Tuesday, December 06, 2016

all furrows to them a kind light.

in the morning you will know
better, the sun in these crystalline clouds
is full of the abstract, so that
the winter is always
full of realizations
(the air is light as a feather
from shedding all these words like gifts
upon the windows' margins,
from trying to speak its whispers through)

but one
cannot
care for each in the way
it should be done, all the long nights till spring
with all the furrows numb upon your face;
howsoever the freeze may whisper well those wildly
intricate sayings sown
from less feeble a sun.


Monday, July 25, 2016

you are what you will give away

my daughters
how real they are to me
with scrawls on scrap paper
they draw of myself and themselves
grinning clear across waxed line oval faces

and many other fantastical things
requiring extensive explanation

in this lack of cumbrance
they riffle past numb undergrowth
straight to where I feel things right

that part that can be given away
scrawls across other lives
as sure as wake from the plunk of prow
spreads on the glass of lake

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Amelia's Song

When I came home a few days ago, Amelia had written a song, and we came up with a tune for it together that night. So, here's Amelia's Song, which is a lullaby that ranges through mountains and dungeons, grass, trees, ravines and rubble, life and death and a little child.

Friday, January 29, 2016

You won't believe what happens at the end of this song!

A hummingbird is hard to see

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Christmas past memories

A very serious piano ballad played and sung with appropriate flourishes.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

holidays are for ghosts

what we call now the holidays were holy days once,
i suppose, dangerous days
when the harvest was in and the fruit of time
was ripe on the hearths

a heart full of time knows invisible things
time being the first

and out of time my grandparents accost me
after all, I am living in their former home
am I not
and do I know their invisible selves
I did not, I do not

I think I would like them to approve
of these holiday meals, for instance
but what kind of shape is that for a memory
a sort of mummery wrap
what is frightening of the past is when things not living
move with your own animation
like taking down old photographs to make them dance
Poe could do something with that, do something
with their eyes, have them give
commands

when you die, what is left?
is is what time took out of you
like this house it took out of my grandfathers arms
pulling nails from his blows for affixing studs
pulling the slop from plaster until it hardened over seams

and more it took from my grandmother
children, meals, washing, laughter
and all her fears
where is that house, did it square up or harden
into father, uncles, aunts
houses cannot be found in houses, there is no it
where you say look here
for the invisible thing

it is just a heart full of time that knows
how to look, like my grandmother in her last days
in her dementia
or drug-induced dreams
speaking to me with all the time that was not mine
knowing me as three persons or more
i told her, as any number of them,
what I knew of her that was my own, very little it seemed
just gatherings in this house, at this table
it moved her without knowing my name for more than five minutes
at a time, the animation was from somewhere else
and it could carry no judgement with it at all
since that is the sort of thing that time carries you away from
and leaves in the lumber and scrapes across the seams

if there are ghosts living in holy days
do they wish you had known, could remember what they had been
or are they themselves because they are invisible
in what is left being from time?


Thursday, November 26, 2015

and there was 2pm, first thanksgiving

the leaves
in the cranny by the loading dock
at the back of the warehouse
where freight sometimes rolls in across
semi trailer decks
are clenched like old fists
flit fast as sparrows in the fitful gust
winds gentle folded by brick walls
into cyclones, hurricanes in scale to the fish-eyed puddle
they brood, they hover over.

I say sometimes,
in the autumn, if not in other seasons,
to myself to bide--
after gales the air hangs free
what fists in crannies clung
no longer are alive when one's breathing shallows
things known as true vie with little else
in dry time and cold,
and yet clench afternoons by truck-fulls
and shake and shake their trust
to scale--to scale like needle heads
on which to shake.

so? dignity should
empty trees, stand naked through the snows
believe or not believe
earth's command subtle as sap
"make green" and
cunning creep, flying fly
fruit bear within it seed

know down to your bones
to cleave like flesh.
or should I say instead
forsake thy time and time and time?
for what faces you, scale to scale
help fold into
help






Thursday, November 05, 2015

A clarification

The question is what exactly it is that we are up to. The answer is clearly that we do not know. That we do not know precisely is most easily followed by that we do not care--we don't care in the sense that it is not an emotional or intellectual necessity to know. In fact, it seems quite reasonable to suppose that not knowing what we are up to facilitates being up to it. It's like the story of Peter on the water.

But in every smaller sense, knowing what we are up to is much better for being up to it. Well, that's not quite true. Knowing you are becoming friends does not help you become friends, knowing you are falling in love does not help you fall in love. Knowing you are doing well leading a group of people does not help you lead them well. It might even break the spell and let you down into the water.

It might, or it might not. But knowing you are trying to repair drywall helps you go about it. Knowing you need to target a certain market helps you do so. Knowing that you need to increase sales might help you target a new market. Knowing a team is relying on you not to blow it is closer to the tipping point of not being helpful, depending on your personality. Looking into whether it will be beneficial to society as a whole if your company increases sales is helpful only in very special cases relative to increasing sales, and in other special cases relative to other things. Looking into why anyone would get up to the business of doing what you are doing in the first place...the answer is clearly that we do not know.

Well...we do not know. But what is the difference between knowing and not knowing? I don't mean what is the difference, when faced with 2+2=, of knowing 4 or not knowing 4. I don't even mean the difference between not knowing 4 and not knowing "+" or "=" or even "2." There are always many things we could learn.

