure 
on our pain.

Sing it, 
my countryfolk,

my weary troupe
of roleplaying warriors.

Curtain call,
final bows,

leaving the dark theater;
then, off we go to 

our debauched
after party.

Partings
are all we have to 

anticipate now;
do them drunk and

lawless. Do them weepy
and raw. Sit up

alone till dawn to wave at all this
one last time;

wait for the sound
of  “Paid In Full” 

being stamped on our notes;
lie down to rest.


You Liar

When you knew it was over 
you did nothing drastic,
did not weep or moan. 

You tucked
all your loves
into their beds,

went outside
into winter rain,
sat on the step

at the end of the walk
and got soaked through
listening to the highway below.

Late night traffic, still busy,
people heading home,
you tell yourself,

though in fact
you don’t know that.
They could be fleeing,

could be joyful or manic and
destination-free, urged along
by a wild compass within.

You had to make it up
as they went along, because
you weren’t going anywhere.

You had to believe
they must all be going home.
Home felt safe and solid

and someone had to be
as safe and solid, as
clear in their intent

and execution
as you were not.
The cars rolled on

and you sat still
in the rain, soaking 
through, still trying

to pretend all of us 
would be fine,
you liar.


Unimportant

Her name is unimportant here,
not because she was 
but because I do not want you
to know her in the way
I will describe her.

She hung around us,
not with us.
We had a nickname for her.
I will not say it.

Did not mock her, not 
directly, not to her
face, unless our rolled eyes count
as mockery, or our excuses
to leave and go to class,
even if there was no class;

I will say it.
I understand now
and will admit it now:
there was no class.

In casual discussion 
she mentioned once that
if they ever filmed 
the story of her life
she wanted to be played by
Olivia Newton-John.

We rolled our eyes.
We went straight off to no class.

She died young of cancer.
Her name was Unimportant. 
Her nickname was cruel
and unnecessary and
mocked her body.

God, we were awful
behind her back
and I suspect
to her face too 
if I think hard about who
I was, who I may still be.

In the movie of my life
I should be played by
a stone sunk into the silt
at the bottom of a cold lake,
a stone so deep in the water
the chance of it ever being seen
by human eyes is next to nothing.
Infinitesimal. A probability so small
you could hear the dead laughing at it.


Existence

Existence
A function of language

To bring a flower forward
from thought

description
matters as nothing else

does
Pictures now

can be fake
and who trusts 

that all is as it appears
But add the precision of color words

Talk to us of
the threaded ridges of

the stem and the way
its damaged green sticks

in the nostrils
peppery and stiff

lasting after the bloom
is taken away 

and thus it exists
for you as no picture could

With 1000 words
or 100 

in your ear
before your eyes

easy to say
there was a flower

It was without doubt
real


Driving Bad Roads

Tonight,
driving people to their destinations,
listening to them
worry on their phones,
barely talking to me
or talking to me nonstop and 

I agree,
I agree,
I agree
till I’m weary of agreement;

yes, these roads are bad.
Yes, these roads are busy.
Yes, there are too many 
deep ruts. Yes, someone
ought to do something
about it.

Tonight, I drove
the longest unpaved road
in the city to its end
with a man stinking of 
some sweet liquor
who warned me and warned me
how bad the road
ahead would be.

Tonight,
I drove Wildwood Road
to its faraway end,
came back around
the cul-de-sac
onto the same ruts and potholes
I’d just covered,
knowing enough
this time about where
the hardest blows
to the suspension would come
to slow down enough
to soften them.

Tonight, 
I came home 
over the roads I know best,
missing every pit and 
axle-breaker hole
because I know it all 
so well.

Someone ought to do something
about it one of these days

but until then
I take it one night at a time:
dodging, avoiding,
half listening to complaints
and monologues;

trying
to hold it together
while I drive
and drive.