Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Orchids And Butterflies

"...for happiness is above all a love of life. To have lost all reason for living is to open up an abyss of suffering. As influential as external conditions may be, suffering, like well-being, is essentially an interior state. Understanding that is the key prerequisite to a life worth living. What mental conditions will sap our joie de vivre, and which will nourish it?

"Changing the way we see the world does not imply a naive optimism or some artificial euphoria designed to counterbalance adversity. So long as we are slaves to the dissatisfaction and frustration that arise from the confusion that rules our minds, it will be just as futile to tell ourselves “I’m happy!” over and over again as it would be to repaint a wall in ruins. The search for happiness is not about looking at life through rose-colored glasses or blinding oneself to the pain and imperfections of the world. Nor is happiness a state of exaltation to be perpetuated at all costs; it is the purging of mental toxins such as hatred and obsession that literally poison the mind. It is also about learning how to put things in perspective and reduce the gap between appearances and reality. To that end we must acquire a better knowledge of how the mind works and a more accurate insight into the nature of things, for in its deepest sense, suffering is intimately linked to a misapprehension of the nature of reality."

From Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skills, By Matthieu Ricard, 2003 NiL editions, Paris. Translation, 2006 by Jesse Browner

It bears repeating:
"Happiness is above all a love of life."

"Happiness is both the purging of mental toxins such as hatred and obsession that literally poison the mind and it is also learning how to put things in perspective and reduce the gap between appearances and reality."

And again:
Now you cannot say you do not know what happiness is. Happiness is the practice of loving life through the careful purging of toxins, through the careful gaining of perspective, and carefully moving from the appearances of all things into the reality behind them.

I have said so three times.

Orchids And Butterflies

I sit here in gray
aftermath to the heat wave,
faded heat and sky.
I listen to new
music while thinking of you
in your own summer
made of northern lights
and the urgent rhymed display,
orchids, butterflies.

July 6, 2009 2:08 PM

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Lifetime

Where we stood, once, on the shore of a long time dream

Who you were once, standing windblown on that lake shore in the time before this one


This is an old and familiar love.

A Lifetime

I lie where I can
touch your breasts as reminders
of those days and you
permit it, my old
familiar touch when it comes.
I hum low and deep
in my baritone
as I caress these deep dreams
reaching to the start
of things for us so
many years ago, decades,
in this timeless day.

July 6, 2009 1:46 PM

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Like A Melon

I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can't
you can't you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don't write
- W. S. Merwin

I would add to this. Writing is for me a practice. It is not enough to write when you feel like it, to dabble in it. You write far beyond that point, forging into the murky regions where your will falters and you must rely on something deeper than that. It is not about how good you are, not about how much the public will care, not about your place in the long line of wordsmiths on the planet. Writing perhaps leads to such things but if they are primary there is an inherent end to the road. Write for the love of words. Write because you must. Enter the practice of writing, knowing the path it reveals is one that lends substance to your life though it may lead nowhere. Because you write, your ghostly presence on the planet solidifies. Your life will be filled with grace along the way. Now return to this question: “how can you ever be sure that what you write is really any good at all?” Of course you can’t be sure. You can however realize that it is the wrong question and stop asking.

Like A Melon

Today I arrived,
broke open, revealing how
ripe I have become
in years of waiting,
years of silent cries, yearning
after the promise,
hope waxing, waning
waxing again as you stirred,
seemed to look at me.

I, like a melon
have been thickheaded to your
knock until this day.

When you rapped, I sang
out my ripe red fruity song
and here's my display.

July 5, 2009 2:24 PM

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Gentle Forbearance

The first aspect of patience is gentle forbearance. We may be the exhausted parent of a child who is having a fit over some baffling homework; perhaps patience in this case means taking a few deep breaths instead of yelling in frustration. Or we may be on the verge of making a brilliant retort to a coworker, but we hold our tongue rather than say something hurtful. Even though our impatience is triggered, we can tap into the deeper reservoir of our motivation not to do harm. Gentle forbearance may feel difficult-even contrived-because it doesn't constitute true acceptance of how things are. But it is nonetheless a critical aspect of patience because it helps us restrain ourselves long enough to determine the most skillful action for the moment.
- Michele McDonald, Finding Patience

For me, the most intriguing part of Michele McDonald’s quote is that it is part of a three-fold offering that develops a path, a process. Saying “patience is a virtue” may not be enough for those of us who wish to develop patience. Here is a three step process that passes through achieving acceptance and then reaches true patience. The primary virtue of patience is that it is a principal step in healing anger.

The process has the following three steps:

Gentle Forbearance, which leads toward acceptance
Endurance of Hardship, which prepares for acceptance
Acceptance of the Truth, which establishes the back story of the incident.

The implication is that reaching true patience involves each of these steps, though the actual process may be unitary if one is skilled in the practice of patience. I really love having access to a tool like the understanding of a three step process through acceptance to reach patience. Note that acceptance is actually about the back story, the understanding that every situation has a cause that extends into the past beyond the present moment and the present participants, and the achieved patience is about the present moment.