I mean what is different when you approach ultimate questions, as in the example about sales. Your questions are on a trajectory in that example. They move from requiring knowledge of fewer things to eventually require knowledge of all things. The question is approaching an infinite point: why does everything in the universe and any other universes do just as it does? As you move along this trajectory, there is a subtle shift in the nature of what an answer could be. It is subtle because of the remarkably fine gradation. We seem to use the same word for the thing you would know in answer to the question: truth.

In the same sort of way, a scientist could study an organism, the organism is part of an ecosystem, eventually you can get to something like the Gaia theory where the planet can be seen as an organism. Presumably you could go on from there. The nature of being is graduated out until it too becomes a universal.

This is what I mean in earlier posts when I put truth and being as sort of points in a grid or points from which other things move.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

after bejar

by songs
slung down the notes of their own magnitude
moments may compare
these infinities in coupling pairs
unique
heartbeat jarring its electric
cardiogram line like guitars across a stage light
the mind in its analog time
trails paradox by scent alone
in a world where
truth flowers first for insect
lovers

so it sings
walk with small legs
keep immaculate your filament wings


later, on a May mornng

1
come May
it is still morning late

the trees have
by now
been shaken like private rainclouds on their tether trunks

birds as black as boughs
look through their flight-pecked feathers
cackle their calls

how can such sharp, sharp eyes
know nothing yet of death
except the watchfulness of sky

cool, shallow
breaths drop from cloudtops as if
drugged
down the warm pulse of
wet planetary greetings to the sun

2
in the angle of late morning dandelion bloom
innocent as the wrong word
they lack
all yearning
from taproot on up

childish hue
you grow too fast

why does the soil so love them
what is their pact

in seed they threaten
to drift
off
like the afterlife at the slightest provocation
toward everything
manicured, rightly arranged
and pleasing to the eye

3
spent lilacs un-boughed have fallen
onto the deck's softened
grey surface
introjected by rains as a soul by themes, movements
of forgotten symphonies,
as a sepal sheath
unaware
of the billow of its own late fragrant flower
just now
strewn along the latest slap of blue.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

it is may and it is morning

it is may
and it is morning

the night has been sighing
raindrops
and the shy earth is green as a new soldier
a first love, first draft
new teacher behind the desk of
her first class

nothing yet required.
nothing must be
changed.  the lilacs on
the table with lilies of the valley
a small wealth of fully wilted dandelions

need
no
arrangement to childishly
speak

a foggy breath drawn in through the open
window
from the patient, pausing earth
waits
for you to
exhale

because like each new thing drawn upwards
on its green string
your body
in the dawn air
involuntary
knows what
next follows last

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Toward a model of the motion of the existential cycle (or something like that)

Well, let's take a different turn in our thinking. So much for Gettier problems and justified true belief--they belong to each other. Certainly but for justified true belief, a Gettier problem is hardly a problem.

I also noticed I over sold the idea of unities. I do think fundamentally there is a unity of truth and a unity of being. However, activity or will is probably less a unity and more a multiplicity. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is because humans have such a predilection for noticing activity that it is so difficult for us to see unity at all. Instead, we seem to be faced with a inchoate or at the least irregular terrain of truths and material reality.

At any rate, here are some rough diagrams of the overall model I am suggesting. First, we see several interstices within truth, activity, and being, which lie between dichotomies. There is a general flow of time from left to right, and a flow of phenomenology at the junctures, by which, I would vaguely posit, personal identity is maintained. At each end point is a spin toward some other state, marked with the letter T, A, or B for truth, action, being respectively. Continuing outward is a greater fabric of these lines which lie outside the perceptual borders which are (I am speculating) created by the phenomenological pull of the interstices (in a moment I'll show a second diagram talking more about this motion).

Click to enlarge


This is a very crude figure of the basic arrangement. The model itself creates many new problems which I won't try to tackle right now. However, it is important to understanding this conception to also understand that the real notion is not static, as this picture would present, nor full of "ends," which is precisely what I was complaining of in my earlier posts. Rather, since every end has a proclivity for some other state, it is a model of continual, cyclical motion. NB: I notice that I have some end-points proclivities mis-labeled in this drawing, but the second diagram should help to clear this up.

Below is a diagram of each state as a part of a cyclical movement. This makes more sense if I mention that the movements consist of pairs of lines--one from each implied vertical plane above. This is very rough, but I tentatively suggest that one plane is what we might call "subjective" while the other is what we might call "objective." For example, for being, creation and dissection are in the subjective plane, while void and ground state (these are all very rough terms) are in the objective plane. I don't know if this notion will hold though, because I haven't worked through that part yet. Points T, A, and B represent the interstices, or what I had whimsically described in my first diagram as the existential axes. In a later post I will try to say more about what I think these axes actually represent.

Click to enlarge
So, the rough representation of motion from above. I split it out because I couldn't draw it as one contiguous motion. In fact, the figure does not present a closed system at this point. In case this all seems rather interesting but useless, let me point out why this matters. If this is the nature of these elements, and if they are none of them properly understood as merely causes or ends, then it would follow that an explanation of any part of reality would be closer to correct if it demonstrated a following of these lines further than along any single paired duality taken from the first diagram.

In other words, you would do better to describe a unified truth which became diverse as it was made evident in being, which, through dissection created an emotion or felt reality which brought about some rationalized action which unified understanding but made it generally obscure, resulting in a state of chaos which resulted in an extreme rigidity of will...in a word, the further you follow the lines, the closer you mimic the existential cycle.

