Monday, May 31, 2010

Stranded At The Bus Stop

I will bet I first used the image of “waiting for the bus” as a part of my spiritual walk back in the seventies. My first big image was how I snuck into the mansion by the back door, the one used by the legitimate servants. I was not a servant, not appointed to any position. I just got in, perhaps even a thief. When you spread your spiritual wings out far enough to see the larger landscape, you discover many stories told quite seriously about this. There is a role for the Thief in the Kingdom. Prometheus stole fire for men, as an example. He paid the price but also is still remembered as an essential player in the realm. Hermes is the God of Thieves. Thieves have a God. The First Nations have a figure, perhaps Crow, or Jay, or Coyote, who displays this kind of trait. Hermes is not only a support for thieves, he is the Messenger. This means that anyone who aids in communications has a relationship to thievery through Hermes, the God of the Message. That sobers me up a little. These poems steal as well as standing as gifts.

I snuck in the servant’s entrance. Along with that, I say I made a decision to prove a point in an argument with God, why I have come, but how I got here, the bus let me off and I have been waiting ever since for it to come back and pick me up. I am sort of deflated. I think I will die waiting.

Stranded At The Bus Stop

I sit on this bench
here at the bus stop waiting
hoping for the bus
to come and worried
if this transfer is still good
or now out of date,
too old, me too old,
so even if the bus does
come it won't be mine.

June 2, 2009 9:16 AM

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Feathered Fan

I do have a baroque feathery purple fan in the central place on my mantel. This fan was left behind by one of my lovers and I cherish it. This woman had flair for the dramatic and for ritual. I would say love games but love was never really a game. Lovemaking was sacred for us. It should be, although love can also be play. I treat my fireplace mantel as an altar. I have pictures of my ancestors there and Indian bronze sacred statuary is placed among the pictures. A Garuda bird, the mount of Vishnu as a result of promises made and kept, is above the fan in a mirrored glass cage with an open door. This Garuda was cast in bronze shown with a snake in its beak. Garuda is a lesser but essential God in the Hindu tradition and is the implacable enemy of serpents, both sacred and profane. Among other Indian serpents are varieties of cobra, and a protector who defends us from cobras is a very good idea. Garuda is there above the fan as a protector of the love that was infused within it.

The Feathered Fan

You took your feathered
fan and stroked my back gently.
When you left I placed
my life on the shelf
above the banked fire you set
in my drafty house.
Now I contemplate
my shape there on the mantel,
wonder if I fit.

June 2, 2009 8:38 AM

Friday, May 28, 2010


Near the end of our marriage, for some fairly good reasons, my wife decided she couldn’t trust me to be on her side. It apparently didn't matter to her that she was a depressed, despairing completely non-functional alcoholic at the time, who couldn't get out of bed most of the time. Part of that transformed me into a violent man. I don’t mean that I was really violent. I mean that as far as she was concerned I was a violent man. Pretty much everyone in my life thought this exceedingly absurd.

Even now I have no way to explain all that but I have more than one time been burdened with the false impressions that others hold of me. There was another time when a small group of people considered me a predator on women. There is a man not in my direct circle but nearby who still thinks of me this way and that whole thing took place in 2003. He has never seen anything sufficient to change his mind. Interestingly, the women in my group all disagree as far as I know. I have no idea how to rectify these things. Once they get started they have a life of their own.

This poem is a conflation of several moments in my life rather than a description of one specific experience.


Aw Hell, and it was
me just a little angry...
Damn! Just somewhat hot.
There you go again
taking things so hard, so mean,
as if I would strike
you down like he did.

I'm just an old teddy bear,
all three hundred pounds.

June 1, 2009 12:32 PM

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Life With Fairies

I have too much imagination. When I was a boy, my dad tried to reign me in. He thought I was too speculative on one hand and too excitable on the other. My wife thought of my dad years later that he walked around with a cob up his butt. I could not disagree. He was stiff and stern and lacked humor in many situations. Actually, he lived with pain in his back. He was a football player in his youth, nearly made pro. He might have had he remained single. He was given the opportunity and a slot on a San Francisco 49ers farm team, but they paid very little in those days. He had a family to consider. He chose to pursue education as a career instead. He was left with back complaints partly from the impact damage. Later he found out he also had an odd back with one extra partly fused vertebra in it. That didn’t help. He also had strong opinions about right and wrong.

He was not much for fairies of the winged variety. He was live and let live as far as I know about gays.

Life With Fairies

I have too many
fairies, a population
explosion of pests-
always asking me
the impossible, that I grow
wings and play with them.
Then they punish me,
tease me that I can't fly
like they do. My heart

May 31, 2009 10:01 AM

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Song Of The Fairy Ring

Quarks are bound in all but the most extreme temperatures and pressures, and these extreme states are found nowhere outside of black hole event horizons, if there. Here is the trouble with the magic imagination. We can imagine things which violate the fundamental states of matter. I suppose that God can violate the fundamental states of matter by choice at any time. It also seems that He seldom does. He appears to have made a covenant with creation to play by the rules. It would be very difficult for true magicians to succeed where God chooses otherwise.

These cool holy days – days in which the temperatures and pressures of the original state no longer exist.

