Tag Archives: meditations

It All Happens For A Reason

It’s such a wrecked world,
such a messy place

with piles of little damages and
headshaker…injuries? murders?

mistakes? Here are a few
that do not look so accidental;

consciously painful to consider
this, unconsciously thrilling to think

that someone’s orchestrating 
all the chaos and that there’s no such thing 

as accident here.  It makes the world
more orderly for you to think

that it takes more
than random incidents on a preset path

to cause such devastation.
Gives you a reason to whisper, God,

and even though it seems insane to say it,
that soothes as much as it kills. 


Everyone Is Burning

Common wisdom says
if you find yourself on fire
you must stop, drop, and roll
until there is no more fire,

but no one follows that up
with any wisdom at all about 
what to do with all these ashes
and hard charred hunks
left behind by the flames.

It would be good to know.
There’s so much of this
going around
it’s hard to distinguish
smoldering people
from the land on which
they suffer,
the land onto which
they’ve fallen

rolling in agony 
until they either 
put the fire out
or spread it to
another,
and then another.


Greatest Song Ever Written

suppose you stop snickering
and get shut of the need
to scorn those folks over there
fingering slipcovers
in the discount aisle
talking only to each other
when they speak of
perfection and how well
these would go with 
the drapes in the front room

and suppose
you quit sneering at those
who proclaim their love
for the Beatles as you cannot
distinguish between
an emotional bond to their
soundtrack of a lifetime
and your own decidedly
up-to-the-minute
lasting-maybe-a-minute
enthusiasm for whatever minute
you find yourself in
(unless
of course
it hits you
RIGHT THERE
like a never-ending
cryogenic block
on your future)

and suppose
you get your head
out of whatever fragrant
arrogant nook
you keep it in 
and see yourself
years from now
dressed fifteen years 
too early for retro fashion
choosing from cheap mirrors
in a bargain aisle
while humming
yesterday’s
greatest song ever written


Lying Down

While bending to plant myself
on the back corner of the kitchen floor
in order to clean the litter box
I watch myself lose the thread
and the balance
and now I’m lying down.

Becoming aware again,
face to face with the shit
this way, I can’t imagine
getting up again and no one
is home to help me change my mind
about lying down.

Maybe it will all hit the papers — the part 
about being alone, the part about how many days
had passed and then some lines about
who they want to think I was before it happened. 
No one, really, should stop to care about such things. 
In the end, like everyone, I’m caught lying down.

There isn’t a lot for them to say 
beyond that, so it’s your turn. Pretend there’s
something profound in the way
I will be found: smiling, you can
say — or maybe not. Eyes open,
or maybe not. Lying down, definitely.

I may hear you speak of this
from wherever I am, or I won’t 
and even the idea that I still will be who I was
is likely just more of the same shit
I’m looking at right now from the comfort
of the cold ragged linoleum where I’m lying down.

This, though: there are things down here
I never saw before this moment. I see
long assumed truths and falsehoods
swept up in light and changing. Even the shit’s
changing, as is the light itself around me. I will not
call it beautiful yet. Right now, I’m just lying down.


Entitled

You look like 
you got a nice skull
under there — 

skin and muscle
covering it up
but you can tell

Inside I bet
is a good-enough brain
and how about that tongue 

flapping out
skull shaped
word sounds

Skull so hard
So hidden but words
shaped just so — as if

they’d passed through
just such a skull 
By your words we know you

inside and out and 
past the meat and skin
there’s diamond bone

impossible bone
white bone singing 
ownership songs

hard and proud
wet from blood
and damp meat

each syllable thick
with marrow
each toothy bite 

chomping down like
it comes straight from
the skull of your god


A Broken Mug

Breaking the mug
left behind when a friend moved
and left me their favorite mug

in order
to practice unattachment and 
travel light

hurt. I was attached to the person
but soon enough more so to the mug
I drank coffee from every day all day

for close to eight years
till Tuesday or maybe Monday,
who knows now, it’s been a fog

of worry since then about
this loss and feeling I have failed
a friendship, although we haven’t

spoken much over the years since
he moved. I’m sure there’s
more to say about this — when

have I ever had less to say
about such foolishness? My hand’s 
rotten nerves let go when I could

not. I swept up the pieces at once
and they’re gone now
with this week’s trash. No one got 

hurt. I trust he’s doing ok regardless.
I have a new daily mug
I don’t like as much, but I’ll adapt,