There is much more to be said about all of this (for example, these are not really "lines" exactly, and much more that is necessary). But, this is as far as I have gotten in my notebook.



A bunch of songs

Follow the red lights

Some older songs I found lying around:

Morning Glory

Civilization and its discontents

A myth to explain its longing

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

spring time

the streets are so perfectly dampened
as to seem alive as soil
alive as the image of black bough
hulloo-ed into your eye with large nows
waiting for the echo with cupped hand

alive is a series of steps
complex because it will twist
will cling like sap, like pitch
will rise from you don't know where
from your shoes on asphalt
from familiar morning words
and bedroom window seeping air
off moist rock walls of night, slow as roots
alive is in its spread from head to head
i love the day when you drift in it

spring is when things come back
walking beside you alive like another world would have been alive
full of only other people
and of you nothing but the trace
how hard to think of ashes strewn across this breeze
yesterdays pinched out
it must be something very large that chains together time
along unbroken dreams
halfways remembered
alive reminds like the same old song plucked from your fingers
clinging like pitch along lengths of wire

heavily the air seems to rise
like a body from dark water
parted from the muddy lips of mother earth
when you stretch your hand
can you feel how dead things pine
to be free of you?
they come, nows
spread on softened
echo, touching down on this.


Saturday, May 02, 2015

Some initial thoughts on truth in being.

I left off by beginning to describe a system of reality construction, or an ecology of the real. Truth was a part, perhaps the most important part, of that construction, but was not considered as an end-point, or an end alone. In other words, truths, through their interplay with being and action, are part of what stands as a continual process or cycle. Certain parts of that cycle have what I was calling sympathy with each other.

I suggested this in the context of setting up a particular problem with truth as end: the justified true belief (this context is not, of course, my own idea, but has already been discussed at length by philosophers). The problem was, to summarize it in a way, that truths as end-points are sufficiently elusive that we cannot establish a sufficiently complete way to describe them. So, a Gettier problem shows us that what we thought was an end-point (a particular truth/knowledge) could not always serve as an end-point, because though the criteria of justified true belief were met, the concluding understanding was false in some important way.

To say that truth is not an end point might seem like a purely semantic way out of the problem. In other words, it changes the terms or the meaning of the terms, but offers no greater solution. After all, even if the nature of reality is exactly as I described, how does that really help us? We still will not know at any time what part of the cycle we are in.

What seems apparent to me, however, is that this becomes less of a problem if we continue to factor in all the cycles of reality--in other words, rather than looking for truths as ends, we look about us for the ecology of the real. This will involve a more holistic approach to knowing.

Critical to my view is that there is one truth, of which all truths are a part. There is one being, of which all being is a part, and there is one will or one activity, of which all activity or will is a part.

Furthermore, these unities are perceptible, I believe. To say they are perceptible is in fact highly unusual, however, and in fact is a large part of the problem that selves have within the overall ecology. Because perception necessitates some sort of separation from a unity. However, if the unities are in some sense complete in themselves, then the difficulty is diminished. Because action or will is not the same as truth, but is itself a unity, then by acting we can discover things about truths, and in turn discover things about truth as a unity. True enough, while we act we do not simultaneously perceive, but since acting has an effect on our being and the being of those outside ourselves, the temporary separation of these elements of the ecology allows for perception.

This is obvious from the very processes that we engage in scientifically to, as we think, arrive at truth end-points. By carrying out activities and noting their effect on being, we uncover truths which were previously only inherent in being. However, unless the action is perfectly understood, we cannot arrive at truth as an end. So, no experiment is designed to arrive at all truth. At the same time, and decent experiment is aware of at least some other truth which has been made apparent at a previous time. Well, made somewhat apparent. So, an individual experiment, great or small, begins with some understanding of the ecology of the real, and ends with, hopefully, some greater perception of all truth through the uncovering of some truth.

But this is not limited to scientific exploration. Indeed, virtue within a society has a similar dynamic, except that in this case different elements hold different positions. Truth in being is what is sought, while activity is like the prior experimental results (if this were described in an analogous way to a science). So we say, people have acted in certain ways, and we will use this as a model to explore truth in being. Thus, in a search for virtue, people will look to models of activity, and experiment on being through this process. The extreme, and therefore in this case useful, example of this would be mystics, ascetics, monks, holy people, and the like. By adopting certain activities as a given, they use being as an experimental element. Of course, the end point remains truth--being is experimented with according to models of will or action, and by attaining greater understanding of being, one may attain different understanding of truth--that is, one may experience truth that is borne in one's being.

To experience truth in being is not the same as to uncover truth in principle. At least, this is my thinking, if you like it. And if this is in fact the case, then we have a different case of truth than truth as end-point, which I will assert is a truth, as we might think, in principle. This different case of truth is not subject to the Gettier problem, though it may have other inherent problems of its own. Yet, if this truth in being is still a case of truth uncovered, then the difference is more than semantics.

