Friday, April 30, 2010


In my life, probably in yours, there are people who depart and return. If these people are truly important, truly special, they often send before them signals to you and me. We know. Often we will not know we know but will instead engage odd behaviors or notice odd things. Later, when that special person departs again, arrives again, that’s when it comes clear what has been going on. My last girlfriend who emigrated to Canada has a house here still. This is the house where we spent nearly five years together. I kept my house and we never officially set up housekeeping but we were partners nonetheless. When she goes, when she comes, looking after her property, my life changes each time. We are friends and spend time together most of these visits she makes. I did not write this poem about her, and as noted this poem was written last year. What is odd however, she came to town today.

This coincidence of poem and arrival, and others like this coincidence are matters of divine anonymity.

I have seen science shows and read science books that declare many flowers are much more colorful and demanding in the ultra-violet range, that this is the range that bees and other pollen spreading insects notice the most.


Sometimes flowers shriek
in white, or red, or yellow
and I've heard colors
beyond violet
especially ecstatic
that we cannot see
but may sense other
ways in heart and soul, like I
sense you coming home.
May 12, 2009 12:09 PM

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My New Role

Listen. If you get plowed up by God, what do you want to bet it hurts? If you get used as fertile ground, do you get to have your name in lights? What about my fame and fortune? Shit.

My New Role

God has plowed me up,
I am furrowed now, seeded,
and feel the stirrings,
rootlets stabbing me
in their search for food and drink.

This is my new role.

May 12, 2009 11:41 PM

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

At The AA Meeting

2001 was the year my girlfriend of two years dumped me, then my mother died, then my father died in July. That same year in October, my former wife also died. Several years before we had started and finished a divorce. We were in a complex situation and it was not a good one, not for either of us. It was not a lack of love between us but we were so not good for each other, not at all.

She had to go bankrupt, for one. If she stayed with me, then we would have to go bankrupt together but without her bills I was solvent. She had always worked. We had always kept separate accounts. This was mainly her idea. She wanted no oversight on her money. She unfortunately did not manage it well. I owed her something like thirteen thousand dollars if I sold the house, we decided. I had paid her other money along the way. She kept her retirement and I kept the house. As a strict financial deal, this left me with the refinanced mortgage debt. She defended this decision against her lawyer who felt that legal precedent would have given more of her bills and expenses to me, but she knew that wasn’t fair. In her love and mine, she could not treat me that way. A few years later she died alone in a Columbus, Ohio apartment I doubt she could pay for one more month. Her sister found her. They listed kidney failure. I still keep a small portion of her ashes.

I am not sure this is even a poem but it is the truth of what happened the evening I found out she had died. I am hesitant to post it. I am not looking for sympathy or whatever. It was many years ago and I long ago settled into my new life. I have had two lovers since our parting, one for two years and one for nearly five. Both of these women are fine and I consider them both friends. I carry the burden of that former life lightly even though it is a real burden. We both lacked courage probably ten or more years earlier when we should have divorced to avoid the last years of our marriage. She should have divorced me as I sobered up in 1983. Perhaps I should have divorced her even earlier when I realized she really might want to have children after all, so I could let her find someone who wanted children too. Perhaps her untimely death and her mental illness could have been avoided. Perhaps such an alternative is not so. What this post is, a tale of the end of a real relationship on the planet between two people who loved each other dearly but not well.

At The AA Meeting

They took you away
dead and gone and all ground dropped
from beneath my feet.
I shook hard sitting
in the formed blue plastic chair
placed in the front row.
Two women I knew
got up from where they had been
and sat close by me
til I quit shaking.
This is what love is, no more,
just simplicity.

May 12, 2009 10:38 AM

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Tomorrow’s Scorpio full moon is a particularly strong influence on my life which has pretty much ground to a full stop at the moment. Nothing much is going my way. This also happens to be a Mercury retrograde period. So for me the heart of the matter (since I am Scorpio) is experiencing emotional challenges and even oppositions (Moon) while my communications (Mercury Rx) will not really help in these matters either. There is a further trouble. The tendency to pop off or be aggressive is present too, with Mars in square to the full moon in opposition to the sun and Mercury.

It would be better right now to not take this shit too seriously. :D Otherwise I might just stay in bed tomorrow. Oddly enough, I wrote this poem last year but it is utterly appropriate today.


Like a tree standing
in the volcano’s ashy
path, like being stuck
on the straight iron
tracks, foot caught, staring,
standing upright still,
like being lynched, lynched
in this day and age, this rude
life takes us, takes us.

May 11, 2009 8:34 AM

Monday, April 26, 2010

Like A Weasel

I am called to be if nothing else, true to myself. I have been in a hurry my whole life, intense my whole life. I also have more than the usual difficulty taking direction as it is offered from the ordinary sources. I am not the fellow next door.

I am not even the mainstream guy in my own fields of action.

The internet has opened up this arena for anyone of any stripe. This is good for me. I get to publish. I don’t have to cater to anyone to do it. I am not expecting anything either. It only costs me time. Because it was a possibility, I got astoundingly creative over this last year and a half. I have written over a thousand poems. I have also in this time written and published over five hundred posts. That’s enough. There is no question I am a writer.