I’m sure. I will drink a lot of coffee
from this until such time
as I break it, then repeat

with another mug or myself
and then we shall see what hurts,
if anything, when the last one is gone. 


What Scratch?

If you have noticed the scratch across my face
that I gave myself with my right thumb nail
grown extra long for fingerpicking a guitar

the scratch I gave myself tearing the CPAP mask
from my face while trying to get out of bed
swiftly enough not to pee myself first

the scratch across the cheek I gave myself
trying to be quick and quiet and not disturb
my love sleeping next to me as I rose

the scratch not administered by either cat
who’d been on the bed with us and who then rose
to demand a two in the morning feeding

the self made wound light evidence of how often
this happens now, diabetes and other
wear and tear having made it all inevitable

this cut line across the pressed lines made by the straps
on the mask that keeps me breathing all night long
in spite of my best unconscious efforts in opposition

the cut made by my long term devotion
to the instrument I wish I’d played better
and harder and longer 

the scratch I barely feel as after the bathroom I stop briefly
in the living room to look at the laptop and the clock
and hesitate while trying to choose between sleep and poem

If you can see the scratch
the answer is 
yes it hurts


Cliche

I wish
any given cliche
was less useful.
Less of
a semi-holy relic
from a poem
no one recalls
except for that one
live phrase. Less
appropriate in so 
many situations,
and more of a
guaranteed groan
from those who hear it
who then could insist
upon originality
no matter how
inefficient the
subsequent conversation
becomes or how long
it might take 
to say something
as perfect as that
tired spurt of 
fossilized speech 
that everyone 
makes lazy allowance for.
We might have 
to slow down, 
be more precise,
think new, talk
fresh before moving on
to the next chance
to speak and
who could say
what might
come of that?


Out On The Boards

What you used to tell yourself
was no more than a quirk 
or a tic to be borne
with dignity

in spite of the shame
it engendered
regardless of whatever play
you were in

is now a wide tear
in the backdrop 
wherever you go
whatever you do

The nasty old brick wall behind it
with years of grafitti
about you and your shame 
can be seen from any angle 

and it’s time to decide
if you are going to brazen it out
then bow to the awful reviews
or go on pretending no one can see

by reminding yourself
they keep coming to the show
The whole run is sold out and
There’s no one who can take your place

One gesture after another
toward your grandiose legacy
Drawing attention to the fact
that the crowd is thinning and 

it’s not like it used to be 
out here on the boards
They’re whispering as they filter out
to the street and leave you behind


Ode To The Back Seat Of Our First Car

where we once kept our hope
for the obvious to happen
a place of longing sometimes fulfilled
more often disappointed
revised into lies

where we tried to hide empties
when blue lights came flashing
under mounds of fast food bags
old T-shirts almost gone to rags
a towel or two or more

where we now keep no deep nostalgia or regret
for what we lost or did not lose
back there behind the driver’s seat
where today there are groceries or kids
or rideshare customers for the critical second job

of all the things we put on the back seat
when we were too young
to put them anywhere else 
the only thing we long to hold again
is the idea that anything can happen there

as we travel
mundane routes
to and from 
mundane places 
which when we were young

were still years or decades away 
we try to hold to the idea
that possibility is behind us
but still within reach
with only a bit of a stretch