If you wish to explore further, click on the provided link to Michele’s article and her further suggestions for followers of Buddhism. It appears that Michele has based her teaching on the work of Shantideva, an eighth century Indian Buddhist scholar and a current major resource in the practice of Buddhism. The name “Shantideva” is a Sanskrit compound that loosely translates as “the Divine Soul of Peace”. He apparently went by the name, Shantivarman, which uses the Sanskrit surname honorific “Varma” and translates loosely as “Master of Peace”.


It is the blessing of those who love to say all is well.

It is the blessing of those who are loved
to feel the weight of love and wish to rise
that they may carry it lightly and with joy.

So burdened with blessing
we are ever mirrors, in loving one to another.

July 5, 2009 1:01 PM

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Serious Question

There are serious religious arguments about the subject of this poem. Christians, Jews and Muslims would answer in some sense yes. Buddhists would answer in some sense no, but as a matter of service, then yes for a really long time. Hindus and Taoists would suggest it is just not the right question at all but in the end illusory, just wait and see, because you can wait, life after life and eventually, sooner or later, you will see.

I wrote this poem on Independence Day, last year.

A Serious Question

If I was of one
mind, would it be my one mind?
Questions like that hurt
my brain with sudden
uncertain strokes of soggy
gloves right smack across
my neurons naked
in the heat of mental things.
I have no idea.

July 4, 2009 4:55 PM

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Three Word Challenge

This critter appears to be meditating. I am pleased to think that a spiritual life appears among the four-footeds. If it is not true, then it ought to be. There is something to the relations of them to us. Aboriginal spirituality in general includes our spirit connections to animal spirits, mainly for good, and often for healing. First nation people often quest after an experience that reveals which animal spirit is primary in their spirit lives. Astrology associates beings with signs, like the Ram with Aries. As a Scorpio, I am associated with the Peregrine Falcon, not only the Scorpion. Witches have their familiars, spirit creatures through which certain visions and powers are enhanced.

"What good, what lasting good is there in me? Is there nothing else between birth and death but what I can get out of this perversity - only a favorable balance of disorderly emotions? No freedom? Only impulses? And what about all the good I have in my heart - does it mean anything? Is it simply a joke? A false hope that makes a man feel the illusion of worth? And so he goes on with his struggles. But this good is no phony. I know it isn't. I swear it."
- Saul Bellow

I am breaking my rule with this poem so I can add a reference to this post on the Three Word Wednesday site, one of the many places where creative writers gather to share the craft. This is one of the most amazing gifts of the Internet. Writing is a solitary activity. The ease with which writers gather dynamically with one another now that the Internet permits it is a brand new experience on the planet. It is highly likely to have an impact over time that we can associate like this. My rule has been to publish the oldest poems first, and I am still in July of last year. This poem I wrote today as noted at the bottom.

A Three Word Challenge
(use abstain, halo, prayer, in a poem)

Two syllable words,
a triune group, a challenge,
how do I get there?

How from here shall I
use the word "abstain" and not
place it next to me,
withold myself as
you asked, with all perfection,
earning a "halo"
and wings and the right
to kneel in "prayer" as if
I have found myself?

August 26, 2010 8:43 AM

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Walking The Land

While this photo does not accurately picture an arctic forest, it is beautiful and is my current desktop.

This poem I wrote in honor of my friend Jozien who lives in Mendenhall, in Yukon territory who goes into the wild quite regularly. Jozien lives on the edge of wilderness, at a wide spot on the road from Whitehorse to somewhere else. There is not much there other than a few neighbors. At least that is how she describes it as she does on her blogs. You can touch her world on my blog sidebar, Keeper of Wild Places, she calls it. I wrote this poem about the many hikes she describes.

Walking The Land

The ancient lake bed,
the still more ancient island,
all the mosquitoes,
even the swallows
all say you are so lovely
as you walk tall, strong
in the summer land
of your adopted country,
thus blessing us all.

July 3, 2009 11:01 PM

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


How do you like these little guys? I stumbled upon them.

Love as a balloon aloft, love as a sloop, a fine sailing ship, good images, I think.

This is the ImiLoa a sloop that berthed at the time of this picture in one of San Francisco's marinas.

There are differences in the rigging that distinguish a sloop from a cutter. Perhaps there are differences in the rigging of love as well.


When your flames lift wild
and soar as balloons, as some
do, reaching great height,
I have no choice but

That means that I must embark
and take my place here
on this sloop, a ship
not for fools but for lovers
nonetheless. True frames
are provided here, shaped
to fit the way lovers bind
each other closer.