And yet, and yet how shall I make peace? I seek out the stories and find myself wanting fairies. I want elves in the sense that Tolkein conceived of them. I used to hope for visitors from space. I have never been able to conceive of them as dangerous and cruel. I read an article one time about the total impracticability of war on the interplanetary scale, let alone the galactic scale. I believe that too. So you guys, please come and change everything. That of course is the real yearning, if my world changes enough, maybe pain and suffering are no longer required. I believe in magic because I have to.

Song Of The Fairy Ring

If I fell through you
would I end up anywhere?

(As if this question
leads somewhere I wish
to go or falling like that
would go way out too.)

It is a matter
of quarks bound as they all are
these cool holy days.

May 30, 2009 9:34 PM

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Whole Life

This is a poem of an arctic annual, as if my whole life takes places in one short season. There is no time to waste. It all happens now. There is no time. There is no waste. It all happens. Now.

My Whole Life

With seasons so short
what can I do but rush on,
then here you come like
a sweet soft rain. Mist
is no burden to my twigs,
to my tiny buds,
to the pale green fronds
that feed me in this season
that is my whole life.

May 30, 2009 7:53 PM

Monday, May 24, 2010

Saying It Straight

This is a poem about writing poems, I guess.

Saying It Straight

I have some good news,
not that no news is good news
(while elsewhere they say
such a thing often,
I won’t.) Instead I shall say
it straight: even here
in these made up words
you shall find the elements
of deeply true things.

May 28, 2009 12:41 PM

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Calling You

When I read this poem today, I don’t remember who I had in mind writing it. Behind all, lurks God. I think perhaps I am luring God back, as if He is really gone infinitely beyond space and is not also infinitely near.

But mostly today I have thought of my mother. We both agreed this was to be the last time around here. We both agreed in those days (she passed in 2001) that reincarnation is the best guess for a perfect justice to happen on the planet. People get a raw deal or too sweet a deal otherwise. We both agreed in that context that this was to be the last time around here. My experience is precisely that.

Since Mom has gone on her way I have had no signals of any kind that she stayed around. She is thoroughly gone. Others early claimed some communication or presence and that may have been true, that she had business with them, but she did not with me.

There remains the possibility that the poem is fiction, that I didn’t have anyone “real” in mind when I wrote it.

Calling You

If I had voice strong
enough to reach beyond space
I would tell you why
you could now come back
to my odd neck of the woods,
to sit with me one
more time, laugh with me again
here by our old fire.

May 28, 2009 12:14 PM

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Long Path

My former lover loves a good hike. I felt like our relationship was one long trek through the wilderness. In fact, she gave me the best vacation of my life when we went to the Canadian Rockies. She had an idea what she wanted out of that vacation. We spent most of our time in the forested mountains in the area of area of Banff and Jasper but also in the Canadian Glacier National Park. My best day was in that park but only just, since there were so many good days. She decided that she wanted to live in Field and I sort of mark her decision to emigrate from that vacation. We hinted to each other that we would return to the resort that was built on the lake beneath the Burgess shale formation. That sounded to each of us that we were headed toward a honeymoon. We never made it back there, never made it to the marriage either. We hiked around that lake. On the back side, there was a territorial fly of some sort who decided to defend its territory from us. It buzzed us all the way across that swampy area in the back of the lake. When we reached a certain point that fly abruptly stopped bothering us. Guess that was the end of its territory.

I could not go to Canada. In any case, I was not invited.

The Long Path

Ah, a blank canvas
to smear my ink on,
to say anything I want,
to remark how fine
you are in the wind
with all your long hair streaming
as you scan your land
and step past the end
of the long path we once shared.

May 26, 2009 12:29 PM

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fancy Footwork

This poem is fiction in its way, or from long ago and far away. I don’t have anything like this in my life now and not for years if ever in this lifetime. I have fallen before, several times, but I have never needed to keep my lover's hands in sight, or at least I have never known I needed to.

I hooked into dancing in high school. I was doing musicals and thought it was a really cool way to handle women’s bodies with care and firmly. We were very fortunate to have good choreographers. I loved the idea and my musical ability let it happen for me. I didn’t have the slender body for a serious career and I never really learned the patterned dances, but I definitely can, or could follow music with my legs and my body sway and my arms and all that. I did get trained a bit in ballroom dancing a couple times in my life but not so I remember any but waltz and chacha, and them not much. I have loved to dance throughout my adult life, but I married a woman who wasn’t enough into music for us to get that going on. I suppose that she would have put up with it had I insisted.

I remember being very high once at Fillmore West in San Francisco. I don’t remember who was playing that night but I was tripping on acid and dancing. The thing was, I was able to anticipate the band well enough that I put on quite a show of spontaneous choreography. I am quite sure I heard people remark about how good I was once or twice. I didn’t have a partner. In those days at that kind of place you didn’t have to have one. That was in 1966. I was just twenty one.

Fancy Footwork

I have learned fancy
footwork going past your door
how to duck and weave
and place my hands right-

would ask for a dance with you
except I need your
wild hands in plain sight
while I look in your crafty
foxy eyes and fall
into your cavernous

May 23, 2009 10:36 AM

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Distance Between Us

Here is something all aspiring sorcerer's apprentices might do well to remember:

"However smart we may be, however rich and clever or loving or charitable or spiritual or impeccable, it doesn't help us at all. The real power comes in to us from the beyond. Life enters us from behind, where we are sightless, and from below, where we do not understand. And unless we yield to the beyond, and take our power and might and honor and glory from the unseen, from the unknown, we shall continue empty."
- D. H. Lawrence

This poem was written a year ago, thinking about my friend Jozien, who lives with wilderness just outside her door:

The Distance Between Us

To think, you atop
the mountain, in the bright air,
the noon heat, the time
and the space beyond
the weary places I'm found
staring at brick walls,
my breeze coming from
the fan I brought in to move
the stale office air.