One might say that this is a lesser case of truth understood, because it is subjective. It isn't yet possible for me to really deal with subjectivity, because I haven't fully explored where such a distinction comes from in the ecology of the real. At the same time, I would suggest that there are sufficiently rigorous ways of examining truth experienced in being that it should stand as a case of truth understood. The most obvious one is to turn again to activity. If truth is uncovered and perceptible in being, then it should furthermore affect will or action. The will or action, even of an individual, is not cut off from other beings in a subjective universe built on the fancy of the person who has experienced it. The effects of this experience are tangible in the outside world through activity. If they were not, they could not truly reside in being. I hate to be circular, but this is because being too is a unity, and by this nature, as the truth in it is uncovered, it cannot stand to cut off some part of itself. This is not the activity of truth within it, though this is a very common misconception (as we often characterize those who have special perception of truths to be on a new, separate path from the ordinary beings--and indeed they may think this is so as well).

So, will we arrive at truth in principle? Can we satisfy the desire for truth as an end, or do we simply need to point ourselves away from such a construction? I don't know, but I believe that we do not do ourselves a service in an attempt to arrive there by constructing ways to circumvent other ways of knowing--more likely that arriving at truths in principle is an activity which requires truth in being and truth in activity or will, and understanding what those cycles look like will be fruitful toward placing truth in principle within the ecology of the real.




Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Preliminary ideas on the nature of reality (nothing major).

Let me attempt to wrestle down some ideas that have been circling around in my mind regarding philosophy.

First, some problems. How do we know things are true?

There is a suggested answer in the construct of a justified true belief. If some belief about the world is justified, that is, if it is reasonable according to valid argument, and if it is true, that is, verifiable to a certain threshold of observable experience, then that belief is sound.

You can put this to the test. If you believe that objects fall and a penny is an object, and can verify sufficiently that indeed objects do fall and that a penny is indeed an object, your belief that if will fall when you drop it could be considered sound. Of course, a great deal of complexity can be involved in producing a sound belief of this nature, going all the way to the theory of gravity and an examination of the mass of the penny and the gravitational force exerted by the mass of the earth and so on. You could drop a penny a thousand times and observe the effects, etc.

However, there are occasions where such a theory of knowledge is insufficient. These are sometimes called Gettier problems. For example, if a farmer looks out over a field and sees his cow there, he may be justified in thinking that his cow is in the field. But, suppose someone set out a fake cow. Well, now he is justified in his belief, but it is not true. But suppose again that his cow is indeed in the field, but is down behind a hill. Now, he is justified in believing that the fake cow is his cow, and his belief that the cow is in the field is true. And yet, his knowledge about his cow is not sound. So the argument goes. If this example doesn't convince you of the problem, there are more convincing examples. Or, you can think about a time that you realized you were wrong about a certain belief that was justified and also true, but not true in the way you thought it was.

This might seem like a stupid game, except that if this flaw is ever possible, it is ALWAYS possible for any belief. In other words, a theory of knowledge is insufficient if you have no way of applying it in any given situation with any certainty. So, fine, we cope, and we get things wrong or right, and sometimes we realize we got things wrong or right and sometimes we don't, and the world goes along for people who are always sure their right and for those who always question themselves.

So, that might seem a trivial problem. Except, I would ask, what about people's problems? Many deep problems exist through this problem of knowledge. Something bad happens in a person's childhood, and the psychological effects of not knowing what is true and false about it remains with them for the rest of their life. What if all the evils of life come down to people acting on misconceptions about reality? What if these misconceptions are compounding, leading to further misconceptions with further bad consequences?

This is a very difficult problem to examine indeed. In fact, if good and evil is about more than just making good choices instead of bad ones, but requires choices made about correctly understood situations, then the nature of how situations can be understood becomes important if for nothing more than human happiness and well-being.

Well, enough for setting the scene. This is just one set of problems out of many, many more, but is, I think, a sufficient reason for looking into the matter.

There is a tendency, from my experience, for us to think of truth as an end. In other words, if we have a theory, we can think about it, use our experience, test it, whatever, and at the end point of this process is a product: the truth. Maybe we didn't arrive at the truth? Well, okay, gather more evidence, think it over again, go through the process again, whatever. Better luck next time.

But, let's think about truth as one part of reality. Not just an end point, but also a beginning and a middle. Both a cause and an effect. How might this work?

To situate truth within reality, we would need to decide what reality is. Okay, well, that shouldn't be too hard, right?

Of course it is ridiculously hard, but if you are interested in attempting it, you are well served by seeing what others on the same path have discovered, and in that spirit I offer the following.

Reality may be conceived of as having three main aspects: truth, action or will, and being or material.

For example, some truth can be expressed in a theorem of gravity. This truth is intertwined with the material of the penny (as are many other truths). A penny in various ways can hold the amount of truths that its material allows. Truths about canine behavior cannot be held in the material of a penny. But how do we know that? By action/will. Action or will is a force which can operate to uncover truth in the material/being. Dropping a penny helps to uncover gravitational truth from the material of the penny.

So far so good, but this doesn't seem to get us much further than our previous justified true belief process.

Here's where it might get more interesting. We must separate whether we are driving toward some end-point truth, or whether when we say truth we mean reality. Because reality is, according to my view, comprised of many truths contained simultaneously in material as the two aspects are situated in actions. So, one might say there is an ecology. An ecology of the real in which truth lives.

This is important, because truths will be operating upon each other in this ecology, for one thing. Take a more complex truth ecology. A person lives in a society where filial piety is consider the stamp of good moral character. That person learns his father has committed a crime in that society. Now, he or she considers filial piety to be a truth, and the duty under the law to be a truth. It would seem that there are two truths in conflict. You might not like that simple example, but we all have much more personal examples where truths are in conflict, no doubt.

