Tag Archives: meditations

Effloresence

complications in the country 
my blood and the nerves of the hand
have led me

to distrust my senses
and be flush with anger
perpetually

others think I should
let this flow into
my art and thus be cured

jackass thoughts
if my poems were ever therapeutic
I’d have never gotten to this point

think of them instead
as efflorescence on the hide
of a flimsy house of rotten brick

that I have shaken off
and let fall outside the house
you think it’s beautiful there on the ground

but the house is still
rotten and I am still
sick in this country

where I am trying to nurse
my syrupy blood and my dead nerves
to something like an ending all can stomach

I gave up on storybook happy
a long time ago and nothing I write
could change that

An Old Poet Counts To One Hundred Percent

You miss one hundred percent
of the shots you don’t take,
read the poster
on my former manager’s wall.

It should have read, “You miss
one hundred percent of the shots
I forbid you to take,
and one hundred percent of the shots
you take without asking me first.
Then again, it’s better to ask for forgiveness
than permission — but do both
at once one hundred percent of the time.”

Fifty percent of the reason
I quit that damn job was
that damn poster, and the other
fifty percent was how sick I was 
of the damn cafeteria. How I could never
eat my lunch in peace. How no lunch
was ever one hundred percent 
free of work, network, busy work…

no matter. I do not miss
one hundred percent
of what I stepped away from. I take
one hundred percent of the shots now.
I miss a less than exact percentage.

Let’s not, in fact, admit to there being
percentages at all for missing and taking now.
I take a tree, I miss a stone.
I miss falling, I take flight.

I took my shot. I took 
my missing it as an immeasurable ocean
upon which to set sail.


Through The Hot Ash Of The World

I find myself
walking unwillingly
(as always,
as I was born to do,
as I have since day one) 
with the common version
of the devil
through the hot ash 
of his world, sucking in
the fragrance
of his sudden irrelevance
as the structure he supported
for so long is 
ironically brought down
by people’s actions 
in support of him.

I find myself
ecstatically afloat within
on the knowledge that 
in the long run
this demon only holds
illusion

and all over the globe
less crudely rendered visions 
of him and his Adversary
are getting up after
their long nap,
cracking their knuckles,
and turning to each other
in symbiotic fashion and friendship
to resume their lives
with a hearty,

“Now then…where were we?”

The common version of the devil
looks at all the ruin
of what was done 
in his name
and mutters, “I’m 
fucked now, aren’t I?”
I respond,

“Buck up,
bud. I hear your partner’s
coming up from 
the Harrowing shortly.
Maybe the two of you
can go grab a seat on
a mountain top somewhere
and talk yourself into 
something like
retirement. You’ve
certainly earned it.”


An Old Poet Thinks About…Cats

On one of the rare occasions
twenty years ago or so
when I came pretty close to 
Pulling It Off,

I lay upon
the bathroom floor surrounded by
concerned cats and pulled myself 
together even as I regretted my weakness,

telling myself I was doing It 
for others, staying here
for the fear of leaving
others to live in the wake of It

and how It would ruin their lives to lose me
that way and have all they knew of me
erased by the vision of me ending up
cold, bled out upon the ancestral tiles,

ringed by the only beings
who stayed with me
through the dimming
and the light going out at last.  

Twenty years or so later
I question that choice, uncertain
that living on past that day didn’t ruin
more lives than Pulling It Off would have,

thinking of the saddened people who’ve met me since then
and the ones who were there who’ve endured so much more,
and while I’m better now to some degree
and wouldn’t do more than think now and then

about trying once again to Pull It Off
and still on occasion
regretting my weakness at the time,
I am glad there are cats around me here, just in case.


Kintsugi

Open a window to see
how things have changed from yesterday,
or even as far back as the day before,
the last time the windows were open.

Look into whatever is out there:
a cloud obscuring a dimmed sun, a front yard
damp with failed promise. Having expected
so much from you, it looks back in disappointment.

The weeds keep returning and although
that is to be expected, every year it’s
a source of your submergence into regret.
Your landlord says he should have paved it all.

There are days you agree with the old grouch
until the moment the sun comes out of its obscurity
and you remember the pink and green-slate leaves
of the hen and chicks growing in the broken front wall.

You did not plant them or plan for them
but they keep fighting through to the light.
The weeds you deplore are doing the same.
Hope, in its many shades of green, always shows up.

So you sigh and dress for changing weather
and prepare to weed — taking the unwanted
away, clearing for the desirable. You think about
repairing the front wall. You decide to let that go:

what has filled in the cracks
is too settled to lose,
and too perfect inside the damage
where it grows.


This Train

If anything at all
could divert the train I’m on
to some destination not promised
on its itinerary, I’d gladly
make it happen.

Ride the line long enough
and you realize
it’s just a long commute
to an unappetizing job site
that’s been marketed as paradise.

They said we were bound for glory.
I see glory off on the horizon
and I don’t think the tracks
will pass through there, not if
we keep going as we have.

I could have been a gambler,
a midnight rambler — anything
but good and holy. So: next
slow curve, I’m jumping off.
Likely end up broken and dead.

No matter. I’ll be still.
If they never find me I will
be right here forever, off
to the side of the cursed track.
Could have been so much worse.


Cipher

In all the time I’ve spent
everywhere but here,
I only ever wanted to be
anywhere but there.

Here is also there.
Here is more there
than I care to admit. How
to be present anywhere

is my Great Unknown.
On the shore I long for desert.
In the desert I thirst
for sea and shore.

In a monk’s cell I would dream
of dissolute throngs; in a mob
I would no doubt separate
and seek a nook in which to cower.

Family, did you ever imagine
I would ever settle well, nearby,
ready to drop in for a visit and stay a while?
Friend, beloved, did you ever fully believe

I was as much a nomad as you are?
Inside, the best face I can muster
is a sour one. All outside will see
sweetness, a lifelong facade.