May 22, 2009 9:50 AM

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What She Told Me

I was not tracking the flow, so this poem surprised me and seems a really fine follow up. As an object love is fragile. If we make love too special, it’s a trap. As a space it is like the ocean. The blood plasma is very close to sea water in many respects. When creatures moved out of the sea onto the land it was only because they found a way to carry the sea with them. And consider this, sea creatures became creatures by finding the way to bind up the ocean inside them. Love is like this. Successful love makes it difficult to know where we begin and end and thus reveals both the beginning and ending of life itself as bright stars of consciousness in the spaciousness of love.

What She Told Me

What we glorify, distracts.

See love’s heart up close,
closer than my gaze.

Believe love so fragile
that it cannot be grasped,
only touched by the breath.

Believe it so immense
that we all live in love
like creatures in the sea,
often forgetting the water.

May 21, 2009 3:16 PM

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grasping For Straws

The biggest heartbreak in my life was when I realized that just because I had seen made no difference, gave me no privilege, offered no shortcut.

The Buddhists claim that the point of the practice is precisely a shortcut built into the scheme of things. They claim that otherwise there is a really long path, measured in uncountable lifetimes. With the shortcut, it is remotely possible (though highly unusual) that the job is done in one lifetime. On the other hand most of us can’t do that even if we want to, even though the shortcut is there.

As usual, there is responsibility and accountability. I am responsible and accountable for the risks I take or refuse. Ignorance is indeed no excuse, and there is no excuse for ignorance. There are so many resources now.

Well. That lacks compassion. Of course ignorance excuses, but it doesn’t change outcomes. Resources are no longer scarce but distribution really sucks.

I hide in beauty, hide in love, hide in things. I trap myself. What can it mean to hide in love? I want to believe that love is the answer. It is not true. Love is not an answer, it is an open space. There is no place to hide.

Grasping For Straws

I am not now whole
and have never been as you
say. You ring the gong.
Too much fear and pain
for that, too much chasing dreams.

I hide in beauty,
hide in love and things,
attempt to make them all last.

There is no secret,
slow progress only
because there's too much grasping
for straws in the way.

May 19, 2009 12:53 PM

Monday, May 17, 2010


There is always a price to pay, always. I have written before on this price - the cost of things – the sacrifice. It appears sacrifice is a central feature of the spiritual walk. I hate that. I am not sure why I hate that but I know it is my task to demonstrate something connected to sacrifice, to lay this work on God’s lap. I came into this life to do the work of gathering the case, just like a lawyer. I will not make the case this side of death. I will not settle things before I pass.

If I were to say it today, I would say there is entirely too much pain on the planet now. To increase or extend the pain for any reason, even holy sacrifice is not right. I know all the way down to my soul that things cost too much. The cost of living is too steep. If I were to say it today, that is what I would say, and I don’t mean it personally because my life is not so painful. However, I am immature yet and I know that I am making an immature case. I do not have enough information, though I know I am not the only one to come to such a realization. Buddhism for example says all life is suffering, the First Noble Truth. That is too steep a cost. Christianity says Christ chose to die for my sins. That too is too steep a cost. I will die for my own sins as is my obvious duty.


I squat by the pit
filled with coals, ready to walk,
to prove my freedom
from the pain of things.
You whisper to me the chant
I must speak within
my heart as I walk.
I still myself. Coals glow red,
so do my sore eyes.

May 19, 2009 9:20 AM

Sunday, May 16, 2010


If I am outside my comfort zone I become painfully shy. I also lose my eloquence. I am not in my comfort zone at work some of the time, most of the time with some people. I lose my eloquence in critical moments because of it.

(By the way, this has been a wonderful day, like the first real day of summer. :oD )

When I look at breathtakingly beautiful women I know they are only for my viewing for they are far above the likes of me. This has always been my truth. I know it is not really so but I have no real way to break my impressions of my life here. Now that I am older, I really do know better but now I am too old and fat. Oh well.

I live with confidence in most ways. People who know me only by sight and presence at AA where I am comfortable think of me as tremendously serene. People at work think of me as amusing and a little tedious when things aren’t going my way. I have a reputation for accuracy but not for speed in getting the work done.

Beneath the “serene” surface of the swan on the lake the little feet are just churning away unseen. This is my brain on life, just churning away unseen.

Groucho said he could never join any exclusive club that would actually have him as a member. He could not approve of such a club.

I am not looking for denials of my attitude. You will know if you reflect any length of time that I have been living with it for over fifty years, that I have tried this and that and even laid it on God’s altar, even in His lap. I have done every fucking thing and it persists. So unless you are a true magician or exorcist there is no suggestion to give. Most of the time my attitude is of small account, basically right sized. It does not get in the way. I am almost never fired from my job, only one time. Many people like me. I get the job done. I know how to love a woman. I have it on good authority. I’m not doing so bad. I some ways I actually have more trouble with my arrogance.

Even so, this is an honest poem.