I have yearned my life long for a place in the stream of things. I have it now. It turns out I am not seeking the fame I thought I was when I started learning the guitar. I wanted to be that guy sitting in the front with all of you willing to come and see me. I went through an early deep change and that pried me looser from the world by adding a depth to things beyond my imagination. It gave me a path as I strove to answer the question, “what the fuck was that?”

I wound up eventually trying for some sort of ordinary life but I had to take dope and then I had to drink. I kept to my path, my offbeat path. Along the way I got married but chose no children. I partnered with another man on some endeavors and for six years I strove to break free into an alternative structure, all the while also developing a more mainstream career as a designer for industry. That alternative structure would have connected my livelihood with my spiritual walk, or so I hoped. It never happened. I am not really a peer of my fellow designers.

Then I sobered up through AA and found an arena of service. I don’t need to go on with all this but by the time I came to blogging I was no longer young at all. I have nothing to prove and only do this because I am called. I am who I am.

Like A Weasel

What am I to do?
I think I know what I want
to do with it all
and I try, find walls
too high and wide, no way through,
so I do what can
be done, scurry like
a weasel down the rat hole
to do this thing, while
I live as true as
possible everywhere
else on the planet.

May 11, 2009 7:52 AM

Sunday, April 25, 2010

After I Offered My Life

In AA they ask if I am willing to go to any length. Only then, they say, am I ready to take certain steps. That is the question that arises square in the middle of the spiritual walk. There is a prerequisite, it seems to me. Is the old way of doing things bankrupt? If not, can I offer what remains that is of value? If I hold anything back, this is not going to work. Only this love, she sings, that is all that remains. My principle prayer asks, may I perceive the love I know exists and set aside the rest.

Here is the fire that burns all the dross away. Here is the fire that creates the metallurgy of souls, the tempering and honing of the steel of spirit that shines, that sings, and here is the heat that warms all space and makes of life an eternal and holy work.

I say I am ready. You say the time is not yet.

After I Offered My Life

All is now ready
only the signal not yet,
departure not yet
permitted to me.
I am not given a pass
free or otherwise
and no bribe will work.

So I will sit. I will drink
this tea you offer
as if it's something,
as if a warm cup.

May 11, 2009 7:41 AM

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Flying Above Clouds

I am feeling a little low, a little lonely. I go to my AA meetings and then I remember why I stay aloof, at least in the sense of avoiding intimate partnership with these people. It makes sense in my circle that we are all routinely saved from ourselves because not all of us are sick on the same day. Still – I am a little low, a little lonely today.

I went out last night. A friend of ours is a pro, a blues singer. She has entered a new trio and these guys are really good. They all sing well. I sense that my friend is playing catch up with their musicianship but she has a great voice and knows how to sing, can keep a good rhythm guitar going. The keyboardist is amazing. This puts me in a mood too. He is playing local clubs and he is that good. How steep the slope to the big time – how many people play at such a high level. I am just a dabbler when I compare myself with working musicians. I was among a crowd of people. Most were partners, one gay couple and three heteros. I was at one end with two women I invited along. They didn’t stay long. I was the next to leave, around ten. The trio did a mix of jazz and blues. We ate. This was an Italian place with pretty good food but steeper prices, though modest by big city standards. The restaurant is not in downtown, is out in a local town, the next one north from my place on the local route. They can’t charge like downtown.

It was standing room only. The Ellen Whyte Band logo is well known locally and she can fill the audience with her own fans. That’s what we were part of, all being friends of hers in another context. She has four CDs to her credit and has won local awards for her blues work. Ellen has been doing this for a while now. She is not young anymore, grown kids.

Flying Above Clouds

I followed updrafts
into the clear air above
the clouds. Bright Sun shines
without cover there,
but air is thin and so cold
in that clarity,
not like home, like you,
moist and warm citrus honey,
so I came back down.

May 11, 2009 7:20 AM

Friday, April 23, 2010

Feathered Horses

I have returned from the outer reaches.

My friend is guilty as charged. Of that there is no doubt, but the law stinks. I see him sit there in prison blues with the psychedelic orange logos identifying him as a convict. He is a little overweight, a little puffy looking. He has aged in five years. Lately he has erupted in hives on his right hand, mainly his fingers. He looks for solutions but has not yet found them. I assume he is allergic to doing this much time. He is not yet fully at six years. He is convicted of three counts, six years each. He is not eligible for any reductions for good time, no parole, nothing but straight time served or longer if he misbehaves or is caught in one of the weird twists that can happen in there. He is almost complete on the first count served, but still has two more to go.

I weep each time. This is a good man. He was of value to the community in all other ways and he earned in the six figures for his engineering marketing expertise. Now he is involved in Buddhist and Christian services, tutors the other inmates in a variety of subjects, mainly math, and he directs and sings in musical groups. He has gotten into honors housing and even found a way to cell up with his best friend. When he first got to Snake River he was wise enough to figure out how to pay rent, a mild form of extortion among the convicts, where you pay to have a guy watch your back. If you are known to pay rent then with some care on your part you never get into any beefs with the other inmates because they know you are connected. When he first got into honors housing he stopped paying rent but then some people figured it out and now he is back paying rent but it is reduced by a third.

Jesus. He writes poetry from time to time. He wrote one called Doing Time which was published in a special publication for inmates. He wrote another poem where he pointed out that an inmate he knew convicted of second degree murder was getting out in eight years where he is doing eighteen for a crime that involved no violence.