So, if the truths are operating on each other in an ecology of a reality which is comprised of more than truths-as-endpoints, a good understanding of that reality may be necessary.

Let me say more about the model of reality I am suggesting, then. For each of the three aspects, truth, action, and being, there are continuums in which they are in motion. For example, action has causes on one side, and effects on another. Being has creation on one side and dissection on another. Truth can be inherent on one side, or evident on another.

But, continuum is not the best word to describe these dualities. Phases might be better. Or cycles. And the cycles are related. For example, causes are sympathetic to truths which are inherent, and being/material which is being created. Effects or ends are sympathetic to truths which are evident and being/material which is dissected (form/function could also be used as a description of cycles of being/material).

There is much more to say about this model, but I will perhaps pick it up later. Enough to say, there is a similarity between this conception and the conception of an atom, with its constituent parts of proton, neutron, and electron. So far, so good, right? Our model of reality is actually present in reality is some sense.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rats, Nietzsche, Religion.

I
forgiveness is so difficult in
this one particular way:
that another person is not you

not an offense that rises against consciousness
because it is in the main
root to shoot

we think in big bangs
the singular things capture us

II
sensors in rat brain
shed light on movements through the maze

there is a turn
after which it believes it will receive
reward

it can
prematurely
register itself
as in that place

we must study these simple signs
we should know
how we know
what we know

from a maze
to create the soul

III
do you think
when we scuddled from the sea
our desires outstripped our bodies?

that the soul was stretched like dough
kneaded out across this discontent

and the monk, in ascetic life
kneads and kneads this film
out so thin the universe is visible through his skin

ah, the unforgiving fingers, what shall elude their grasp
each to each attracts, small fields gain mass
matter once again retracts

and you and I are I and you
it is the same force that leaves stars aflame
and what singular energy is needed
to make each collapse into everlasting arms again


Sunday, March 08, 2015

To the crocus

1
land of sand-capped snow
melting misty in mid-morning glow

the rising
sad galloping dactyls all

bombast and bluster and old men of winter
riding into the first faint guns of summer

2
all your beauty is buried
in bare earth

there is no beauty, surely, like
hoped-for things coming

3
surely the crocus will
come boldly lo
first blade of spring's spear shows
white truce of bloom upon it

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Twee happening

All through the winter

And just in case you're curious, and haven't heard...

Indian Summer (beat happening)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I simply remember my favorite things

What makes it possible to love, and what does love make possible? Here's a take on that: if the truth can't be contained in oneself, what is the best internal state, and what is the only way that is possible? So, it ends up sounding a little backwards. But secretly I just wanted to make a new song so as to try backing myself with my new melodion.

Don't be Afraid

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas song

Christmas Star

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Sailor's Wife's Lament

Ships upon the ocean, ships upon the sea

Thursday, November 06, 2014

anthony, saint of lost things, part II

1
there was an afternoon halfway gone
late this October
when the gold of the trees matched the gold of the lawn
and stepping in front of the window you were stained
like a saint in cathedral light
except
that windows glass is forever long, and its hardness high-off
soft, slowed to its near-frozen frame
by Murano's cautery.

will you flare out today
weightless as leaves? the seasons always are like
"hey, life goes on." they crawl into you like morality plays, show
their reliquaries, chalices, veils, tears of blood, slivers
of the one true cross
slivers of that cross stay in you a long time
even when you pass
the portions of life which cannot
be noticed in their
going on

goodbye in all its forms
two subjects will sometime say
but the branch
and the leaf
never one do never
really part, since what is their story
but on and on and on?
and real things never do resolve

2
i got this impression on this October afternoon
like the kind of information that gets passed on from someone to someone
without a source
it was as if there was a rumor going around that this would be the most perfect afternoon
i would ever see
and because that had nothing to do with me, on my side of the window,
well, it sounds kind of weird, but that was the actual reason why my own life
eventually becomes one of the lost things

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

After the Jayhawks

I wrote this a while ago after listening to all the Jayhawks albums in a row while washing excess grout off a floor.

After the Jayhawks

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Slidin' Delta

Mississippi John Hurt is completely inimitable, but that doesn't stop one from trying, especially when the original was so good. One of the most beautiful blues songs, in my opinion (not my knockoff version, of course).

Slidin' Delta

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Corinna

Classic blues. Basically after Mississippi John Hurt, except for the mistakes and a few new ideas.

Corinna, Corinna.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

His Hand Makes Them Fall

Here's a dopey little song. Much better with headphones than otherwise.

His hand makes them fall

Saturday, June 14, 2014

He Leadeth Me

He Leadeth Me (trad. arr. Keillor)

Friday, May 16, 2014

a late spring day

a late spring day
is a fine time to recognize
how merciful the quantities of empty air--to move
through its light touch, to see the nothing
that is there