I hesitate to
touch your skin, suddenly shy
of how you will turn
and look in my eyes,
perhaps to send me away
so far that I will
never find my way
back to this green oasis
in the sandy waste.

May 18, 2009 3:32 PM

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It Always Comes To This

How am I to reach beyond my capacity? Any mastery, any at all may have something of that reach in it. I have turned away more than one time when I actually grasped the monumental size of the task. This is one circumstance where ignorance may genuinely be bliss, but it is bliss that cannot last. One becomes conscious at some point along the path toward mastery and then the shit hits the fan.

I have written several times of my turning away from music. It is frankly true that I left music behind in 1973 and did not return to it in any form until I discovered while keeping time to the radio in my car that I was anticipating rhythm of the jazz well enough to syncopate creatively to music I had never heard before and I have never trained to do that. This completely blew me away and still does. I don’t know where it came from but I guess it had something to do with getting sober and staying that way long enough. It had something to do with the healing involved in that. It also had something to do with no longer having anything to prove long enough. In other words, it may have had something to do with growing up. As well, there is the spiritual factor, that I am under a discipline of sorts, have been since 1967, and after decades it is actually working.

I would not have really returned to music without back up. I gave it a start, but it was not until my last lover entered my life and pulled me in that I really began the re-entry. She was capable of that pull, unlike anyone else in my life because she was in many respects a better trained musician than I am and my peer in so many other ways that I could not see her pressure as manipulation. It was obviously love, several kinds of love, and not least for music itself.

The point of writing about this is to look at the reason that I stopped back in 1973, why for some time before I was losing momentum rapidly and the heart had gone out of my love for playing music after six years of intense daily practice. I had reached a wall I couldn’t break through. I realized that not only was I going to have to learn a bunch of new stuff from the bottom up, the only way for me to do that was to unlearn much of what I had mastered. I was in a trap of my own devising by pushing forward as I had. I realized all the way down to my soul this was so. The task was just too big and too unfair after so much work. I knew I couldn’t do it. See what I mean about becoming conscious? That's what happened. I woke up and it wasn't pretty. My motivation had always been screwed up. I created my own failure in that way.

I knew I couldn’t do it, not what had to come next. No. I’ve always known I couldn’t do it. I lost heart for the dependability of the power flow from beyond that supports this kind of activity. I lost my trust in the benevolence of the universe for my work. Without that trust I could not believe. Without that faith I knew that I not only couldn’t do it, I no longer wanted to. I suffered terminal discouragement. I had worn my guitar out. The frets needed replacing. Instead of fixing my guitar, I put it in the closet. I quit singing. That was that.

I had no comforter.

Lack of trust: no one can master anything without it. If you have to jump an abyss farther than you can jump, then you must rely on the universe to supply and span the gap in power. What if it lies just a little bit beyond? Most mastery is like that, just a little beyond. The work is doable but the immensity is daunting. If you are too self centered about the work, it will fail because the necessary power is beyond self.

This is also the reason that alcoholics cannot sober up.

It Always Comes To This

You have given me
the reach, the yearning for sky
and hope and truth, dream
of a way beyond
the chasm of my longing life,
a short leap, you said,
though it looks wider
than my best running long jump.

I wish I had trust.

May 18, 2009 1:20 PM

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Mirrors

There really is something out there. This must be true or else science wouldn’t work the way it does. At least I choose to not view God as an elaborate trickster down to the nth detail. Scientists are permitted while doing science to totally ignore the God idea, not as a matter of faith in the idea of not God, but instead faith in the idea that resorting to the assertion God did it stops inquiry. There is nowhere further to go. Nowhere further, you must not go there, has been a part of the debate over the centuries. Scientist have the faith that they can and should push to “go there”. They have the faith there really is something out there and that it is worth looking at, that there is something more to find out.

But there is more. Both the science and the experience of mind tell us firmly that our boundaries are pliable and do not hold still. We are difficult to map. The breath for example reaches beyond the skin and so do the bio-energetic fields. Some are sure the mind reaches farther than that. It is difficult to decide where our edges are. In fact there are definite overlaps in families, such that my boundary may actually extend into your insides in some real way. This takes place not only with family members. A good hunter often will claim that he has bonded with the prey animal or else he could not find it.

Finally there is this projection thing. I know under the right conditions, and once doing drugs was one of the conditions for me, that I am a psychic broadcaster. Another name for this is charisma. In other ways I call myself a weaver. It is music but not only music. I may do that here sometimes. That’s when it is effective and useful. As often, projection is more difficult. The traditional psychological definition is projection happens when some part of me is difficult and uncomfortable and I wish to not know it about myself, so I put it out into the world and pin it on some person, place or situation that fits the projection tolerably well. If I do that with very many parts of me, then the world begins to fill up with myself in weird ways, perhaps so full that really all I am seeing is me. That is an awkward state of affairs. It is also one aspect of what the Eastern Religions mean when they assert that we live illusory lives if we do not use some discipline to break the illusions. They assert the projections and other devices we use to adjust to things renders the "out there" that we see almost completely blanketed with ourselves, making any genuine observation basically impossible without a great deal of work. There is always a hidden personal agenda though not always the same one.