July 3, 2009 11:33 AM

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chanting Under The Eagle

This is the picture that my friend Jozien posted of a young eagle she saw up close the other day. For her blog try this: Juvenile Eagle While you are at it, she does nice outdoor work and I can recommend her archive and other blogs. She lives, married with a nearly grown son in the Canadian Yukon, in a wide spot in the road named Mendenhall, near Whitehorse. She's a Dutch immigrant to Canada and a good friend of mine because of the blogs.

Here is a poem I wrote about a yearling Bald Eagle, one of a pair. We had gone on vacation to Orcas Island, where my lover’s family had property and a small trailer. On this day we took her canoe out on Mountain Lake at the east end of Orcas. We canoed clear around the lake, heading north and then turning east at the north end, then going south to the dam at the south end of the lake. While we were headed south on the far side of the lake a pair of yearling Bald Eagles appeared overhead. They split and one went to our east side, the other to the west side. As we continued, the east eagle was perched on a tree limb but flew off as we neared him. We saw the west side eagle still perched in a dead tree. We continued down to the dam at the south end and returned on the west side.

We saw that the eagle was still in the tree as we approached and I got the idea at that point. I told my lady that we might try something and I then led her in a chant, “Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya.” This is a famous 12 sacred syllable chant honoring the God within us. We chanted low key, soft sounds as we paddled, careful to avoid too much noise of any kind, moving slowly and steadily. It worked. That eagle did not move even though we were only fifteen feet below him. His brother or sister (her?) was long gone out of site. The eagle cocked his head and gave us the eye as we passed, completely interested in whatever about the situation was holding him. I think it was the rhythmic quality of what was going on.

In any case, I felt completely honored that the eagle trusted us, blessed in every sense of the word.

Chanting Under The Eagle

In the green canoe,
paddling Mountain Lake, one end
around and then down
to the other end,
trees overhanging the lake's
rocky cluttered edge,
and in this one tree
giving us the cold sharp eye
a yearling eagle
holds court, permitting
us to pass under. We chant.
Shanti, shantihi.

July 3, 2009 10:05 AM

Saturday, August 21, 2010

To My Child

I chose not to have children. I have written of it before and of the "reasons". The real business lies deeper, I think, and all the reasons belong at a shallower depth. I don't know why others take this tack in life and I don't really know why I did either. I don't know except to say it is all a part of some divine agreement, a complex list of what to do and what not to do that intertwines and interlocks.

I have never regretted this, at least not that I know, and neither have I gone out of my way to seek children out. The ones who show up in my life I almost always enjoy thoroughly, and I have often been told I would have made a good dad.

When I was in my early teens, I was one of the kids who could play with the younger kids, throw them around and all that and have great fun. It was high school and puberty that awakened me to my destiny in this regard. I have never stopped being able to fool around at the little kid level if I get the invitation.

To My Child

Sometimes I think on
how you have not come into
this world, not near me
at any rate, stopped
by my agreement with God
made so long ago.
I am far too old
to undo that deep a choice
for my solitude.

Jul 1, 2009 12:28 PM

Friday, August 20, 2010

That's When The Sun

Life is far more strange and even chaotic than we prefer unless we have developed the taste for the strange and chaotic. The ups and downs can be far too strong. I know that part of what drives the civilizing process that is the long history of our race is the demand to control this side of life and render it less. We wish to tame life in other areas as we do in the fields. We are fond of parks, of course and of tamed wilderness, and less fond in the main of the raw experience of wilderness when we are just another creature in it. It is not quite so friendly a place when we think we could end up someone’s dinner, even though through our efforts, that is the main experience they have of us, that we are dangerous and unkind and incessantly grasping and selfish.

Despite our efforts, life erupts as it did for me yesterday in the death of my small part Siamese companion, my familiar since 1991, killed accidentally at my own hand. I am thus rendering the verdict of the four-footeds, a consistent message, that association with the two-footeds is fucking dangerous. That is why so many stay away from us. We think we pay no price for this kind of treatment of the planet and the planet’s children, but we most certainly will.

I have been feeding birds for quite a while now, mainly House, Purple, and Goldfinches. It took most of a year before the winged ones found and trusted the source. My renter in the back yard has also put out food now and is receiving some winged ones. I am not surprised at the slow building of trust and I hope that the winged ones will not assume their welcome extends from our places to others nearby as a matter of course. We humans are often untrustworthy.

I have a friend who declares that his epitaph will be “But he meant well”. That’s about right for some of us. I fear even that lies beyond the aspirations of others on the planet. Perhaps we can rise above ourselves as we go on our ways. It is not enough to wish for better relations with things. We must practice, I think, have the courage to fail and resume immediately if we can our striving.

It may go better if we accept help from our familiars and from each other, not only from God but from God-With-Skin-On, whether the channels are two-footed ones or four-footed.

That's When The Sun

I thought my joy gone,
taken from me as summer
takes spring and fall takes
summer, as drought takes
rain, I thought my joy dried up.
That's when the sun broke
my bones open wide,
light roaring out of my eyes,
when you said to me,

June 29, 2009 12:45 PM

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Laying Stories Down

Here is another shaman’s dream. I wish it was that easy. Lord, I really love cherries. Thank you for thinking of me.