The journey itself was fine. My car behaved well and I was comfortable enough on the way over. This is absolutely the best time of year for the mountains and hills of eastern Oregon. They are still green. Soon they will dry up. The journey east on I-84 takes one through the Columbia Gorge, carved out when Lake Mazama broke loose and drove to the sea, not once, apparently, but several times. Lake Mazama was a huge inland sea at the base of the Ice Age glaciation in the region. It is worth coming to Oregon just to see how the Columbia River sets in its gorge. Further east the highway drifts south into the flats which are farmed, then ascends into the mountains in a dramatic rise up to Deadman Pass. The highway then passes through evergreen forest before descending again into hill country and winding through eastern high desert. There is one operating cement plant and another that is abandoned and ghostly. Then one hits Farewell Bend and the rich farmland near the Snake River. Headed into Ontario, one goes under the overpass for Stanton Blvd. and off to the west, there is the prison.

I got to Ontario just in time for a big thunderstorm with sixty mile per hour gusts.

We break in mid visit for lunch. I carry food, so I went to a nearby park on the Snake and napped because I knew I was going to push for home straightaway.

My cat is sitting with her forepaws resting on my hand rest, breathing on my right hand while I type. She approves this message.

Feathered Horses

On the willows' verge
are three small feathered horses.

I will ride today.

I will load the two
with an iridescent glow,
saddle the other
with my hope for peace.

I will depart for outer
reaches, still looking
to give you more time.

May 11, 2009 6:50 AM

Monday, April 19, 2010


The next post will be perhaps Wednesday, perhaps Thursday. I am headed out of town, a shakedown cruise with my 2008 Mazda 5. I will go across the state to the eastern verge, to a town called Ontario, next stop Idaho, just across the Snake River. This is Oregon Trail country. Just up the river to the northwest is Farewell Bend, the jumping off place where the emigrants left the river behind to strike for Mt. Hood, Oregon City, or perhaps Stumptown (Portland). You had to go through some rather difficult hills headed west and the best way through was to follow a track leading westerly from Farewell Bend, farewell because you just left good water behind for several days and you might get a little thirsty if things don't go well.

It is better now. Sometimes I camp at Farewell Bend because that's what we do coming to Ontario. Other times like now I will take a motel in Ontario. The point of the trip is to go visit an incarcerated friend who is serving his time in Snake River Correctional Facility. Long term readers will remember me mentioning this part of my life before. This whole situation figures fairly large in my life because the fall out affected my church membership, my lover's employment, and ultimately changed things so much that I think it started the chain of events that led to our ultimate separation, my lover and me. The things that happen to one of us happen to many of us and in my life the events that put this man in prison are very much like that.

My friend has been treated abominably by the law and by that church. That church will never think so. Behind the scenes, the people involved in the law tend to agree with me, however.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Diamonds Everywhere

As you might surmise, this poem records an aspect or two of my heart trouble and its aftermath. I was driven in early May, 2009 by my renter to the local Kaiser facility in the middle of the night. I remained in emergency on a hospital cot for many hours while they made room for me upstairs on the heart patient floor. They gave me morphine and some other drugs, put me on a drip. In the meantime my nerves in my left hip were getting damaged by the cot. Finally they brought down a hospital bed, much more comfortable, but the damage to my nerves in my left leg was already done. From a year ago, they have not come back and in fact got much worse for a period of several months last fall and winter.

Do not go to the hospital frivolously. It may cost you in ways you don’t expect.

They put me on the heart floor and I got a bloody nose that was caused by the oxygen tube drying my nose out and the blood thinner not letting my blood clot. This lasted several hours until I screamed bloody (sic) murder. Finally they prescribed two healthy doses of Afrin and I will forever remember that as an effective tool to stop a bloody nose. The next day they operated, an angiogram, angioplasty, and stent placement in my heart’s lower right artery. The day after, I went home, weak but quite all right. My heart has behaved since. I take a blood thinner, a diuretic, an anti-cholesterol pill, and three different blood pressure pills. I hate them, but I take them.

I think I pay a price of getting more tired than I used to, maybe heart, maybe pills, maybe both. Maybe without this trouble I would be in the same boat. Maybe it is age. However, just last week I was climbing up and down ladders for much of the day, gimp leg and all, so I can still do my work if I must.

I was operated on by an experienced heart man with over ten thousand operations to his name, they said, but it was the second operation done in Kaiser’s theater. They were setting up their program. This operation cost me $200 dollars. You gotta love Kaiser. This is the best deal out there for this kind of trouble.

Diamonds Everywhere

Diamonds in skies,
diamonds on souls of shoes,
diamonds on blades
of green green grasses,
in my eyes and heart, my heart,
slicing my heart til it aches
and I wake up then
with this real bad ache
and call them up...

they say come on in.
My heart
removed, replaced with
stainless steel strapping
and bitter powders.

May 10, 2009 8:33 PM

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Be Satisfied With Who You Are

It is seldom easy to understand what should happen next. I stand in the Buddhist sensibility as much as anything, though my devotions are eclectic. I look at the west and find the power grabbing and the controlling of things offensive. “I am the captain of my soul.” So says one of the cores of the American ideology. I believe this is delusional thinking.