That is why scientists use a formal method and peer review so that even the geniuses like Einstein had to accept peer criticism. It is also why Newton actually spent much more time on biblical study and prophecy than his science but his science is so much more impressive. It was accessible to agreement where his prophecy is not. That is also why spiritual seekers enter a discipline, and often a community, why the self taught are dangerous and may be deluded.

The Mirrors

It is difficult
when my insides spill over
like this...what is true
then, really out there,
a vista, or a mirror?

I wish for answers
but fear them as well.
Long ago mirrors were cold
and I froze to death.

May 18, 2009 12:29 PM

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Absent Tea Master

The tea ceremony is a deeply spiritual undertaking in Japan, home to several kinds of Buddhism. The Buddhism of the Pure Land and its Buddha is by far the most common, but we know of Zen better here in the west. There is at least one other kind. In some ways you would think you were in a Christian church if you attended a Pure Land ceremony. There are churches of this kind around in any city with many Japanese. As far as I know, tea ceremonies are central to all Japanese ways, including Shinto. It is easily possible that a Japanese Samurai would defer to a tea master.

I rarely drink anything but water and a little sparkling water. Even tea is a bit much for me any more. Soft drinks are completely beyond my scope except once in a great while. I have a tonic concentrate I take in water, this twice a day. The Zip Fizz I can get at Costco – sometimes I will drink one of those too. Oh yes, when I remember and it feels right I will take a packet of gourmet hot chocolate and drink that.

I would be happy to sit with a master and have a cuppa.

The Absent Tea Master

The Tea Master has
wandered off into the world
to contend with things
showing us the way.
When it is time to pour, pour.
When time to work, work.
The seasons come, go
with equanimity, so
shall we come and go.

May 18, 2009 10:23 AM

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Woke Up Today

Sometimes I am just not myself. I may be a little weird. In fact there may be moments when I am full blown batshit. HooHoo…ooahhahhahhah…

I’m all better now. Or not… At this time last year I was still echoing from that three day hospital thing where they put a flexible cage of titanium wire inside my heart’s lower right artery. Holy crap! I’m a bionic gray squirrel, a tree rat, as it were.

I Woke Up Today

How odd to come to
sitting in a seedy tray
wondering, where next?
I have some strange bugs
on me and a curious
hankering to scold
someone, anyone
who dares mess with me today.
Maybe if I place
myself upside down
on that tree with tail twitching
I will feel better soon.

May 17, 2009 12:01 PM

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


It is said of Merlin he lived backwards. The Buddhists say of reincarnation that one consequence is everyone has been everyone else’s mother at least once. This is the reason for not stepping on bugs. You crush your mother. Crows are spirits. So are butterflies.

The elves have departed middle earth for the lands of the west, but elven blood is still part of our heritage.

(Did you hear? Scientists are now claiming that Neanderthal and Sapiens could in fact interbreed and did. Many of us have a variable amount of Neanderthal DNA, between 1 and 4%. They have typed the Neanderthal genome from bone fragments of three 40,000 year old Neanderthal women in order to figure this out. We interbred mainly in the Middle East, it is said.)

When you paint your face and begin the dance, try to remember where you come from and how ancient your soul. Do not fall victim to your supposed inexperience. Do not claim you do not already know. Look deep. There within is the chanting of your former selves, the gathering around the primal fire, the awakening of the ancestors, and the praising of the Gods. Behold your elven kindred. There within is the counterpoint to the way the day has gone, the way your life has gone.

Kindred is rooted in very old words, kin- (exactly the same but also the child or children as in the German kinder) goes all the way back with cognates on every side of the Indo-european spread, though in oldest German one of the cognates is chun-, Latin and Greek is gen-, and Sanskrit is jan-. -red goes back to Old English, thus before 1200 AD, from raedan, meaning to rule, advise, guess, read. Thus to rule or read the child, to measure the lineage. Kindred is an ancient word, rich and dripping with the experience of the human species, like a juicy cut of aurochs or mammoth. In the poem, another old word, hang and hung, a different way to signal the past - hang and hanged (new), hang and hung (old). This is how it changes.



But crow still flies true
and releases one long call
to remind you where
you belong. Mirrors
don't hang well on those warm walls.

What we have hung there
are pictures God drew
of us when we were older
than this strange young world.

May 16, 2009 10:19 PM

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Pearls

I will never take love lightly. I never have. However, when I was younger I was unable to match my true devotion and the possible. I wound up married, in a relationship I settled for after becoming convinced of two things. First I was convinced that I only really fell for people either not healthy at all or at least unhealthy for me. Secondly, I was convinced that God had presented me with a real alternative and said, “Go here.” I did not say such a thing to Annie, and rightly, because this was a private thing between me and God. However, I was gambling on the same sort of long term thing that is part of arranged marriages. That would be where the people in favor of the marriage will tell the reluctant partner(s) that they will grow into true love. That actually happened in the practical ways.

I am in love with romantic love. I love it when I can sense the Goddess behind the woman. I am not sure that works for marriage, not over the long haul, but there is no better way to transform the world for a time from the mundane to a world filled with sacred possibility. It is a source of genuine power as well. There is even a Path called Tantra which harnesses the power of Eros quite specifically. I have not entered that path, though I came close one time. I am not afraid of that possibility. I have experienced both the long haul and the fire. I know the fire can last at least two years. I have been there twice in my life. When the fire is in my life so is heightened psychic power. My poetry in its present form is a direct gift of the fire that burned in my soul from 1998-2001.