Monday, May 05, 2014

on an evening when rain begins lightly

the farthest
point from yourself
is not another head
nor another's arms

when you have lost
the tears of sad things
it may be that sign
or the ease with which
each is annihilated

yet though anyone can believe
gentle rain
heaven's supply
given for you

why is it still
impossible
to remove yourself from meaning?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

invisible must mean unseen

i have said something like this:
truth
is a coalescence of truths and
being is a unity

i believe this may be true
but i--

when i say "i"
i mean a portion
of existence
while
all existence is being. hello,
i was hoping
i might make your acquaintance.
you escaped me
while i slept.
you left traces of yourself
in the nonsense--

the ecology of truth
is of habits entraced
without the story
i dearly make. delightful, dear adjacency:
adjacent room, adjacent street,
door next to
that whose knob you turned.
hohf. ay. room full of what i could not hold
room with unspoken something
of a bursting sound that will not
a single word confirm

the air full of disturbances
my bowstring tongue has
lashed and hummed. this
does not suggest we do not
care, would not
enmesh--yet

imagine if
the air were not the invisible
part:

each arrow
leaves feathers falling softly
into invisible earth.

when you walk
i could see only how the air dances
faintly, faintly your life
pulses like waves starting upon
miles of open waters.

i will say this:
something feels so near
in each muscle of the air
of spring, yet

truth is such an invisible movement
that seeing it should be a blindness

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Retrospective Love Song

Retrospective Love Song

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

truth is one thing, part two

If truth is one thing
then disagreement is the falsity
you can feel the heat as it is released

as truths go forward
they must converge

nothing is forcing me to move forward, however.
i like plenty of room for my simple lies to be undisturbed
that's how they like to multiply

if you put two scientists down on the head of a pin
and waved a wand to turn one
into a creationist
they would both be likely to go flying with the repulsion
once lost
other things would be found
before a pinhead
how hard it would be to find that thing again
after this scuffle
if not for all the other pin points prodding you along

to move forward is to find truth
forward?
follow the incline if in the dark
if not, first find the dark

when you feel yourself falling
it was actually the other way

if you don't like to climb
feel free to float
though it will take a long time to get there that way

truth won't hold you anywhere
not for a minute
unless you don't mind sitting out a forest fire

truth is a nice thing
to line a nest with
it helps the eggs to hatch
my god you have to feed those little things
so they leave off their horrible chirping

all things are
all things are one
all things are not
all things are not truth

truth must be translated
to be truth
that is how you can become it

but what is its language?
if you speak it
tell me

is it silence?

is it a sound
that slows to stillness? is it spontaneous like cells
that leap into a fetal pulse? is it terryfying
as the peace of a dying breath?




thank heavens for the grocery

when your car
is returning from
the bloodless
supermarket
with bags of brown paper

this is the stuff
that will keep you
and your family
alive for
one week

it is hard to
recognize this
is life this is
all it is
packaged up after
being wrangled
from the earth
or cut from
the carcass
with some of the
more palatable poisons
added for
freshness

what do you know what do you know what do you know what do you know what do you know what do you know what do you know
the aisles
the aisles
the aisles and tiles

well can
you recognize the

life in disguise

life in disguise

life in disguise

life in disguise

life in disguise

Monday, March 17, 2014

whales enmeshed in drift nets

fifty miles long
the open ocean had no breakers. the floats
swell and the weights
dangle

in the sea
whole classes of creatures
scarcely even move

at night translucent feeders rise
and sift among the lowest rigging
oh, and dreams
are stories that would drink up

oceans
 but even
   behemoths
     must breath
       as every breeze knows
         as every wind blows
           this is what they rose for

sardines
are their own
form of whale
enmeshed before the nets
dropped

the sea has always been its own god
deep things always will
for the unexpected catch of darkness
blind fish with flash of red
smooth and ugly
flesh
turn you believer

whales enmeshed in drift nets sing angry songs
fifty miles long
to the surface, the high place
the air, the light, the light

Thursday, March 13, 2014

last thoughts on winter

when the world is freed
from human activity
i like to stand and listen
to the stillness
to the wind sing its lonely song
to the naked trees

i will light a small fire
and watch it tell its tale of time

watch the life of 
this material
with its secret story
curl up the air

return to the starlit sky

the neighbors' last lit window
goes dark

each element
eloquently
translating here and now

like the deep and silent snows
is
and is not

Saturday, March 08, 2014

words on other meanings

the trouble with living is that you know sometime you won't, but you don't know if sometimes you won't. you worry about letting it go because you don't know if you will get it back. but here i am on a sidewalk whispering michelangelo knew after david he must go on becoming a hypocrite. an automatic door opens and the silence is speaking in reverse and each step you take sliding your salt covered shoes on the black knap is the rubbing of feeling's epitaph. molecules of oxygen in cemetery lungs feel the pull of life like dizzy bodies listing toward earth. it feels like silence is the epigraph of unfeeling. it feels like the pull of witticisms lists toward things no longer understood in words. if all your memories fell silent automatic doors would still sense your coming. in the cemetery of words what daisies. your tongue gentle as a heifers might sense each blade of grass and stroke the sky with lowing. every wild place (what eyes of heaven) beautiful and horrible as the trouble with living, every letting go a feeding. lion on lamb, silence on speaking, meaning on words and words on other meanings.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

who has seen the wind?

the winter crawls around this exterior
wall, the white snow-
clothed wind plots
like a novel upon on a blank page;
ghostly, animate arises;
writhe tree bones, shake and
shake, so shone the moon down quickening
slake: slanting fall of flake on flake on flake.

this wall's cove wind will not touch,
its haste is for a warmer place, or comes
from that place, i don't know which.
wake up your heads, you nut-lean oak
scrabblers: the wind is not a passing god
here, she but moans, knows
equalities would cease her whipping wrists.

silence is an illness,
stillness a growth of things stable
into wind.