Laying Stories Down

I shall tell stories,
give them vivid gilded shapes,
colors beyond ken.
I shall lay them down
among the cherries you picked
off the neighbor's tree
and spread here across
your kitchen's wooden table.
I shall fit them in
precisely with no effort,
bruise not one cherry.

We will change your life.

June 29, 2009 12:24 PM


I prepared for posting the above before my day changed in a huge way.

I ran over my cat, Lynne Redgrave Cat. She was 19yrs, 3 mos. I killed her basically outright. She ran and hid behind a hedge next to the front door and died in minutes. She had taken to the bad habit of laying in the driveway, even on the sidewalk in front of the house. She was old, half blind, and significantly deaf, though she could hear better if she cared to. I was distracted and didn't think of her. She was not in an obvious place but I don't think I looked. I have been in the habit of moving her, but not this time. I am a hurtin' unit.

I couldn't keep her in the house because she quit having good bathroom habits in 2001.

I stopped everything, got my renter's attention (a long time friend who keeps two cats in the studio apt she rents from me) and we buried her in the back yard. We both cried openly. That's just how it is for me. Lynne came into my life in June of 1991 with her sister Vanessa, who died years ago. In the last year, she would partner with me when I sat here at the computer, taking over my mouse hand and accepting just about any body rub I could give her, hard around her ears, under her chin, up and down her neck (that one often got her hind leg going like a dog's). She would lay next to me in bed if I let her and next to me on the couch when I watched tv and ate my dinner. I would have loved her to have good habits so I could keep her in. She smelled bad and rarely cleaned but I could tolerate that. It is just that she shit on my rugs and peed there too as far as I know. I made a home for her in the garage, where she lived in the worst of the winter.

I think she no longer really cared, why she lay directly in the path of my car, and I am relieved that it was me instead of someone else who got her. Shit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Winter's Ice

I find humor and pathos very close together sometimes. This picture of a shore bird (probably photoshopped?) is so evocative that I laughed outright for a long time the first time I saw it. It seems to depict an oil spill issue. The pathos in this humor is of course that this bird (if the photo is real) will probably die. The caption is perfect. "Fuck it. I'm going home." Perfect.

And as in the poem below, this bird is overloaded with weight. Next, here's Saul Bellow:

"And now here's the thing. It takes a time like this for you to find out how sore your heart has been, and, moreover, all the while you thought you were going around idle terribly hard work was taking place. Hard, hard work, excavation and digging, mining, moiling through tunnels, heaving, pushing, moving rock, working, working, working, working, panting, hauling, hoisting. And none of this work is seen from the outside. It's internally done. It happens because you are powerless and unable to get anywhere, to obtain justice or have requital, and therefore in yourself you labor, you wage and combat, settle scores, remember insults, fight, reply, deny, blab, denounce, triumph, outwit, overcome, vindicate, cry, persist, absolve, die and rise again. All by yourself? Where is everybody? Inside your breast and skin, the entire cast."
- Saul Bellow

In that passage, Saul Bellow illustrates how the shadow works, how perhaps even destiny sometimes works. He points out that weighty things go on beneath notice for a while before surfacing. Often then I will carry weight in confusion, not understanding, even misunderstanding where the weight comes from. It is likely that when I wake up at 3 AM to the buzzards who surround my bed eyeing me hungrily and whispering their dark messages, that these dark moments are authored in the shadowy work going on within me. It will be better for everyone when the work manifests in the light and I then can deal with it honestly if I have the courage. There is always that. I am bent and fear a broken back.

Winter's Ice

These days I notice
certain evergreens have changed
because winter's ice
weighed them down. No one
has figured out how to put
them back in their place.
They bow as if God
was near blessing them,
as if they needed such boon.
I feel the weight too.

June 29, 2009 10:47 AM

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Angel's Flight

I am sitting here in an idle summer’s afternoon. I sit in the cool of my house while outside the temperature has reached into the nineties. In the background, Deva Premal is singing

Gate, gate,
Bodhi Swaha

I ponder on this yearning to be "gone, gone, truly gone, beyond into the essence, gone beyond, salutations to the wise who have gone beyond".

This is a Buddhist chant, one of the most famous. I dream of the meaning of these things.

My heart settles into a rhythm that calms me and lets the cares of this day fade. In the quietude I feel the rustle of wings.

The Angel's Flight

The blue angel flew.
The air awoke at her touch
and began to spin,
glowing spiral clouds
running before and behind
her flight above worlds,
all the tangled worlds
she passed in wonder, amazed
at the small flightless
folk who groaned below

and her tears, bright lights, began
to fall like fine rain.