The Pearls

I heard you say love.

When my heart changed in the force
of love I left home
on a sea journey
to the outer banks of life
in a small wild boat,
in faith I will find
you when I get back with pearls
I string on the way.

May 16, 2009 10:05 PM

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sun Dappled

Yet again I am going to present with a quote from tricycle, from a writer who practices Buddhism. It is a perfect counterpoint to yesterday’s post. Yesterday I got about as “political” and judgmental as I ever want to be. I find it very difficult. I don’t believe the solution can be found in this kind of thinking, at least no solution I am interested in.

I hesitate. I seem like a Buddhist when I quote professing Buddhists like Jack Kornfield. This is like if I post Randy Newman’s lyrics about short people it would seem that I agree with them. If I post so many Buddhists, I must be a Buddhist. The truth is more diffuse. I have these quotes appear in my email box because there is so much of Buddhist thought that I do agree with, that fits my experience. However, there is much that I find difficult too. I have several books on my shelf – well, strewn around my house is more like it – on Buddhism. I try to read them and cannot. I can only take my Buddhism in small doses.

I find it much easier to chant Sanskrit to Parameshwari, to Parabhrama, to Shivaya, to Ganapatiye, to Vasudevaya, than to sit in Buddhist silence. I even find it easier to invoke the Divinities than to chant with the Tibetan Buddhists, “Om mani padme hum.”

I need Gods and Goddesses or my insides parch.

On the other hand, I am not fair to myself if I don’t also add in the years of listening to Christian radio that I did on the way back and forth to work, listening intently to make sure I was true to myself in separating from the church of my youth. I listened to gather the arguments and apologies, postures and analyses of the Christian life. I had my favorites then, a certain local Foursquare preacher from Beaverton, Ron Mell, who taught me the most about Christian compassion, Jimmy Swaggert (he on TV) for his true passion for his work (he is as rock and roll as his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis), Charles Swindoll for his suavity, his avuncular approach to the message, Pastor John MacArthur for his austerity. All these men for a variety of reasons avoid many of the parts of the Christian message that stop me in so far as this is possible. That made it possible for me to look forward to their sermons.

Still, there are times when Buddhist messages delivered in well chosen small doses cut to the quick of things and center in my heart. The mix of serenity and compassion in them is beyond compare. This next message, as I wrote at the beginning of this post, is a perfect counterpart to my last post about Dread People.

Challenge Your Whole Identity

True dharma practice is a revolutionary activity, and you can't do it in a comfortable way. You really have to challenge the whole identity of your life. But the strength that's asked for is not necessarily the strength of eliminating the impurities of body and mind, or fighting against the defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion, the inner corruptions, though this language is very common in Theravadin, Tibetan, and Zen Buddhism. The strength that's needed is the courage of heart to remain undefended and open, a willingness to touch the ten-thousand joys and the ten-thousand sorrows from our compassion, the deepest place of our being. This is a different kind of fearlessness, which requires as much or more passion and fire.

-Jack Kornfield, "The Sure Hearts Release"


Sun Dappled

Living in your shade
gives me a smaller vista
than I thought I'd have.
The sunny part works
while the rest of me takes naps,
wishes for a wrap.
I hear munching near
and begin to worry some
that my edges soon
will be food for thought.

May 16, 2009 8:54 AM

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dread People

I knew a lady many years ago who insisted that the world was full of NARPs. “Not A Real Person”. My wife Annie called them pod people after the science fiction movie about how the alien replacements grew in cocoons and slowly the human race was being replaced. There were others of whom she complained they walked around with cobs up their butts, making other people pay for their discomfort. I presume the cobs were stripped of kernels and were dry before they were inserted. Here is my version. I think these people are filled with dread.

We are called to love them. This is good for the soul. Heh.

Oh yes, I borrowed the first line from a song by Randy Newman which asserts "short people got no reason to live". That lyric has stuck with me.

Dread People

Dread people got no
reason to go on but they
do, just plod along
maybe at the mall, yo
maybe 'round the block, taking
time as if they had
all the time they need.

May 15, 2009 2:58 PM

The Short People song is mean. Here it is. Probably it fits Dread People better.

Short people got no reason
Short people got no reason
Short people got no reason
To live

They got little hands
Little eyes
They walk around
Tellin' great big lies
They got little noses
And tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes
On their nasty little feet

Well, I don't want no short people
Don't want no short people
Don't want no short people
`Round here

Short people are just the same
As you and I
(A fool such as I)
All men are brothers
Until the day they die
(It's a wonderful world)

Short people got nobody
Short people got nobody
Short people got nobody
To love

They got little baby legs
That stand so low
You got to pick em up
Just to say hello
They got little cars
That go beep, beep, beep
They got little voices
Goin' peep, peep, peep
They got grubby little fingers
And dirty little minds
They're gonna get you every time
Well, I don't want no short people
Don't want no short people
Don't want no short people
'Round here

The song reminds me of M. Scott Peck's book People Of The Lie.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Glade

I don’t know if it is the meds or my heart, my age or just this stage of my walk on the planet. I am not working just now and my rhythm has shifted. I go to bed around midnight, get up for an hour or two around three in the morning, go back to bed, get up around seven in the morning, go back to bed around nine, and then get up around eleven. Hmmm. Half the time I also nap in the afternoon. When I wrote this poem I was staring at the wall in my cubicle at work.