so look out from this hollow,
step into her force, she will touch your face,
send an ache to each bone of it:
an ache for another place,
an ache to be punished, to be tormented
and to torment.
to erase

and leave on the snow such a gentle, gentle trace

Thursday, February 20, 2014

reflection on work as an orderly

i worked for about five years
wheeling ill and broken people
to a room
with a curtain for a door
where they would be prepared for surgery

i was young enough to think it drugery
to look down at them as they rolled
on their stretchers
with plastic mattresses and pillows starched
so as to make it a simple matter
to make each stretcher impersonal when
these bodies had passed
elsewhere

tough guys
veterans, or sons
who were grateful you were taking
their father, grateful that something
would be happening soon
to change things, to relieve the tension
of an hour or two cloistered in a room where
there were no simple words left, where
the absence of an adequate supply of small talk
was etched across their backs as they bent
over someone who had been anything to them
but a hospitalized patient
for all the years
until that moment

young enough
to think it a drudgery
to stand with co-workers on smoke breaks
and see the numb relief of smoke-filled lungs
the life that haloed them in rings of
simple exhalations

i was young enough
to think that real life was in another place
than the room where someone clung
to what kindness a nurse could spare for one
of a list of persons on an endless round
of working hours

now i work
at a private college
where youngsters with suburban confidence
hunt down real life in the smoke
of ideas of getting rich, of realizing idealized dreams
where experience like microbes seeks
to penetrate the armor of activities
or to infect for a moment the bustle of
perfect abstract truths
that halo every classroom

and deep at night sometimes for a moment
i stand alone among the sleeping neighbors
and i think of all the things that we prepare

Friday, February 07, 2014

you are for yourself only the key

if the truth were
one truth
it would not be my words
that would be reaching toward you
or yours to me
nor the eyes, the heart, the soul
that we would recognize
the only thing between us
clear reflection
and if
the truth were one
the only fear
could be the pettiness of letting go

if the truth were one
even an exploding universe
would still tug itself together
across voids which light could scarcely cover

if the truth were one, for yourself
you are the only key, but the lock it seems must be
each other


Monday, October 14, 2013

autumn 3000

1
certain people speak
almost tenderly
of college
and wrestling with
the tough questions, all in caps

beneath bricks and bells
the draft under the dormitory door
came in autumn
when the leaves were sweet with dying

2
from Fundy Bay
the birds are rising now in waves
the nights
will get so quiet
the foxes grow thick and white

3
in the autumn
we ate bags of apples
we talked of original sin
and the stars hung in the cool air
the nights so early
would come, and these points in the dark
we would wrestle all as one

4
lifeless now the low trees seem
standing quietly naked
in the autumn, and the bears
hum like slow cookers
slight rattle to the lid, these
dormant questions hug our bones
like fat, though
well we may understand
the motion of our tipping land
and the slant of sun
god like this, big as we can
and for death accounted in this turning plan

so birds will rise all day in waves
this emptiness that's left is left
in migratory strides
'till night's stars far off are clear
like atoms of us, a north Canadian beach
for winter to be left empty
and this matter is but emptiness at heart

5
but sill
we will
wrestle and slither as penguins
on antarctic snow to open water slip

sea lions under ice shelves watch and
the toughness and fury
of all dying things is the red of that fiery cold water,
the blood running like sap escaping maple shoots,
yet emptying will have the air
all full with flight of wonder and to where
to where, each fowl with its strange compass flown
their leaving but the filling of some other place

at the Bay of Fundy this first empty night
is delicate
as no other night, darkness
serenely holds its silence; each star singly
may be studied, each icy ave etched in veins on crystal snow;
the endless circle of
such holy beads need not affright

6
no more so than
such people
could think to fear
the far off flicker of their college years


Saturday, September 28, 2013

meditation on nirvana

oh my love
love is like this
an equation, numbers
known and unknown
cut
momentarily
from an infinite set
like warm summer drops
of rain running along your skin
are cut
from the sea

it comforts me
to think as we run for our car
that even stolen moments
contribute to this sum
with our milky galaxy writing
desire in the clearing, moonless night

and then stars' exhausted lights
take cover in your eyes
and wait

i am slow at this
algebra
but want so badly each unknown thing
each
spark
in a
series of fires
to burn away the finite hours









Friday, September 27, 2013

thirty something

thirty something

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Angelina

I wouldn't know you if i met you

Sunday, August 25, 2013

assorted apothegms

eventually
all sources of life are external,
all means of living internal.

pride is most pernicious
in those who are no longer trying
to live up to their potential.

(if you know what I'm talking about, consider yourself somewhat at risk).

one for the generalists:

the depth of a soul
is measured in the breadth of its interests
the breadth of a soul
in the depth of its insight

and, not really an apothegm...

in his later years, my grandfather became a very careful sort of scientist:
he was always repeating his observations.