June 27, 2009 4:28 PM

Monday, August 16, 2010

Half A World

I confess to deep feeling. The Hindus make a yoga, a wisdom practice out of devotion. It is called Bhakti Yoga and is a true Path. It is among the deep needs of our destiny not only to find a true Path but as well to find the style of our journey. This is like choosing keyboards over guitar (a personal version) or like choosing poetry over deep painting. The Path in this way makes a difference. Devotion as a Path is much like the deepest commitments to a child, to a life partner, to finding a “soul mate”. Shanti, shanti, shantihi (peace, peace, most merciful peace). Bhakti yoga is not everyone’s Path. Thankfully, there are other yogas.

Half A World

All so far away,
might as well be galaxies,
at least half a world
to you from where I
sit trying to gather in
the essence of you,
of your passage through
days and days.

I look at what
you have left behind
for me and from it
claim I'd know you anywhere,
if you called my name.

June 27, 2009 8:43 AM

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weaving Light

"The word "compassion" generally inspires suspicion; it designates what is considered inferior, second-rate sentiment that has little to do with love. To love someone out of compassion means not really to love.

In languages that form the word "compassion" not from the root "suffering" but from the root word "feeling," the word is used in approximately the same way, but to contend that it designates a bad or inferior sentiment is difficult. The secret strength of its etymology floods the word with another light and gives it a broader meaning: to have compassion (co-feeling) means not only to be able to live with the other's misfortune but also to feel with him any emotion - joy, anxiety, happiness, pain.

This kind of compassion therefore signifies the maximal capacity of affective imagination, the art of emotional telepathy. In the hierarchy of sentiments, then, it is supreme."

- Milan Kundera,
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I have entered a new stage of my life. Things have signaled that. I have been given this task of weaving that takes me far from my old self to the places where weaving light is possible, and I need you. I need you to come with me because I have been told I can’t do it alone. Have you the courage? Will you come? Will you even notice I have asked? You know who you are.

Weaving Light

It's impossible to
weave the strands of light without
your help or your song
to back the long work
of photon cloth, shades of color
the like of which are
never seen nearby.

That's why I've called you farther
than ever before.

June 27, 2009 3:05 PM

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Snuffing The Air

I write of bears quite often it seems. I guess I relate to them somehow. I have been wondering lately how it all will turn out. Poor Mr. Bear. He will have to eat salmon alone it looks like. Lately I have found that not such a bad deal, myself.

I found myself unwilling to spend much time on the computer in the last couple days. But then wonder of wonders, an unsecured network close enough by. Now I am for an unknown time a member of the internet community. My renter in the back has been using this network for a while and thinks it is going to be stable for a while. With the absences growing in my circle, I suppose I will cast further out now as time allows.

I have written five more poems today. This little spurt of creativity continues, thanks to the websites that I visit, you friends who inspire me. I pray all my friends find their heart’s delight.

Snuffing The Air

Bear waddles along
snuffing the air for berries,
wishing she would give
him a chance. He knows
where salmon jump upriver,
would tell her, whisper
in her ear just so
but her ruffled fur proves it.
He's in a losing

June 26, 2009 11:43 AM

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shape Shifting

"The truths we have come to understand need to find their visible expression in our lives. It is not enough to be a possessor of wisdom. To believe ourselves to be custodians of truth is to become its opposite, is a direct path to becoming stale, self-righteous, or rigid. Ideas and memories do not hold liberating or healing power. There is no such state as enlightened retirement, where we can live on the bounty of past attainments. Wisdom is alive only as long as it is lived, understanding is liberating only as long as it is applied. A bulging portfolio of spiritual experiences matters little if it does not have the power to sustain us through the inevitable moments of grief, loss, and change. Knowledge and achievements matter little if we do not yet know how to touch the heart of another and be touched."
- Jack Kornfield

Jack writes a strong truth when he writes: "Knowledge and achievements matter little if we do not yet know how to touch the heart of another and be touched." More commonly, in my opinion, we may know how to touch and be touched (at least something of it) but lack the courage. There are people in my life who openly tell me this business of love is too much for them. Touching the heart of another and being touched is after all a matter of fully opening, of willing to be naked in the face of what comes next when we are close whether it is touching or being touched. There is no avoiding that and it means ignoring the lessons of the suffering of the past in favor of faith in the future. This faith is not so much faith that suffering will not happen again, but that opening one's heart and the nakedness required is worth it.

It can be confusing too. Consider this:

"Everything in life is a question of drawing a line, and you have to decide for yourself where to draw it. You can't draw it for others. You can try, of course, but it doesn't work. People obeying rules laid down by somebody else is not the same thing as respecting life. And if you want to respect life, you have to draw a line."
- John Berger

That is equally true, is it not? It turns out that drawing lines does not contradict the openness required by love, but how shall we achieve that? The first step is to understand the futility of drawing lines in order to protect against suffering. That is not why we draw lines. We draw lines because it is in our nature to do so, not because there is any necessary utility in it.

Here is a light hearted example of what can happen.