I sit under a transformer that hums. Part of this wall is a fire door, set up to slam shut against an active fire should the heat rise enough to melt the clip that holds the cable holding the door open. The tan fire bricks are five inch high and about a foot long. They are eight inch deep. In other areas of the plant I sometimes use the height of the bricks to estimate how high up some pipe or other piece of stuff is if I don’t need real precision.

I have taped up on that wall a variety of things I have found amusing in the past, like the cartoon of the convict digging his way out of prison. We see him in his hole just about to dig through to the cess pit under the outhouse. Oops. Some days are like that. Under my name tag at the other end of my space I have asserted: “Some days it just doesn’t pay to gnaw through the leather straps in the morning.”

The Glade

If I had a choice
right now, the tan fire brick wall
in back of this desk
would change into space
and I would find me in air
greened by the small glade
grandfather planted
just for the wide mesh hammock
where the breeze came by.

May 15, 2009 9:31 AM

Thursday, May 6, 2010

When I Was Seven

"Samsara literally means "wandering-on." Many people think of it as the Buddhist name for the place where we currently live. But in the early Buddhist texts, it's the answer, not to the question, "Where are we?" but to the question, "What are we doing?" Instead of a place, it's a process: the tendency to keep creating worlds and then moving into them. As one world falls apart, you create another one and go there. At the same time, you bump into other people who are creating their own worlds, too.

The process can sometimes be enjoyable. In fact, it would be perfectly innocuous if it didn't entail so much suffering. The worlds we create keep caving in and killing us. Moving into a new world requires effort: not only the pains and risks of taking birth, but also the hard knocks - mental and physical - that come from going through childhood into adulthood, over and over again."
- Geoffrey DeGraff

What an intriguing vision, that we repeat the passage through childhood into adulthood over and over again, that this is the stuff of life's passage, only to have it dissolve and that forces us to do it again. I can hardly argue whether this is a symbolic statement within a single lifetime, or it is the larger statement of life after life. This is the stuff of my life but described in terms I might not myself actually use without Geoffrey's prompt. When it goes well there seems to be a certain joy in it. When it does not go well then there is much pain. The Buddhist comment about it is twofold, an ancient observation.

First, that even the pleasure parts will eventually turn out unpleasant, either because the natural drift of the experience is into pain or because if pleasure is repeated enough it cloys and clots and becomes ultimately painful. Second, there is a procedure and a path that eventually escapes this longer round of seeking pleasure and ultimately finding suffering. The Buddhist way out is considered to be a short cut but it is not often the case that any one of us gets free in this lifetime even if we could choose the full blown effort of striving.

For myself, while I do not doubt the basic Buddhist vision of the human predicament, I am not sure that the shortcut is the right path for me. I am also sure that the longer passage also leads to the same place. To me this sounds from the outside looking at Buddhism as the Buddhist version of if you don't do it this way you won't get there, in that sense not dissimilar to the Christian assertion that we cannot find salvation without accepting the sacrifice that Christ made to atone for us. Both of these feel suspect to me, because they are exclusionary, when I sense that the real divine deal is inclusionary. I do not mean to demand anything or criticize anyone. I am just saying. I am also saying that I have cast my fate on refusing to follow paths as they are presented to me if I sense this kind of exclusion in them.

I feel the sacred work itself is a sifter, that I can yearn for and even work for a universal inclusion that permits a wide variety of parallel journeys. Not many will follow anyway, not at this time. That's what all the masters have always said. The road is ultimately quite narrow. When Mahayana Buddhism came up with the Bodhisattva ideal a way to see all this was offered the world: I refuse my way out until you can come and want to and I work for that, not by insisting that you do anything but by myself refusing to separate until it works out. If it takes forever, so be it. I understand that if you take the shortcut then you may hover nearby in sacred space and also do this work, perhaps with even more power and precision. I assume this may have happened already, many times. It is not my path. Not in this lifetime.

In the meantime, there is this argument with God that is my appropriate mantle. This is the cloak I wore coming in and it would be an impolite form of littering at the least to discard it here. I shall carry it with me as I go. Loving you, and arguing with Him, that's my ticket.

Seven is the Catholic age of reason and marks the age (I believe) that you can take communion. It marks something, anyway. Seven years is also a lunar quarter moon in the Ages of Man in the astrological cycle of an ideal day for a year. The 28 day cycle repeats three times and completes a human life at 84 years, which is the Saturn ideal transit cycle also and marks one complete revolution of Uranus almost perfectly. These numbers are also Hindu life stage numbers. From 56 years to 84 years are the sacred path years. In them, one retreats to the forest, releases all worldly goods and takes up the begging bowl. From 28 to 56 are the years of social engagement. The first 28 years are the years of maturation.

When I Was Seven

I remember that
way of waking into new
worlds alone, sneaking
out to see what's what
before anyone else is
awake, then going
places I am not
supposed to, knowing if I
get back fast I will
not get in trouble,
and the glory I have seen
belongs just to me.

May 15, 2009 9:04 AM

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This Comes From The Pills

I was angry with the side effects of the pills. They have loaded me up with three different blood pressure meds which approach the issue of my moderate high blood pressure from three different directions. I typically run at around 120/68 now.