On the other hand it is utterly clear, completely and thoroughly demonstrated that the consequence of the western dynamic has resulted in an easier life for more people on the planet than there have been people on the planet for most of our time here. Unfortunately, it has also increased the numbers of the desperately poor by a much greater amount. The accusations of imperialism were once literally the truth of empire and they remain true in terms of economics. Oligarchies otherwise named corporate structures are far too influential in human affairs. Politics lurks in this and I have no wish to go there.

Instead, I say the heart of the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic complex is evangelical and exploitative, but also dynamic and results oriented. The heart of the eastern religions tends to hold the status quo in place. I believe it is built in to the philosophy and theology in east and west that this is so. There is very much more to be said on such a topic, a whole book in fact, and more. I am not really qualified to write it. Instead I write this inner truth stuff in fairly short work.

That is actually my attention span at work. The other day I revisited chess, a game I was willing to try in my youth but left behind for virtually all of my adulthood. I have quickly remembered why I quit the game. I can be much better at the game if only I am willing to pay attention, but I do not want to. I don’t want to. I really don’t want to.

Another example, I don’t even want to write a book, not really. I did it to get my degree. That’s enough. I can. I know I can. I don’t want to. That’s paying attention to one thing way too long. The only way that can work for me is at God’s command. He so rarely commands me. It’s not about the money, not at all.

Sometimes a lover or friend, or even a stranger, jumps in my shit and hands me something to do. Sometimes I get it and respond with alacrity. These are the commands, God with skin on saying, “do this, do it now.” I am pretty good at following these moments in the right circumstance and most of my life has happened that way, truth be told.

Be Satisfied With Who You Are

Breathing is felt deeper
below the surface, where all
becomes a fleck, foam
floating on the work
of the universe, not my
breathing, not at all,
nor is it my thought.

Delusion and truth are one,
the same ocean shore.

May 10, 2009 12:10 PM

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why I Sang In Choir

I have had trouble keeping boundaries with my expectations of music. I know I have written of this before. In the beginning, as I came into my adult voice I was also a desperate kid looking for something that was missing, something I couldn’t even describe. I could not communicate about it. I had no words. I could only seek, only act out. There were some troubles of long standing with my parents arising from mistakes they could not have avoided making with me. I could easily say they should have done this or that rather than what they did, but how could they have known? How could I have known beforehand either? I had no way to guide them, to say, but this is really what I need.

I was in no way spiritual, didn’t even know you could be spiritual. That didn’t happen until I was twenty-one. What happened first were the high school and church choirs. This led in high school to musicals, dancing, hopes for drama as a college major, barbershop quartet and a madrigal group. That was the period that folk music started to get big and later on I found a coffee house with a group of performers. There was a particular guy named Paul Zeigler. They said of him that he was a guy other musicians listened to. Later he ran his own house down near the San Jose campus and in that place giants of the later San Francisco sound performed there, Paul Kantner did classical guitar, Jorma Kaukonen did his guitar picking country blues, and Skip Spence did his remarkably energetic folk rock. As I said these guys knew Paul Zeigler and honored him.

What I did was haunt the coffee house, called the Brass Knocker, and I learned Paul’s music and phrasing even though I was not good enough to do it on guitar. It was my template to learn from, carried inside me.

All of this was I demanded to become someone different, to shape shift, to get power I lacked, because I was certain that I was going to die without some freaking change. I was absolutely desperate. I had no clue how to really hold a job. My first real job was to serve in the dining room of a facility my church built for retired people. I did okay but I was not getting what I needed out of it and the nagging sense of impending doom was growing.

I had failed in my military service, going to West Point but crashing a month after Plebe Summer, knowing there was no way I could keep going under the disciplinary stuff building up. I was in the Army Reserve and hating it. Not only that, but it was in the way of my wish to be a drama major too. This was just too much.

I had been struck down with meningitis in my required basic training, lost a month to that and fried my brain with the really high fever I almost died of.

All that stuff was the ferment that was behind me when I smoked my first pot. There was no turning back when I started doing drugs, and I consider it true still that drugs quite literally saved my life. I started doing drugs in late August of 1966. By November I was absolutely committed, ready to be a dealer or whatever I needed to do. In January my mother came home from Persia, alerted by my sister that I was on the streets and appeared to be starving to death, which was a fair description, and she got me into a mental facility and started working on saving my ass from Leavenworth because I had just quit the army and was AWOL for several months by then already. She hinged my innocence on the meningitis and she was arguably right. But in my heart I knew it was bogus. The meningitis happened in the middle of the process of despair that had started back really before high school. She may have known that but there was something concrete about the meningitis which was of course a matter of record. She succeeded.

I stopped singing in groups mostly, but I continued to practice on my guitar and tried to become Paul Zeigler. That continued until I hit a wall. I was completely polished in a very narrow band of guitar music and dismally unable to broaden my scope. This is one problem of being self taught. Exhausted, I felt there was no more future. I put music on the shelf from 1972 to 1994. Twenty-two years lost to taking a false start. Since that time I returned to singing in a church choir for ten years, shifting over to an academic advanced choral group called Unistus, a group specializing in Estonian music, where I had the possibility of international travel before me. Unfortunately, I have had increasing trouble with my allergic condition as I age and no longer have the ability to trust my voice at the near professional level I need. So I have retired from group singing. I also have my keyboard work begun in the nineties. I am still hampered with the self taught stuff.