Shape Shifting

You asked me to shift
shape with you. You took your flight
and left me with ears
and stronger haunches
than I've ever had before.
I hunkered, hiding
in the grass like hares
often do, seething about
how I would rather
be a bear, dammit!

June 25, 2009 12:52 PM

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trying To Make Sense Of It

When I am in love, I am automatically more confused even though I am filled with hope and faith in the goodness of things because of it. I am lightened considerably when I am in love, and yet there is a current of loss from the very beginning. Because I feel more alive, I have so much more to lose. This is difficult because I know beyond question that if I try to hold my love close, to cage it, to call out in warning, all that sort of thing, if I should try that I will lose love sooner rather than later. I am not sure if it is true of us all that we lose love by trying to save it. I know it is true of my experience. Love has me, not the other way around, and love initiates while I receive. In this sense I am as feminine as my partner. We are both under love. Love is my liege lord. Saying “in love” exactly means within the bounds of love, that love is bigger in every way.

Here is a master:

Love's Loneliness

Old fathers, great-grandfathers,
Rise as kindred should.
If ever lover's loneliness
Came where you stood,
Pray that Heaven protect us
That protect your blood.

The mountain throws a shadow,
Thin is the moon's horn;
What did we remember
Under the ragged thorn?
Dread has followed longing,
And our hearts are torn.

William Butler Yeats

And here’s me:

Trying To Make Sense Of It

As if you would give
me a flower one fall day,
me the teacher, you
the student, and I
would snuff the full aroma
of it all the way,
as if an apple,
as if we would ever meet,
as if you loved me.

June 25, 2009 12:21 PM

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Clutter Of Kittens

This is a poem about keeping Siamese cats. We had Char-Li, Lu-Si, and Beh-Si. The dams had kittens about two weeks apart. I was in Mrs. Winston’s class, in the fifth grade. Mrs. Winston had badly shaped front teeth, stained by tobacco. We were living in the central valley south and east of the Bay Area, a reasonable commute from the town of Stocton where my parents commuted for their teacher education certifications. They both taught high school on provisional licenses, that they got on the basis of both being Bachelor’s Degreed from Cal Berkeley and actively in teacher training. This was a California ploy to get teachers for the Baby Boomers as they were fast coming onto the scene and swelling the school rolls. World War II and the Korean conflict were over but there were still vacancies in many areas caused by war casualties. We lived first in town, renting a house not far from downtown in Oakdale. That’s where I lived in the fourth grade, Mrs. Looper’s class. As it became available, we moved into a tract home we purchased on contract on the edge of town in a housing development. I was then two houses away from the end of Pleasanton Place and the start of farm country and irrigation canals, where I went quite often. Oakdale is near to Modesto. Our phone numbers should you have a way to phone into the past, were 7774 and then 7777. There were no prefixes or area codes. I was 9 through 11, so this was 1954 through 1956. Something like that.

I fell one day, face first on a neighbor’s driveway and broke a front tooth in . I never had it fixed because it never hurt, until my last girlfriend wanted me to fix it. This was a mistake because the filling has never worked well, just as the caps did not then. I argued about it then, convincing my parents to do nothing because nothing was staying on the tooth. They were poor and mainly happy it didn’t hurt me.

Char-Li was the tom. He had a total kink at the tip of his tail and an attitude quite suitable to a tom that was close to feral. He was a fairly large and beefy cat. He would go wandering for several days at a time as the fields were full of live food on the hoof, so to speak. Lu-Si was long and slender, had come from a tough life and had touchy insides but she still succeeded in breeding. Beh-Si was an ordinary shape and more filled out, as if she was tabby rather than Siamese. At this time, Lu-Si had three kittens first. Then Beh-Si had five. The kittens got tangled after a while and did not care whose mother was whose. Neither did the dams care.

A Clutter Of Kittens

Once we had two dams,
a tom, and eight kittens too,
all skittering on
the well waxed lino
floors at tip top speed
trying to turn a hard left
into the kitchen
and making a pile,
a squirming kitten tangle
against the white fridge.

June 24, 2009 9:05:29 AM

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend off

I've been too busy visiting and other stuff. The poems will resume shortly. Thank you all for your patience.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Yay, I wrote three more poems today. They are sort of dark though. There is a root cause. For me darkness arises always from some form of selfish and self centered entanglement. Often this leads to a kind of arrogance because I feel in my smaller shaped self that I must know what is going on, or I will risk a fatal misstep. I may engage in my arrogance in one kind of intolerance or another, some form of rudeness. In the poems, the burden of my shortcoming leads to darkness. I was taught that the solution is transparency. So I have said so here.