I take a statin to keep the cholesterol low, this even though my cholesterol numbers were low. The reason for this is there is one vein in my heart that was 60% blocked. They said that taking this statin might actually reverse that situation. I want it better because this vein is too small for a stent. That means a fix is a bypass and that surgery is not nice.

I also take Plavix for thinning the blood, but it is time to get an appointment to check up on my heart work. I probably will cease taking the Plavix. On this day I felt the pills were in the way of my contact with my own soul.

I no longer feel like that.

This Comes From The Pills

You tell me to look
and I would if I were true
but I have dials
in my aching eyes
that have twisted toward lies.
Tatoos on my face,
oddly tribal have
marked my road to confusion.

This comes from the pills
they make me take now.

May 14, 2009 2:16 PM

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Getting The Picture

Our Deepest Well-Being

Our society provides no curriculum or schooling on how to notice love or to recognize the many people who have transmitted its life-giving power. Most of us haven't been taught that to receive love deeply and transmit it wholeheartedly is a real human possibility, that it can be learned, and that to do so is the key to our deepest well-being, our spiritual life, and our capacity to bring more goodness into this world.

-John Makransky, 'Love Is All Around' tricycle, [Fall 2007]

The theme of the poem below, written on my mother’s birthday last year (may you rest easy, Hypatia, in that far land to which you have gone) corresponds well with the complaint in the small piece above I came across today in my emailbox. I did not write the poem to describe my inner state but to complain in my way as Makransky does in his. I am these days fundamentally at peace even though I am aware that my life may soon become far more difficult. I sit here right now, writing this post as if it is the most important thing. I feel just like that, that I am doing what I should.

There are secrets, powers, pathways to pursue. There are truths that shine with inner light. When the world turns, very little of today’s demand will remain significant. I am happy my stinky old cat was alive again this morning, that I could get out of bed with only a modicum of difficulty, that there is enough to eat, that as I am told the Oregon rain will keep things green and blossoming all around. I just saw the house finches in my feeder. If I needed to I could go to California or Vermont, starting in less than an hour. I am confident of my power, my place in amongst the real things. I ask again of this day,

May I perceive the love I know exists and set aside the rest.

Getting The Picture

Corner spillage piles
slow us down, narrow alleys
turn and clog like this
in forgotten lives,
lost lives overfed in place
of love, fatty lives
aching, short of breath,
seeking for the one true cure
as if arteries
held open with stents
would allow a recovery,
let me see my God.

May 14, 2009 1:00 PM

Monday, May 3, 2010

Doing The Best I Can

Here is a heart attack poem. Sober as a heart attack is kind of an odd phrase. The first thing they give you is enough morphine to feel it, really feel it. I don’t know how sober I was. Later, after the angioplasty and stent placement, they gave me a generous dose of dilaudid. Hoo boy! I can take or leave morphine alone, actually don’t really like it. Back in the day, I really really liked smoking tar opium. Not only does it work just fine, it tastes oh so good. That’s what that slug of dilaudid in my IV felt like. Yes indeedy. Oh well. I am

Doing The Best I Can

As I lie here all
tubed up, all wired, feeling drugs
swelling my old veins
I remember you,
how you said the real wisdom
is joy, happiness.
You called me to stand
upright in grief's gray light then
and now in the sour
red light of my pain.
I am not happy, not wise
but I'm mild mannered.

May 13, 2009 9:08 AM

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Almost A Poem

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the Serenity Prayer though he may have borrowed unconsciously on forms of prayer that were around in Christian circles. There is a whole sequence of dates listed in the Wikipedia article on this matter and it is useful reading for anyone interested, as most AA members might be. As a matter of corroboration, I have read in another source I found in Portland’s AA central office bookstore a similar version of the same history. The Serenity Prayer is indeed just the few lines normally attributed to it:
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

There is a longer version but it was published much later and was written in 1953 by a man named William Spence.

Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA, apparently got hold of the prayer and introduced it to AA in 1941. Niebuhr may have put it into a sermon in 1934, the prayer beginning to circulate as early as that. Obviously it was circulating prior to 1941.

The basic idea and similar form has been around for centuries. These other forms are different enough that the catchiness of the Serenity Prayer itself could have been copyrighted had Niebuhr seen any need to do so. I wonder what it would be like to have something of mine turn out like this. What if something of mine became so widely known, with many millions of people saying it daily? How would my life change? Would my life change? I think questions like these are worth asking but really stupid to try to answer.

My dad had very little patience for hypothetical questions because he fancied himself a real practical man. He would correct me in that manner, telling me to quit those questions. I think of myself as full of fantasy and fiction. I know I am not so practical. I get to ponder hypothetical questions all I like.

Here is one of my versions, written as dated last year.

Almost A Poem

Without acceptance
there's no place for me to stand.
Without truest grit
there is no way I'll go there.
Without deep wisdom
I cannot find you at all.

This too is almost
a poem.

May 12, 2009 12:34 PM

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Chase

You know who you are. This is definitely written as a response to another poem. That poet put me in a state. I love what happens. It becomes almost effortless to write a poem that feels right. It is as if I am reliving a memory, as if it is current. I can feel the fleas.

The Chase

Pepper heat stops me,
washes my eyes, nostrils flare,
I snuff the earth, search
for that trace of you
as my fur lifts and I scratch
my hide, ready now,
ready for you now.
I lope off trailing the scent
you've left just for me.

May 12, 2009 12:49 PM

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