I’m just passing through.
I won’t live here again.
I can’t. I see too well
to dare to think it could be done.
Within weeks after moving back
I’d tear myself up, lay myself
in a hole in the ground, set myself in
cement for archaeologists to find
centuries from now. They’d say
I was typical of the townsfolk
of the era and they’d be so right,
but I wouldn’t care then because death
has always had a way of erasing truth
and replacing it with lessons.
If I am not already
a lesson about my hometown
and how to set things in cement
that were once alive, why would I care
about becoming one after I’m dead?
All I can do is strive to be alive now,
right now, while striving to stay
the hell away from you,
and let today become the past
when I won’t care about any of this
any longer. Today, though, I’m just
passing through. I will forever be
just passing through.
Tag Archives: meditations
I’m just passing through.
You know, at least half
of the people you see are not
people, he says. And it’s not
like you’ll ever understand
the difference — no glasses
can help with that, it’s not like
that movie which only got it
a little right, mostly wrong. I’m
never sure. Not even about you.
I work it out in my head and the clues
don’t add up to certainty. The guy
at the convenience store, he’s not
one of them. Lets me use the bathroom
if I need it. I have to do him now and then
in return, you know what I’m saying?
That makes me sure he’s a human.
A man’s man for a man, you know?
That old this for that, that old scratch
each other’s itch. I’m not sure
you’re real — you never ask for
anything, just hand over a dollar
when you have one to offer. It’s good
to see you here. God bless,
even if you are one of the ones.
I’m not sure about you. God bless.
To ingest cannabis when life
is apparently free of obligation
is to examine the word “obligation”
as it it were a spear pointed at your time.
Some of us can stand there
in front of the spear,
see it coming clearly,
then duck away with little consequence.
catch the spear in both hands
before it can wound,
and fulfill what’s been thrust upon them.
I am neither.
I am of a different group,
those who will automatically step
from the spear’s merely projected path
unless they fear that they can not
avoid it — and if
they can not avoid it,
they do not partake.
This may feel like
to you. If so you do not see
in this one small fact
how much of a life
may be ruled by a sense of
and of even
as a place
of near-certain death.
If I am a temple, I’m tired enough
that the censers won’t light, broken enough
that the congregation fears a collapse,
soft enough that my gospels dissolve on delivery.
If I am a garden, I’m soft enough
to be tilled and planted, tired enough
not to care that it hurts, broken enough that
what is sown might not grow.
If I am a boat, I’m broken enough
to be an accidental submarine,
soft enough to sink slowly, tired enough
to lie on the welcome bottom until I’m gone.
Tired, soft, broken.
No one is supposed to wake up
this way — alive, awake, refreshed;
those are the preferred words.
Nonetheless, I use tired, soft,
and broken because this
is how I begin year 62.
Remember the first book
that ever turned you on
to how you wanted to live
forever after? Do you recall
the letdown when you learned
how wrong it was about how
a life should be lived?
That day when you learned
there are more things
in heaven and earth
than have been contained
in your literature,
when you saw the author
as a monster or worse,
a human; that day when you
put the book aside and said,
it’s my turn to step up and be
star-blessed with wisdom earned
through disappointment. My turn
to write the book that will disappoint
another one at some future time.
I’m reading it now
and I’m not disappointed as you were,
though I can feel how strongly
you reacted to that first devastation —
so much is contained in your literature
that I’ve just abandoned my faith
in my heaven and earth to live
in yours for the moment, turning pages,
fingers crossed, silently praying:
don’t screw it up.
Dream-shopping while odd music plays
in the backroom of the dream grocery store.
My foot tapping — wind droning, hand drum beat
and a strum — is that bandurria or
fado guitar? I should know this.
Should be able to differentiate. It’s
my dream after all. I don’t like my
instruments mixed. Give me purity,
not this wholesome mess of intentions,
though I admit to sustained grooving
as I try to pick out something for lunch
that will do more than just sustain me.
I want to eat something transformative.
I want to consume dream-flesh and become
all that suggests. The music keeps playing
and the counter clerk glares at my dawdling
and prodding about what each food can do.
“Try it and see,” is the refrain. “But I can’t
eat it all,” I cry out to the dream space.
I am beginning to love the music now
precisely because I do not understand it.
It’s evidently too much to ask that the food
be as simple as the music is not. If I am to be
transformed it will be on an empty stomach,
possessed by rhythm, longing for more.
I wake up, humming.
Where is my guitar?
So much to do before breakfast.
Sit and see the things.
All the things.
Make a plan to observe
the best things, the ones
that make for a best you
sitting there pleased
Examine, for instance,
the winter moths still
astonishingly alive, then
think about life in the
concrete, the me music
The things can be harsh
or soft. Sit with them
day or night, sit with
whatever your choice
of time of day or turn
Maybe there’s a dog, maybe
some hawk takes a bird.
Observe the waning moon,
how the night around it
is a shade lighter on one side,
not a comment
on your life or any life,
just the moon being itself
in sunlight’s angled path.
Learn that you
are not the boss of things.
It is good to sit and see them
and learn that things
do not center you, that things
do not even try.
Trying to read
a book tonight
with my name on the cover;
title, “My Story.”