Why I Sang In Choir

The way it was then...
I sang in choir and looked for
you in some other
place because no one
near me would touch me as far
as I knew, except
the few odd ones from
the wrong side of my young mind,
could not see you then,
the way you would bloom,
the way you would know my truth
in some distant time.

May 10, 2009 11:13 AM

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Columbia In The Air

A moment in time...

Columbia In The Air

Things come apart now
hear the rattle and crashing
shriek of hull rending
while my pilot cries
and the others stare amazed
at the glow around
us, the bright deep blue
appearing in widening cracks.

We watch as time ends.

May 10, 2009 10:41 AM

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stretched Between

The Truth of Nonduality

Money coming or going, harmony, wisdom, and health can all turn upon a single thought. With a single thought, poverty can be overcome; with a single thought, disease can be cured; with a single thought, you can embrace and help others. Because mind is infinite, it can embrace the universe and still have room left over. Thus, if you understand the truth of nonduality, you can completely embrace everything. If you raise one thought that is calm, noble, and humble, and do so without any trace of like or dislike, or of "I," then that thought begins to manifest in the world and becomes medicine for all suffering. All energy will follow and work together with this kind of thought.

Daehaeng Kun Sunim, "Thinking Big" tricycle (Winter 2008)

Life's Not Black and White

Buddhism encourages us to be wary of antithetical concepts, not only good and evil, but success and failure, rich and poor, even the duality between enlightenment and delusion. We distinguish between the opposing terms because we want one rather than the other, yet the meaning of each depends upon the other. That may sound abstract, but such dualities are actually quite troublesome for us. If, for example, it is important to live a pure life (however I understand purity), then I need to be preoccupied with avoiding impurity. If wealth is important for me, then I am also worried about avoiding poverty. We cannot take one lens without the other, and such pairs of spectacles filter our experience of the world.

David Loy, "The Nonduality of Good and Evil"" tricycle (Spring 2002)

Here are two passages that illustrate the excellence that I find in Buddhist thought. In the first passage startling statements are made at the end…
“If you raise one thought that is calm, noble, and humble, and do so without any trace of like or dislike, or of "I," then that thought begins to manifest in the world and becomes medicine for all suffering. All energy will follow and work together with this kind of thought.”

That is impressive. Can it really be true? Here is Buddhist magic. The whole point of the discipline from one point of view is to arrive in the world a genuine Bodhisattva, and this kind of thinking is what Bodhisattva does. Of course this kind of thinking does not come easily. I would call it from one perspective, “thinking in the gap”.

The second passage is an illustration of fundamental Buddhist psychology. What impresses me about that is not so much that it is true but that it was known first by Hindus (well, okay, also the Chinese Taoists) several thousand years ago and was clarified in this form by Buddhists in the last 600years BCE. This is old. We have known spiritual keys to our mental process for a very long time.

If you want to break free then this is the sort of stuff you have to reconcile. It really doesn’t matter what your faith is. This is the stuff that blocks the flow of the divine in the human frame.

This is the stuff that paves over the crack between the worlds. The worlds of which I write are the primary two, God’s World, and the world that God permits. Jesus called God’s World the Kingdom. The world God permits is the world that Job (read the book of Job) and we inhabit, where justice fails, love is impermanent and peace is elusive. It holds true however you decide to define divinity. Buddhism is humanist, perhaps, while Taoism and Hinduism tend to theist in diverse ways. The western religions focus in a different way in the mainstream, but in the mystical branches of the western religions, the exact same psychological issues arise. They are spoken of in Christian mysticism, in Sufism, and as well in the Kabbalah. The crack (or gap) of which I write is the way out, or the way in. It is the path the power flows through.

The Hindus say, “Neti, neti.” Not this, not that.

Stretched Between

Yesterday, I hit
the spot, the sweet spot, home base.
I knew I knew, yes!
Fully awake, grateful, graced,
and then with all that, to bed.

The dreams went all ways.
I awoke wondering where my
grace had gone. Not here.
But I am not asleep...not
really awake any more,
but not asleep, no,
stretched between, not this not that.

This might hurt a bit.

May 5, 2009 12:37 PM

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Instant Forgiveness

When I was young, I loved the water. I probably still do, but not enough to go out of my way to find it. In those days I progressed all the way to a life guard’s license though to tell the truth, I wasn’t really good enough to actually be a life guard. That was not about the water and my capacity in the water, it was about my emotional maturity.

One of the best things was diving. I didn’t really get into the high board work but I loved the low board and could do several basic dives, and then half gainers. I loved being able to do half gainers. That dive made me exquisitely aware of the moment of decision. There is a whole set of things one has to do in that dive. Physically it is quite complex because one goes off the board with an unusual direction. It is as if one is deliberately aiming to hit the board, and it feels just like that. The truth is different because one has used a forward motion that continues after the approach. That is why there are a couple steps forward in a dive approach, to gain forward momentum that will continue and take the diver decidedly out beyond the board.