In Addiction, Bond And Bondage

In addiction 
one may find
both bond 
and bondage
and he worked hard
to maintain both.
through people he saw
daily as well as the ones
passing through, or
just passing. Such
connection is earned, 
no matter what 
the learned and the clean
say, and he did his part:
let them into his home
as far as he could,
paid for all their substances
as well and often as he could —
buying a round
for the house left him
floorbound more than once
but he got up and maintained —
and whenever there was
a less than occasional death
he bowed his head and went back
to the same corners, same stools,
same streets almost at once
to say, “did you hear about…”
and to say, “damn shame” or
“saw that coming…” almost by 
instinct, so easily had things turned
from bondage to bond and back,
the changes almost seamless,
his face hardening from masking
despair with concern, barely
wondering at all after a while
if, when his turn came to be
the subject of the day, he would be
spoken of in the same way. 


Listening To Ornette

Inside this music
is an ocean
with tides that sweep
into then away from
where you’re standing

bringing you mysterious
objects then taking them back
before you can fully understand
what you’re seeing
and now and then

something washes up
to your feet still alive and then
it’s gone again and you
end up on your knees before
the pulse of the sound

praying that you yourself
could be swept away 
and then back again holding
all these secrets you’ve glimpsed
long enough to understand them

so you can then release them
back to the ocean
for others to find
when they face
the music and pray


The Original Goof

1.
I’m a game piece. Have been
forever, all the livelong day.
Body designed by compulsive Goof,
I move into spaces for moments
at a time, hurt or enjoy the time,
then move on.

I assume it’s not my place
to understand the Game,
for I don’t know
how to win,
how to play to a draw,
how to lose.

Someone else, 
the original Goof, gets
to know that. They will
shove me into a box and
walk away satisfied or not;
I’ll be in the dark even then.

2.
If it sounds like
I’m ceding my autonomy,
bemoaning my anatomy,

know that no part of me
indulges in hagiography
for myself or others. I did

hard damage here and own my 
long decay — but something put me
here and twisted me this way;

original Goof chasing laughs
or the joy of play, and as I said
I’m thinking I’m the game piece

who doesn’t get to know
how the Game ends,
or even how it does end.

3.
Rotten old songs stuck
in my head, all the livelong day.

Their baggage’s loaded in 
and I’m embarrassed that it won’t go away.

Lyrics in the background,
the Game and the moves right up front. 

I still see the Board as a playroom
where I’m too clumsy to use the toys

as intended. It hurts now more than it
pleases, but as I was never meant 

to be either Winner or Loser,
it does not matter.

Original Goof or whoever’s holding it,
won’t you blow

your horn? Fee fi fiddly,
pay me what I’m owed.  I’ve been

your gandy dancer long enough. 
I’m ready to take that bow.


High School Reunion

Faces as fresh as memories of
a mistake made in front of a crowd.

Grip as firm as the pommel
on a saddle or a sword.

A smile fast as a bleeding heart
tumbles to the floor.

Friendly — what’s friendly?
Do we embrace now,

punch each other’s shoulders?
What do we do now, old buddy?

We’ve not seen each other
since high school, or a year or two later

at Billy’s Pub, or the Station Tavern;
who knows, some other local bar. Are we still

drunk on that old beer?  Are we still 
afraid to admit our entire relationship

was alphabetical, based on twelve years’
of classroom seating charts? That we

don’t know each other, really?
That we never did?

Let it be shoulders then. Then let us turn, 
in pain, separately back to the bar.


Ex-Smoker

In my heart 
(although it’s been years
since my last smoke)

I’m still ending
most conversations
with the thought of the arc
of a flicked spark
— cherry on the end of a butt — 
into a nearby puddle 

which means most of the time
in my heart it’s been raining
and the notion
that such an action is harmful
is less important
that the joy
of the cool it used to represent

whenever I perfectly centered the toss
into the puddle so that it hissed
punctuating the completion
of my every pithy thought

now I’m just
cancerous and failed
wheezing out platitudes

still
that Marlboro scent can
give me heaven
with a death punch
and I miss 
the hiss
the rain
the time when my heart
could hold things