I don’t know
who wrote this but
most of the chapters seem
I hear there’s
a movie being made from it.
I’m sure they won’t ask me to star
or consult me on the script.
Nonetheless, I’ll pay good money
to sit in a theater and watch.
Just me and my Milk Duds, just me and
my giant Coke, just me and some foods
that might kill me. That would be
something, all right. One for the sequel —
a man dies from self-inflicted damage
while watching himself on a screen.
Aren’t you dying to see yourself
fifty times larger than life? Isn’t that how
you want to go — I know I’m good
with it happening that way. It just feels right:
better than dying in bed, better than dying
a hero. When I’m gone you’ll have the fake book
and the lights camera action of the film
to remember me falsely by. Meanwhile,
I’ve got this book to finish and hope
that they cast a better person than I am
to play me. It won’t be hard. This book’s
a good lie, with good bones to work from;
exactly the type of book I’d write about myself
if I were inclined to do so, though I’m not.
I’m better as reader than writer. I’m better
in this than I ever was out there.
The disappearance of light this evening
was a comfort. I’ve fallen out
with the need for engagement, lying here
on the couch with nothing to do
but note every sign of aging
and disabling, no need to hide dismay
or fear. Strangely, I felt none;
it is accounting time.
For once, no feeling other than
a dispassionate summing up.
Outside the feeders have gone night-quiet.
The usual flocks are somewhere
doing the same slow rebuilding
as I am before the light dares us all
to come back into daytime
where every weakness shall be exposed.
Until then? The couch, the thinking,
the steeling of my own wings
for tomorrow’s flight.
and unloved becomes
in our heads and
another’s invalidation shatters
our own experience of
our own validity
them breaking a window
to escape from us
as if we were on fire
translates into us thinking
what we see in the broken glass —
shards, blood, scraps caught
on the points — is an accurate
mirror for who we are
we must close our eyes
to all that
and chant ourselves back
I am not
nor in flames
open your eyes
what did you understand beforehand about
the end of your self. what were you told it would be
like. did you prepare accordingly. did you feel
ready when it came and now that it has come
do you know that your eyes have closed
or are you seeing things more sharply now
that all the trappings of your self
are out of the way. maybe this is how
one becomes immortal. no one else ever knows
you are not gone. you see them mourning
and bang on the Glass between you saying
stop, no. i’m not gone. i can see all better
than before. that’s all that’s changed. i see
you and forgive you, love you, wish i had,
wish i had not. it isn’t jesus land here, nor is it
valhalla or even something better or worse.
it’s just here. it’s being here near all of
the everlasting here and always now
and not being able to be a part of it
or even to be seen. we throng here, all of us
longing to be seen and heard
and you don’t can’t won’t
see us. we never left. i’ve gone nowhere.
you can’t see me and cannot realize
how complete the world remains.
how little has changed.
whatever could you have understood
about any of this
if you had been told the truth.
no wonder someone had to invent heaven
and its neighborhood.
Look at you there: holy,
solid, and still, as if all night
you had been walking the dark paths
of a once-familiar wilderness,
of predation and mishap
nearly piercing you the whole way
— and now you’ve come
to a clearing and are standing there
under the blessing of the moon.
You cannot forget
the sounds that terrified you
but without them
pushing from all sides
you would not be here now.
Look at you, holy:
honoring the howling as holy;
as holy as this silence,
as holy as this light,
as holy as all else.
I’ve posted a rare public note on the craft behind this poem on my Patreon account, if you’re interested.
In New England we stare up at gray,
see no individual clouds, call it
a snow sky. We say, looks like snow.
The forecasts call out exact times
for when it is supposed to start
and we stare out the window and say,
I think it’s coming early, let’s see
if they’ve got it this time. When we
catch sight of the first flakes, we judge
the weather reports and say, nailed it
or looks like they were wrong. The snow
itself could care less about commentary
as it falls. In the end, neither do we. We sit
on our couches and say, too early to go out
and clear the walk, or better get out there
before it gets too deep, or screw it, I’m going
nowhere it’s too damn cold. We stare at the
television as the snow comes down
regardless of our gaze. Welcome to New England,
we say. Don’t like the weather, wait a minute.
We laugh a bit, stare at screens and the sky, powerless
and resigned and judgmental to the end. Don’t like
the weather, why are you here? If you are one of us,
you will sit with us. If not, Florida awaits.
Hoping for a small slow start
to the process, he turned up in any place
he thought he might find it. Slow and small
in bars, small and slow in all night restaurants;
listening to small talk for clues, watching
others taking their time with whoever
was across the table from them.
One of these days, soon, he told himself every night.
He would be ready soon enough. He’d make contact
with another. Watching people in public spaces
from his seat alone with a cup of coffee
or a glass of whisky and his imagination
and no one ever really saw him, none of them
even knew his name — not even the servers
to whom he never said a thing except to give his order
and murmur a pleasant thank you in return when it came.
In Gaia’s defense, there were
which kept us from knowing her
for a long time, the end of
Greek mythology as a driving force
being chief among them;
her fatigue after birthing Titans and Furies
which sidelined her so thoroughly
that her children superseded her
among us for ages,
especially the unkind Furies;
our general weariness
of the holiness of things
we just wanted to sell.