That doesn’t matter to the viscera; at least it didn’t matter to mine. In the half gainer the diver must loop backward toward the board, and there is a time in the middle of the dive where the diver has kicked his feet up while bending backwards. He is in the air basically lying flat with his back toward the water, and then he curls further backward and enters head first. The board will not be in sight. The sky is in sight. My gut told me every time that I was taking a bad risk.

That instinct made the moment of decision really stand out. I realized just before I made my approach that I had almost no time to abort. The only way through was to really try for the dive and that had to happen just before the final jump because my body had to go backwards while I was going forwards and there was no faking it. The whole thing rested on an instant.

So too with any other life decision, these decisions rest on an instant as well. Usually there are so many things happening that the decisive moment can slip past and not be noticed too well. It is good practice to become better aware of them. How about the moment I really asked Ann if she would let me be with her? Or the moment when we knew we were moving to Oregon together? Or the moment we knew we were really going to marry? Immediately after those moments everything had changed.

My friend Erin loves it when I write of the gaps. One of the gaps in things is at the peak of the tiny pause at the moment of decision. The world is one way before, another way after. When does an inhale change to an exhale?

Instant Forgiveness

there's really no other kind,
only how long it takes
to reach the balance
required for hearts to open.
Indeed like flowers
and like the birdsong
not as birds mean their beauty
but as we hear it,
that's how we can live.

May 5, 2009 12:13 PM

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Vultures

When you drink to sleep, 3 AM is bad news. If you wake then and can feel the blow back coming, then you have to drink some more to go back to sleep. If you don’t, the morning is going to suck big time, but if you do then the morning is also going to suck because you will still be drunk at 5 or 6. If this happens it will have been because you didn’t drink enough the night before, but that is unpredictable, how much it takes today is not the same as yesterday. That gets worse the longer you continue to drink after a certain point, possibly because you have hurt your kidneys and liver.

That is part of what it means to realize that your drinking has gone beyond what it was and has changed on you whether you like it or not.

Sober vultures are not nearly so bad as coming-off-a-drunk vultures. These days the sober vultures are largely infesting some other poor sap. I don’t have them so much, hardly at all. In my first eight years they were a regular visitation, right along with that difficulty going to sleep at all. Getting sober after serious drinking is no picnic.

By the way, in AA some will say, if you feel guilty, it might be because you are. Others will say, screw guilt. Somewhere in the middle, that's the ticket. Only half the vultures have the right to perch where they do.

The Vultures

When I wake and it's
3 AM, and the vultures
sit near the dim foot
of my empty bed,
always more than one, lurking,
plotting with a glint
in their mean old eyes,
that's when I know it's going
to be a different
damn day.

May 3, 2009 8:22 PM

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Old Growth Dream

I thought of John Muir and originally this poem was for him. People in California know of John Muir, at least around Berkeley they did when I was growing up. He figures in the story of the Redwoods and the Sequoias, and Yosemite. He founded the Sierra Club, still around today. Read about him on Wiki if you like.

I began near Muir Woods, among other places, near Tilden Park, near the Big C on the hill above the Berkeley campus of the University of California, where my mother graduated and then taught for a little while. She met Stormy Hileman, center/linebacker for the Golden Bears after his duty as a Marine in the Pacific war and married him after I asked him to be my dad. Step-Father. He tried some things while my mom kept her university job, first trying for a slot on the 49ers, playing for a farm team in Pennsylvania, the Bethlehem Bulldogs. He didn't make enough money, tried other things. After a couple years they went off on their post war adventure, both determining to be high school teachers and he later trying for school administration. We went out to the valley then, settling in a small town on the way to Sonora from the Bay Area. There I spent time in fields by irrigation canals. There we raised Siamese cats. My mother taught English at the Oakdale High School, the town we lived in, on a provisional certificate pending her graduation, while my dad taught math and coached football at the Ripon High School on his provisional certificate. In those days post war there was such a shortage of teachers you could start teaching before you got the education completed. They both got their Teacher's license from University of the Pacific in Stocton. They made squat as pay so we continued poor as church mice for several years.

Old Growth Dream

I see it. This place
dissolves you impressively.
This is who I love.

Everything is
pulsing with breath and warm love
delightfully here
while the wing traces
a path through the sky like
deer make in forests.

The winds know, tell it,
I hear their voices far off
and I tell you so.

May 3, 2009 4:20 PM
Retitled April 11, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Meeting The Saint

It is the main problem. There are not enough people in the business. They must be spread too thin. All they can currently do is hold this place, keep it from unraveling in the pressure of all the entanglements the rest of us create all the time, over and over. You cannot recognize the people in the business unless you reach a certain sensitivity but at that precise moment you are pressed into service and must leave the others behind because you are so needed somewhere else to hold this thing together. It slows us all down. After that first meeting, you know you cannot stay this time nor can you ever meet on purpose again. There is no time for that. There is no time to answer your questions. There is no real need in you for the answers anyway.

What you thought you wanted simply does not matter.

The maddening part is this is all in your peripheral vision anyway. You can never be sure if any of it is real.

Meeting The Saint

You walk on water
in your illumination
which visibly shines.
I am struck dumb as I feel
waves of palpable presence.

I know of your own
you could not do this. You ask
and it is given.
That is when you tell
me that should I meet you next
I must turn away.