Perhaps as artists we poets and musicians and all the others who yearn and commit and express, perhaps we see the hidden things that peek out from the crannies of life. Occasionally, the things we see are Holy. More often they are some form of lesser truth. On the other hand, here is another take on things:

"We live in all we seek. The hidden shows up in too-plain sight. It lives captive on the face of the obvious - the people, events, and things of the day - to which we as sophisticated children have long since become oblivious. What a hideout: Holiness lies spread and borne over the surface of time and stuff like color."
- Annie Dillard

I don’t mind that she sees it so differently, though I favor the crannies because of the ubiquitous nature of untamed self centered will. In any case because as Annie says in our sophistication we have forgotten an essential piece because we are too familiar, because of that we shall have to learn other ways to see things. I say it is “peripheral vision”. I see the holy out of the corner of my eye.

But what do I know? If you depend on something I say, I will deny it! :D


This is the time for
clamping shut, saying nothing,
standing on the fifth.
Whatever it is,
I’m as innocent as Hell!
Cicadas or no,
Imps notwithstanding,
Sure, you were changed, but not me!
I didn’t do it!

June 24, 2009 2:01 PM

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I Am Not A Flat Man

Writing poems has picked up a little, several in the last two days. I’ve been here before… So much of life repeats. Some say a lesson comes around again and again until one learns its heart. Then it never returns. Perhaps that’s so.

I am a believer in hidden meanings and far more than those meanings that lurk in some of the chance encounters on the planet. I say Jung’s concept of synchronicity applies sometimes. I say there are cracks where the Divine shows through in the otherwise seamless landscape painted by all the selves on the planet. We, all the sentient beings, cannot govern everything with our demands for autonomy, not even with the sparks of selves in all sentience, all the way down to the inanimate. Where the autonomy of creatures reigns, there the Divine usually withdraws unless some kind of Divine necessity overrides things. The historical evidence shows Divine necessity rarely comes up in any recognizable way, probably because that kind of intervention seldom works for long.

There are cracks where the Divine shows through, but the cracks dance. They are dynamic and wink in and out in any particular location. Perhaps as well you will find the Divine in the patterns woven, like the light paintings of deep see creatures as they swim, or the glow worms of the night. We weave too, in our crowded shapes, too busy with our notions of our own business to see God emerge for a moment to tweak something because we have all overlooked that place at that moment. My friend Erin has asked about the gaps, so I offer this. There are many more ways the world gaps, like the moment of poise between breathing in and out, but the gaps in and between self will and self will are the main ones that pertain to our reasons to live, our destinies, where Divine aid comes from or magic works.

I Am Not A Flat Man

I've been here before,
you are not the only one.
Others, same struggle.
I cannot break through,
Know I am not the flat man
who would walk away
midway through the vows
that arise between the lines
and instead would ask.

You send me away
though my soul shows through my bones,
through my naked bones.

June 23, 2009 8:11 PM

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Perhaps riding stars is riding the light. In that way the word lightweight takes on another meaning.

Slim Pickens rides the bomb at the end of Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb. This is one of the better movies made in 1964. It was political satire and black comedy. I was nineteen or late eighteen when I saw it. I loved the humor in this movie. Peter Sellers, as Dr. Strangelove, had an arm he could not always control. That became a comedy routine for many young men of the day. I still do that every once in a while, usually my right arm tries to attack me. Peter Sellers did it first. I wonder what it is like to know that you have given a routine to millions of boys.

These days I am confronted with unwanted time off work. I have been off work too much in the last year. I had to fund myself. That means I am spending my retirement funds early. Now I need to work but my health is not that good and I worry because it is a real tiring thing to work. When I have a normal week I come home on Friday evening so tired that I am near to weeping on those days. Then I take all weekend doing very little just to recover. I may have to retire soon even though I don’t want to because the money is not there. All this reality pressure has me thinking in both realms. I really don’t want the mundane to triumph over fantasy, but it did when I was a small child with asthma and it is doing that more and more these days too. The asthma appears to be coming back. My breathing has basically sucked for three months now. As I cast back to the time when I finally had to give up singing, I realize that this is not new, that what I was calling allergies was riding on top of this condition. I could feel it at the best of times for at least three years now. It was just not that bad.

When I can, here is where I live:

The Key to Our 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.

So as adults, we need to become newly aware of the love that has infused our lives all along, to turn our attention to it afresh with the eyes of a child. To do so is to become conscious of the tremendous capacity for love that even now permeates our being-to open to it, to be healed by its life-giving energy, and to participate in its power to renew our world. We can awaken to the deepest goodness in ourselves and others. We can learn to recognize and commune with the blessings that have always been pouring forth.

- John Makransky, "Love is All Around", tricycle (Fall 2007)


Like Slim Pickens rode
the bomb, I shall ride God’s stars
though I heard you call
such stuff time wasters.

My folks would agree with you
that I am easy,
too easy, a fool
in fact, and prone to fritter
my life on shallow
things. But I wonder
if riding stars counts really
as a light-weight trade.

