Tag Archives: meditations

Rising Now

rising now
you are 
leaf upon wind
lifting you
from where
you’d fallen

you dip and whirl

how can you possibly regret
losing your grip
upon the tree
that raised you

when this is how you are now
for however briefly
this last flight lasts


Love Song For The New Year

Originally posted 12/31/2011.

Every day starts a year.
Every day ends one.
Any day can be celebrated,
any day regretted.

Regret one day
for one day,

let celebration
of the next begin.

All I need for
any year or day: 

one with whom
to celebrate,

one with whom
to commiserate,
one with whom to share

the New Year of every single day.

Just one with whom to straighten
up after the labor,

one with whom to soothe
and be soothed;

one with whom
to start anew

each daily
New Year’s Day.


The Earworm Scripture

I’ve been humming
the worst song in the world
for hours now
because I heard it
in a convenience store
when I was unguarded enough
to let it in and now it’s burrowed
deep. (There is a reason
they are called earworms, after all.)

The Nagging God
who has been an earworm to me almost from birth
repeats incessantly (in time to the beat)
that I have no one but myself
to blame for this. That if I’d been
a little more diligent and not stepped away
from my desk to go get smokes
and a very big and very bad coffee,

I’d be sitting at home in silence
with nothing to do but write something 
much better than this pop-slop mess
I’ve got to deal with now. 

Nagging God, I say, how can
pacing my room and procrastinating
and cursing my deaf muse
get me this level of punishment?
I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself
and now i’m getting downright
homicidal, suicidal, even
deicidal over this constant barrage
of alleged music inside.

God says nothing, just keeps singing.

How can
anyone claiming divinity
be this off-key, I wonder…
which leads me to another 
blasphemy and then to a sudden
heresy, followed by epiphany — 

and wonder of wonders,
here I am with a symphony playing
out of the pen in my hand.


Don’t Break

If this feels more like
the end of all things
than the beginning of 
some new thing, consider

my cats in their respective windows
and the feeding birds a few feet away
on the other side of the glass;
how in spite of cold and sleet out there

and the impenetrable barriers in here
they all continue to feed and fly
and watch and hope from their
present circumstances. Consider

these perfect little killers
stymied every day and still waiting
for their chance; consider the sparrows
and nuthatches blithely perching

within an easy jump if only
the glass wasn’t there. Consider that —
then consider where you and I are, where
we all are in this moment — what if we are

not meant to be observers, but are instead
the glass between the killers and prey?
What if our place is between the end of everything
and the beginning of something new,

and all that is asked of us, really,
is simple: hold on, don’t break. Not yet.


Fate?

Anytime, 
call me anytime

I say to the 
shadow

hanging behind
me, tacked to

my heels 
as if this were

an old cartoon and
my shadow could be

stolen by the 
right thief.

This shadow
found me and

stuck itself
to me long ago.

I barely recall
the pain of that

but I know I left
permanent tracks in my own

blood all over
everything. So when

the shadow started
asking for permission

to stay with me
I fell apart almost,

almost shocked that
all at once it seemed

I had a choice
in the matter; I looked

at how many rusted
brown tracks I’d made

that had already ruined
everything behind me, 

looked at the thorough mess
I’d made and 

surrendered to it, so now
when the shadow comes begging

to stalk me and cut me
anywhere I could go from here,

I just give one odd
mock-affable nod and say

Anytime, shadow,
anytime you want,

never even stop
to adjust the nails

in my feet, never even stop
walking and messing, 

never even stop to think
I could rise to my toes

and run, make it hard
for the shadow to catch me,

stop leaving my blood
all over my traces,

get far enough away
from it to only hear it

as a far-off squeak, reminder
of a lifetime of haunted trails.


Whatever The Weight

Whatever you feel:

long twinges of fear
upon rising; terror
of a full mailbox; 
happiness before sleep
if only fleeting;

whatever you feel,
I hold myself open
for you in that feeling.

Bring me pain or pleasure
and I will carry it with you.
Bring me ecstasy or final 
despair upon grief’s arrival,
or your own fear of death
collapsing into acceptance,
I will shiver and then embrace
it, and you with it;

for I know the poverty 
of loneliness and how it ravages
one’s capacity to be present;
how it drives you from past to future
with no time to stop for now. I know

where you are when you stop 
and cower, for I have been there myself;
I know the neighborhood of contentment
even if your address is adjacent to mine,
or a street away or more.

Whatever the walk demands of us,
we will walk it. Whatever the talk
gives us to speak, we will say it.

Whatever you end up being,
I will stand there and see you as you are;

and whether you walk on without me
or I without you, that there was a shared path
once, I will never deny. I will never
allow myself the luxury of edited past
and altered future without acknowledging
that you and I once shared the present
and all it held, we carried it together,
and it led us to today.


Everyday Carry

Obligatory knife, billfold,
pack of smokes;

pen, notebook,
lighter, and phone

tucked into various
pockets and bags

which also hold 
all my dead friends 

from long ago 
right up to yesterday.

To pull one
mundane tool

or item forth
is to drag with it

smiling old ghosts
covered in lint.

After lighting a cigarette
or peeling an apple, I nod

to Eddie or Joey
or Kelly or Terry

or whoever else it is and
put them away along with

my everyday carry — the things
I need to get though the day;

all of them, knowledge and fire and edge
and wealth and Death and 

of course, the means to my art;
all of them with me every day,

smiling in my pockets, waiting
for my need. 