May 3, 2009 11:20 AM

Friday, April 9, 2010

Intimate Magic

No one has ever had to keep this stuff secret, not on the planet like it is. We call this kind of knowing esoteric. There is a big assumption in it. The idea that this knowledge should stay hidden assumes that people undeserving of the power want the power. There is a major discipline and a struggle that comes with it. It is no longer true if it ever was that people would chase this power. People mostly don’t really believe in magic anymore. We don’t even have a good language for it. so far is it from the kind of reality games we play now.

What has happened to me, I have been forced into power because my weaknesses demand its presence in my life or I do not survive. This is an exchange every recovering alcoholic makes in some way. We mostly devise a spiritual process that keeps the power firmly in the hands of God. That is because so many alcoholics are squanderers of power in any form. However, the disciplines are precisely the same if the consciousness permits. Magic is very near by. The power that permits sobriety is the power that opens the door to the deeper realms.

Now you can ask whether I am writing some kind of weird fiction or the truth as I know it. Is this a distinction that matters? To be honest, I have been interested in the realm far longer than I have been sober. There have been other driving forces.

Intimate Magic

It is not the words
that make the change but how you
can be found so near
or far, deep within
the flow of words, a perfume
released in the gaps
between the constraints
of form, perhaps gathered best
when speaking the words
as one would deeply,
so deeply in love with things.
That's where magic is.

May 2, 2009 9:47 AM

Lighten Up

Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.
-- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Never eat more than you can lift.
-- Miss Piggy

One doesn't have a sense of humor. It has you.
-- Larry Gelbart

I get four quotes every day, sent to my email box, random generations out of the library of all the quotes available on the Quotations website. The above quotes, three out of four, appear to me to tie together and mean something. Generated at random, they somehow relate to the issue expressed in my last post.

I am sure I get along better everywhere if I keep my sense of humor. I believe this attitude I hope to live up to is reflected fairly often in my poetry. Patia asked me a couple posts back if it was okay if she laughed. She meant that question "tongue in cheek". I know she already knew the answer. The subject of my poem seemed rather serious but the end of the poem was oddly humorous. That's precisely what I hoped for, and it commonly arises in my poetry fresh from my creative process when I see no reason to stay serious. I don't think I plan these things. So I am dropping the last quote provided in today's mailing of Quotes Of The Day (about kids) not because it was not good but because this last quote heard in another venue is better in context:

In order to achieve enlightenment, lighten up.
--anonymous, heard at an AA meeting


Okay, I give up. This just in from Tricycle

Big Sky Mind

Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche described panoramic awareness as "a state without center or fringe" in which there is no watcher or perceiver, no division between subject and object. With a Big Mind, one does not view the sky, as eleventh-century Zen Master Dogen said most people do, by looking up at it "through a bamboo tube." Instead, the distinction between self and other is abolished in the experience of the empty sky itself.

-- Rick Fields, "Buddhism and the Beat Generation" Tricycle (Fall 1995)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Today Was Like

May Day, 2009, what that day was like, or at least in those moments that I wrote this poem.

Something has come up that highlights the blogs for me. It is an aspect of the computer life, that I have wondered at for many years now, in many an iteration.

I was once in email AA groups and a girl in the Washington DC area started up with me. We developed a cyber relationship of sorts and while I never really lied or hid my stuff, it turned out that she did, a little. At one point she joined a new grouping under an assumed name and started a new relationship with me. Now she had two relationships with me. After some weeks, when nothing interesting happened she revealed herself and had some sort of reason why she did that. Not long after that I was done with that part of my life anyway.

This blog life is like that. Since there is no real practical way to check, there are plenty of chances to create and put a persona out there and try to live up to it. I know some people are doing that, creating a counterpoint to the life they live. Others are straight up enough but try for far more anonymity than I do. I think I understand, and I keep the confidences that some of you have given me too.

I think for the most part I am playing it straight here. What you see is what you would get if you had me alone in your living room, at least to the extent that I could hold the same conversations we have here. I could take out my hard copy of my poems for that part of the deal. I can talk about stuff pretty close to the same way I can write. I actually hold the beliefs that I express, at least most of the time, if the distractions are not too severe. Or perhaps, I have held them before if not now. I tell you intimacies of my life because I do not fear the stories. Believe me, there are more tender places that I do not share.

I tell you I am fat and old because I am fat and old.

But I am no fool. I know that people can act, can take this blog life and use it as if it was a stage, as if there was something to accomplish. There are others who try to turn the blogs into a pulpit or a forum. Sometimes I think that some people believe they can manipulate this medium all the way to something significant in their lives. I doubt that is true except in remarkable and rare cases, though the manipulation game has its own reward in some ways. For the rest of us, this effort is an amusement.

I am happy to know that most everyone around these parts is not doing that.

I have a world wide readership. It is a very small readership, but it is global. It pleases me. If I stopped tomorrow, there would be no sign of my readership in my life at all. I am sure of it. I am not aiming anywhere at anything or anyone.

What Today Was Like

Tonight the moon looks
like a fat twelve year old face.

All day the flowers
of this sunlit day
were so brightly colored I
would have required good
earplugs had they been
singing instead of shining
in the springtime sun.

May 1, 2009 2:18 PM

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Paranoid Lament

Too many comes the meth head.

Paranoid Lament

I struggle with it,
this make believe lack of trust,
this sense that you are
so malevolent.