June 23, 2009 3:21 PM

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What I Am Today

Interesting. I dream. Not what I really am, what I dream I am. Even in dreams I will dim down. Sooner or later, I will wane. This is natural. We even speak of the death of suns. Suns die. Living in hydrocarbon bodies is not a fate similar to suns. The world places demands on us even when we live as loose as we possibly can. We step to the edge, yearning to fly. It remains possible only where there is magic. That we fly now – if viewed by a lord or commoner of the middle ages, it would be magic they would see.

It is very important to know where magic ends and the mundane begins. No matter how we yearn, the stories are stories. I choose to live intensely in stories. I live intensely in dreams. When I have a lover, stories and dreams cross over in intriguing ways and lead me into realms of hope for the future of the planet. Even there I remember the realities of doing dishes and going to work, and if I drive too many miles, then some form of accident happens along the way, or some break down. If I live too long, then my health fails no matter how many dragons I have ridden. This is just true.

What I Am Today

You asked, what notion
of self have I dreamed I am
and I replied, "Verb!"

That's today's answer, action.
I burn, cast shadows like light.

Tomorrow will dim
my glow as is usual
after all this shine.

June 23, 2009 12:51 PM

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Dangers Of Living With Dragons

The end of things is often so complicated that there is no graceful way out. I have been dumped by my last three loves, though my marriage was so obvious and necessary that I had no real hard time losing the relationship but instead relief that she was going into the distance. Not so with the last two. I fought hard to keep and make permanent the first relationship after my wife. The second, I thought was going to work, but then things happened and they led to introspection and that led to decisions that led to a severance after four years and nine months or so. I am not sure how long she really intended to end us, but she had given me a task, saying that it would lead to a continuation and then as I was doing it successfully, she ended us as lovers anyway. That was tough. One of the partners is usually far more invested than the other. She had plans she knew I could not join. During our time, I had mixed feelings but so much respect and warmth for the woman that I knew I would be fine and I mostly assumed that conditions would break in our favor and lead to permanence. She questioned our relationship and waxed and waned throughout all the years.

That permanence did not happen, not even close. In its place I was given a prayer discipline out of necessity and I succeeded in making the transition without rancor. It was a reasonably close thing. The work was easy enough but the patience called for was considerable for about a year. I was poised to fall into hostility, and could easily have done so. The prayer discipline has held me in good stead for a number of years now, used in many other issues and I am still very good friends with that woman. This pleases me any number of ways.

The Dangers Of Living With Dragons

I realize I've
burned your trust as if I breathed
dragon's fire through holes
in my wizened soul.
I would slink off like weasels
do if I weren't caught
here in the web we
wove long ago together
out of dragon's hair.

June 23, 2009 12:34 PM

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I'll Go Riding

I am learning the ways that we fool ourselves as much as anything these days. As I wrote Thursday in Here Be Dragons, I am reading a book that is describing in depth the various ways that we avoid the truth of our unpredictable condition on the planet, and as well this book is describing all the falsehoods that we put in place so that the world does appear predictable. We demand predictable lives. We want to have control. We think that an uncontrolled life isn’t fair and we buy insurance so that we come out of an unpredictable “accident” all right. Insurance companies bet that these odd occurrences are so rare that they will make money hedging our bets.

So we know that the other stuff, the unpredictable stuff, does happen, but we minimize it, or some other ploy. Many people will risk it if they can, as I did in the nineties. I was working on contract and getting all my pay as a gross income. I had to do quarterlies to pay my taxes and health insurance was up to me. I couldn’t afford it. For most of ten years I did without. Then I was nearing sixty. I said to myself I will have to get some coverage. Then my boss hired me direct again as an indirect raise, giving me the employer health coverage. That’s how I came to have Kaiser Permanente insurance when I had my heart event. It was a $200 heart event, angioplasty, and stent placement. Even had they had to send me to another hospital for more advanced heart work, it still would have been in that range. This is where Kaiser Insurance shines. I am on several heart drugs, blood pressure and cholesterol meds. Kaiser shines there too.

There are professions engaged in predicting the unpredictable. They believe their own bullshit and we believe them. It is actually demonstrable that too much “knowledge” in a fundamentally unpredictable field actually makes it less likely you can predict well. This would be all about business, except it is not. When we marry, we are mostly all sure it is for life. Wrong. That happened to me after twenty years. Who would have thought? That woman sobered me up, then lived with me sober for another decade before she began to fail herself. Then in a few short years alcoholism forced our divorce and killed her. That is the situation that ruined our retirement, and has me in the pickle I am in now. I am quite close to not being able to work for reasons of health. I need five more working years, but I suspect I won’t get much retirement out of it anyway. It is just that this maxes out Social Security, and pays me nearly a thousand bucks more a month by working longer.

So you see, I know intimately how predictions fail.

I'll Go Riding

I feel cut off now,
at the knees at least, or topped
like a tree might be
thinking like you did,
approaching life so.

Instead, today I'll ride you
like a wild dragon,
like a dappled mare,
ride you into the heart's core
and beyond tall tales

into the truth of things.

June 22, 2009 12:24 PM

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