Tuning

For at least one moment,
nothing remains of pain 
or worry for me 
after hearing each string of a guitar
tuned to a unison with
the fretted previous string —

all ache resolves
when the tones
lock into each other
so that one cannot tell
two strings are sounding —

it will not stay in tune 
forever, I know; but even
this one moment is long enough —

a sustained note of hope that things
can be set right, that there is
a way to do that, an art or science
or both, that just works —

that up until the moment
the string breaks,
it can be well played.


Blister

You woke up this morning
perched on a blister. Don’t protest:
you know it’s true. Hear me out:

you know it could burst
at any minute; you know
the fall into the leavings

will be dangerous, and 
you’ll be soaked with whatever
is in there. You understand 

the word “befouled”
as something more than
prediction, something less than

promise. You see you are both alone
and not alone at the same time:
those who fall when it tears open

may fall together or apart
and safe landing
with those who love you

is not guaranteed. Safe landing
is not guaranteed in any case,
and then there’s the matter

of the blister itself — whose hand
is it on, and will they choose to clench it
upon us all when it breaks?

All you have now is the sight of sky above,
the scent of the earth, the sound
of beloved voices, the taste of memory,

the touch of future. When it bursts
you will have the relief of 
the end of fear. When you land,

what you will have left of yourself
is unknown. You have this morning
now. That’s all any of us have now.


Calendar

I don’t feel 
like buying a calendar
this year — demarcation
of the future feels like
a farce —

the days will surely
heat up and fall
into a progression
of same upon horrible same —

If there is to be hope 
in the coming year
I don’t want to pin it on
a date — instead I shall plant
a garden

and mark time by shoot
leading to seedling 
leading to bud and bloom and 
fruit or thick-enough root —

and if there is meal enough for me
at the end

I shall count it
as my small hope fulfilled
and if I can feed another

I will say I have exceeded my hope

even as the rest burns

for it is already burning
and what we mean 
when we say hope
is singed and buried in ash
so deep
we would not know it
if it emerged and came to us

and how will we cross
the date from the calendar
if we cannot know 
the day has come 

or even if
it has already come and gone


Naming The Cloud

Rumpelstiltskin
wasn’t playing

Tore himself in half
once he was named

Naming
your cloud is 
most of the
work

It prefers
to stay
anonymous

Without a name to call it
one can’t conjure it
or dispel it

so what shades you
what is following you
what nameless 
block of gray is that 
riding over you

when you look for the stars
what is between you and them

what is stealing your baby
in return for a heap of straw
spun into gold

should you even
call that gold
that barn-shit straw
masquerading as gold

which lies of your parents
do you need to un-tell
what names should you give them
what names should you cry
to see them dispelled

Rumpelstiltskin
wasn’t playing
when he refused to give his name

and your cloud 
that storm above you
forever and always
isn’t saying a thing
you don’t already know 
somehow

Naming the cloud
is the main part of the work
that’s needed
to break the sky
to see stars


Fever Ball

Part of a secret project…!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

see them all?

at first
say

peacock boys slide
their glorious backs 
along the walls

glowing girls
dance together
out on the floor
away from the shadows
on the walls

but then say

who dares to say
which is which
who is who

shoulders upon shoulders
bodies spin against 
time and convention
to ratchet rasping rhythm

in a ghost ballroom

above
a ruinous city 

perhaps new Paris
or old Havana
or a pure fiction
of both at once

awash in peril and sex

their glitter hands
roaming and now

under the roar of sacred danger
see them glide into 
this jeweled wake
this fever cotillion
of open desire
and clandestine tension

see them all as they move
along the walls

away from the walls

hear them
sing…


Pug And Wolf

I had just left the trash at the curb
and turned back to the house

when I had a flash of fantasy:
a pug was sitting 

on the porch, speaking to me
of winter. 

Back in the house
with coffee and comfort now,
I can’t recall what the dog said.
Rolling possibilities over themselves

I try to jolt myself
into falsehood, telling myself
it was not a pug
but a wolf
and ancestral truth had been
offered to me at last,

but I know it was a pug.
I know I cannot recall the message
precisely because
I want it to have been a wolf.

I want to have been chosen
by something
stereotypically pure,
faithful to what my whiteness demands of me:
that any time nature speaks
it must speak to the brown in me
and not to the hybridized me,
most certainly not to the aging urban poor
me, the crumbling me who 
spends his vision quests at a keyboard.

What’s happened

is that even when I am given a vision
I can’t see it
because I’m wrapped in a lie
and cannot see the truth 

that I’m a pug here myself,
a pug in winter; cloud forming
before my nose, so close to my eyes
I am blinded by
my own breath.


South Station

He passes me in South Station — 

his duffel bag more duct tape than fabric,
his hair a stiff, frayed field, 
his sweatshirt bearing the words
“UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK”
showing from under his puffy coat —

and I hear him
softly but emphatically repeating

BLONDE
BLONDE
BLONDE
BLONDE
BLONDE

as he goes out 
unapologetically into
slushy old Boston’s
colonial headwaters,

that universal password
relentless 
upon his chapped lips.


Labels

People with 
full face beards and

hollow cheeks; people

of glitter and loud 
music, of difference and
fragrance unlike yours, people

who seem to represent
luxury 
overlaid
on poverty —

you are not certain of how
to label them: male, female, 
rich, poor? They are certainly

people: grim people,
angry people, or 
maybe
simply 
worried people —

see the way their eyes
move above their beards.
See them flick back and forth

from you, to their neighbors, 
back to you, wondering
what you are thinking,

looking for safety among those 
like them. It has been
a hard world, after all,

and full beards cannot hide
hollow cheeks, or fear,
forever. You are

not certain of how
to label them?
D
o not. It is

one small thing
you can do
in a vicious world.