I feel it creep up my bones
and curdle my guts as if
you really would kill.
If you could, you would kill me
as sure as God would.

Ain't my weird heart sad?

May 1, 2009 11:49 AM

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The End Of Poetry

I have an agenda. Here it is. Sometimes my orbits are like the effing comets but at the near end of the ellipse is always the Bodhisattva ideal.

The End Of Poetry

I want my poems
to reach heaven's view and say
just everything
so clearly, without
refutation, that lives change
and we all can rise,
grow the angel bright white wings
and I no longer
have to write this stuff.

April 30, 2009 12:27 PM

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Message

If I love like this, someone like this, surely I can love another, love again.

The Message

Today I fell in love
with the message you sent me
and yes, I know not
only me, also
all the others you love like
you love me but still
now you have my heart
handed to you in a note
I wrote in heaven.

April 30, 2009 9:32 AM

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It Is Finished

Yesterday I had to go in and have a back molar pulled. It was capped. This was a tooth that required root canals decades ago. A couple days ago it cracked longitudinally along one root. That led to an abscess. I have Kaiser as my medical and dental, so I had just a few minutes to asses whether or not I trusted this guy over some other stranger I would deal with later. The good news is that I could have it done on Saturday as an emergency procedure. It turned out okay but I am in more pain today than I was with the abscess. It is interesting how much psychology is in this though. Even though the pain is worse, I can take it better because I know what is happening. When it was the abscess, I didn’t know. The Percoset isn’t worth much as a pain killer. I will need tomorrow off from work.

It is odd that a poem like the following shows up next in line during this Easter weekend.

It Is Finished

As I stand upright
on the wall in the middle
of my holy name
I see farther than
all the works of man display.
I breathe cool free air
and ready myself
for the long final journey
to the central fire.

April 30, 2009 9:12 AM

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Punishing God

More than one theologian has remarked on the way man’s perception of God, or perhaps God Himself has matured over the centuries. God growing up is actually an issue with God as He manifests in Europe and the Near East. In the Far East the apprehension of the Divine took a deeply sophisticated form at least from 600 BCE. The Buddhists of that day pointed out that God was not actually required for a spiritual practice to make sense. God at His most mature departs if we wish His departure. That is what makes room for science. Intellectually honest scientists know and admit that the issue of God is not resolved by science. Instead the statements concerning the place of God in things really go more like this:

It is axiomatic in the scientific world view that nature takes the simplest course possible at every point. That is truthfully not very damn simple in lots of areas, for example in biology. The axiom still seems to hold, even with these admitted instances of holding entropy at bay in some local systems. Thus we as scientists find the God explanation for things at least one layer more complex than necessary to explain everything. Furthermore there is the risk in positing a creator God that we introduce an infinite regress into things. This is to be abhorred in logical discourse. Risking infinite regress and more complexity than necessary does not rule out the existence of God, whatever that may mean. Instead it reveals with clarity that the idea of God lies outside the scope of science.

The rest is politics on both sides.

The evolution of God in the West is an interesting story that involves the demand that God enter history or else God makes no sense. He must really manifest concretely on the planet. This demand is different from the older human concept of God as manifest in the before time, the Golden Age, the world of the ancestors, in the world of myth. Even Jesus made this distinction when he spoke of this world and of God's World, or the Kingdom. Christian church, the kingdom of the saints, is an attempt to honor this distinction by drawing apart as befits the Children of God. A God in history must evolve, just as we do. History is by it's nature evolutionary, going someplace. Christianity demands Eschatology, a theology of the culmination of things. To have God actually present on the planet as He is in the story of the Jews, in the body of Christ, in the life of the prophet, is to have a historical God. Such a God can indeed change, grow up.

The Punishing God

I stood up right then,
where you said God sends disease
as retribution.
I would fire a God
like that, and go hire someone
on the divine list,
waiting for a job,
promising to do better
than that teenager.

April 29, 2009 12:36 PM

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Follow The Curve

What is it I heard? The Large Hadron Collider is up and running and they have sent protons (hydrogen ions) into each other at energies three times as large as ever before. That kind of energy is not found very many places in the universe now but is in the core of stars of all kinds, perhaps, near black holes, or in them, and most especially very near the time of the big bang. They have already collected years of data, so many people are going to be very steadily busy, searching for things never before recorded. You can’t say seen. We do not see anything. All this is far too small for that. But we can record the events and their aftermath and see in the data around the invisibility corner.

Imagine that. We are creating events and recording the aftermath of things that happen smaller than the amplitude of light waves. Thus they are not visible because they really are too small. Light misses these events in the wiggle of its own waves. We have to use electrons and other smaller things to measure and record what happens. Their amplitudes are not too small. Then we use translation programs sometimes to simulate what we could see if we could see using these other particles (waves). The data is more useful in other ways, much of it going into computer analysis.

Apparently there was a break down and they had to repair stuff earlier when they first started up. This is only the beginning. They are tuning things up. The energies achieved will be greater than this. Hooah! I've been waiting since the fifties...

Follow The Curve

If I fall this time
will it be along Newton's
old straight track smack down
into the planet,
or shall I go with Einstein
along the long curve
of space time, perhaps
miss everything local
and find my way out?

This might take some work,
some heavy incantation,
a wee bit of help.

April 28, 2009 1:13 PM

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