I only know how to be absence
in your presence, and I am sorry,
but these times being what they are
it is a living of sorts. Onward.


Done With

the broken arm of lady justice
the evened-out rage of alleged allies

my own agreement with those
who urge agreeability over gunfire

Done with

the stink of my confusion over who I truly am
the longing to reconcile all my parts

the ornery spirit that then seizes my hands
and pushes them into this sodden mess of art

the damnation that adheres to them
when I pull them out again and try to simply live

Done with

the notion that living could yet be simple
the sunsets and sunrises that try to say there is hope

the hope that will not touch me as I wish to be touched
the touch that hope offers that will not do to calm me

this whole curse of a hopeless body
that stumbles over everything

the time I’ve lost recovering from stumbles
trying to right myself on the grand wrong path

the mistaken faith of others that
such an implacable path leads anywhere worthy

Done with

the days of staring at my inadequate garage
the garage itself as public tell of where I fell from grace

shame and anger and guilt and insomniac self judgement
over my blind acceptance of lady justice’s sullied grip upon me

the days behind the days ahead and the days between the cracks
in the mirror I have in front of me at all times

the legacies of all who put me here
my own ease in how I have let them matter

Done with

the compulsion to say all this and still claim citizenship
in a place where I was never meant to be

Done with

opening days always with a sneer
closing days always with a sob


Monday Again

Time to rise, my friend,
but before you do, a question:
if you were to die while dreaming,
would you know?

Would you lie there cooling in the bed
while wandering through a palace
or riding a wild dog along a red ocean
at the sunset of twin suns? Would your heart cease

in the middle of finally getting
an answer from your mother
about the troubling dates of her first marriage
and your birth?

While dancing,
perfectly abandoned,
with the never-before-seen Right Light
of your Life?

In other words, if you die
in the middle of a dream —
if you stop being, just stop —
do you continue?

Would you even know you are
no longer? Are you certain?
Are you certain it’s Monday again,
and that you will be rising shortly?


Broken House

The door to this house is open,
leads nowhere. Once inside
you are outside again and you
will keep entering and soon you realize
you will never get in.

No matter how long you do manage
to stay there you will have no choice but to leave
and then no matter how far you go from the house
you will find you are inside. Once inside you cannot stay;
once outside you cannot leave.

The people who live in the house are
shells. Hard, sometimes showing a trace
of what they once were, but overall when you listen
to them? Ancient oceans, the cry of drowning
in sight of a house by the shore, forever falling into the sea.


Berry Father

The first thing I see this morning:
photo of a graveyard.

Two stones stand out
more clearly than the others. On one,

the word “Berry.”
On the other, “Father.” I tell myself

it’s a portent of how
the day will go, that this is how

today is going to be:
random messages, written in stone,

any meaning to be drawn forth
by the viewer who right now

is seeing one sweet word,
one less so, and nodding his head.


If You Qualify

you stand behind the yellow line
and wait for your number to be called.
they’re waiting on number 403 now,
you are holding number 415,
it shouldn’t be long, they tell you.

half a life later you are still waiting but at least it’s
not your life. you saw them carrying off
the still-breathing form of 407 and he
looked about half your age. what did they do to him,
you wonder out loud. nothing, says 414,

not even looking up or turning around
before speaking. if you qualify, it takes less time
than waiting for it out there in the world
where it’s random. 408, someone calls.
everything moves up. you shuffle ahead. this is fine.


Edgar Lilith Rosebush

Edgar was a rosebush.
Lilith was a rosebush.
They were the same rosebush.

They answered
to different names
depending on who invoked them.

They ran a little wild and
took up more than their planned space.
The huge blooms more than compensated.

After hours Edgar Lilith did try to understand
who was truly who and why it was so
but in the end they gave up

when their scent shut all that down.
They’d heard there was a quote
about names and roses in some book

but they were proof enough. Didn’t
need Shakespeare or anyone else
to make them love their names and self.

Who was Shakespeare, anyway,
but a bunch of names over time
and just one the world had settled on?

They were Edgar Lilith. Whatever’s
in a name, they were as settled on it
as the people who called upon them

and their blooms grew huge and fragrant
as they grew as large and wild
as their doubled name would allow.




The Body And The Souls

It’s amateur hour here
in the body.

Everyone living within
is confused

about what
should happen next.

All running into
one another.

All dancing mad
tarantella impressions.

Some like to say
the body’s just a vehicle

the soul uses to get around —
no. It’s all one being, though my soul

is a multiple. No binary for me.
The body and the interior world

are one crowd in chaos.
We’ll get by, more or less;

more likely less of course
considering the bruising going on.

But I’m there,
crowd that I am,

body
that is also all souls.

I’ll be there,
joy as a plural, pain

as a plural, saturated
with the plural nature

of the pieces of deity
we hold within.


Just An Ape

Just another aging ape in a restaurant
dining on some descended
dinosaur — chicken, maybe.

That’s what I appear to be
to others. Little do they know
who I really am –I can’t

tell them, of course. That would be
unrectifiable. It’s how I get by,
you see — allowing others

to define me by mistake and then
living up to the wrong billing.
All I’ve ever done, in fact,

has flowed from the mistakes
of others. My one true path has been
threaded through falsehood and

this ape, this unevolved fat boy
chewing with his mouth closed
in spite of his wanton instincts,

is satisfied. The chicken is good.
The people who think I’m good
are good with me. What I am to myself

is ridiculous and unimportant
to them. Inside though? Inside
the well fed body, the glittering

at my core would blind them
if they could see. They never will.
Let them think me small and ashamed,

or grandiose and self-important.
Everyone’s got it right as long
as they let me be.