Thursday, August 22, 2013

Math and myth

spherical trigonometry
can tell you where you are
though it is by ancient tales
we contain the stars

Monday, August 12, 2013

celestial. domestic. tangential.

the trigger was
the tease of sky
that slip of understood
it is the moving of the billows against
unmoved blue

from the case of where you stood
slipped a clue
actually a few, like days between
showers, showers of
all kinds--morning, baby,
rain--each record is a footstep
i mean, this beat of time, the clop of it
feathered in gumshoe
you can feel the cushion
as it billows back from
the immobile you
the sky of you
the sound of that is the white of your bone.

the denouement, let us unwind
three pop cans, your purse with its keys
bits of paper in various dimensions
the angles of life are domestic
trigonometric
as the tangent waves like wind upon
our circle set, the clue is that we move
in given lengths along our way
with slide the rule and axial the play.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

shall clap as they go out with joy

the earth is a strange creature
with her lungs flung out wide in the blue sky
her breath billows down
rich and tender
warm
all summer

you hear her best
in the trees, her shoosh
her chhhh, chhhh
her bending down and her rough
gentle hands
and up, up from her deep heart
they come thick
and cracked
and her skirts sway in the willow wands
and her eyes like sun in the leaves

do not be offended
or afraid though she
wants your body back, patiently
she asks so gentle, so gentle
ready now?
are you, are you, are you
ready?


Monday, July 15, 2013

he just keep rollin'

I.
the bank here
is about 6 feet high
in a circle of little stones
someone has left flower petals
and the river runs on
in its ignorant way, slightly absurd
like ink
into which no pen will ever dip.

not that anyone does that now, of course,
nor would they recognize
how the silt that slips into your sandals
when you go down to the water
feels like the city soot
from which, in hardened bricks, ink once was ground.

II.
in the evening, just after sunset
the strong young river
looks dirty as a fresh grave,

churns rocks, flicks away earth
like the tail of a mountain mule
tends flies,

shoulders the silt
till it spills in the south
where it's breath comes slow,
wheezing through flats
far down
below the level of
its bluffs.

III.
somehow we always have known
that death is a river
and its inanimate flow
hallows every bridge,
farewell its one
word.
when the boats cut along
their silver lines
the moon ripples
over her silent creatures
and god comes flowing down
through the green ash, cottonwood,
hickory, oak and willow.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

settle when the spirit says settle

After reading a chapter of a certain book (not a factual book, precisely, but a book about life, one might say), I found myself thinking--aha, I believe I learned a new thing just there, at that one part. But really, to say I read these hundreds and thousands of words, and learned one new thing. What a disgusting sort of idea, to be so immune. Because, supposing one comes to the point where there is no longer any possibility of a new thought. Imagine this with me--we cannot mean that we know and understand everything, of course. That is not the reason for our immunity. It is simply that we have come to the end of our ability to entertain a thought beyond. Beyond...what? But this is exactly it, we could no more answer that question now than to think the thought we had missed.

So now, our reading (or, far more telling if you are sensitive to this sort of thing, our conversation) consists of what? But this is the part that will really devastate one. As you read, you feel no more than a shifting of the furniture of your brain, or let's even say your soul. A temporary realignment of this idea and that idea to make the simulacrum of a new idea. But there is never any particular reason for these things to be aligned in one way or another way (since by definition a simulacrum will be quite secondary) and like chunks of brightly colored play-doh, eventually it is even by the clumping and re-clumping that a hard, sort of brown color is achieved which further recombining, though it should change the shape and cast, can do nothing to erase or alter. No, those that insist that there must be one particular arrangement or another, they should be patted on the back, really, for trying to do us all a certain type of favor.

For, after all, it is only sensible, as I just was writing in the post below, to suggest that at a point in development one comes to the part where it has generally been no longer necessary to go on learning things at some great rate (or even a slow rate, as some of us have been blessed with). Deep within your sort of evolutionary blueprint there is a sort of plaster. Beyond here, you are supposed to be fairly functional. You are no longer supposed to have to be figuring things out. This means the pliability of one's mind somehow ceases to be an asset, because growth, which had made that pliability useful and necessary, has slowed. To be fair, we should probably specify that it would be less artificially depressing if we suggest that the nature of growth has perhaps merely changed (do you start to observe this brown color now?), and it is no longer necessary to expand oneself. Let's take, for example, the possibility that it is simply necessary to harden oneself.

It is self-evident that this will be a dangerous sort of business.

one's golden age behind one

there is a time of late evening
out on the street
i believe the world will seem strange
in its quiet the stillness of a city
which is an active stillness
and it begins to seem as
if you are supposed to come to a
point at which you have grown comfortable

with each of these things such as
flies clustering the light
by the picnic table in
the park
but even more, with the parked cars
and the manicured lawns
and yet the barking dog which gets its
"shaddap"

it is not that this is supposed to be "it"
but it is it, made in the way
of smilarities. look at it this way
what is it that you are, floating along this imaginary street
the real thing...even that you cannot answer
now. the very idea is disturbing
like the wooded part along the dark walk.
the price of releasing
the hope of some deep, resounding truth
is not so very much, after all
you must admit. and there are
many almost things, but of these
the most real falsity is a thing
alive in itself. This makes
no sense, but is true
again and again.

at some point it is assumed
that you function pretty well.
that this requires
an ignorance of the strangeness of
bats or by what process they developed
their echo-location is not problematic;
that, equally, your own blindness and saggy
skin might make you an aeronaut is a conceit
that has no particular resonance in this dark;
the game is gobbling the insects, but even this
fact is not well known. hard work has its own
utility, it can't be denied, and just one small example
is the calloused hand, useful for so many tasks
precisely by lack of sensation to any task.
in this case, if i were to say your skin
feels like the ear of a yearling doe when she
stands erect and flaring, with the dew clinging to the tips
of her perfect, slender legs and the water of the pond, in the early morning mist, trembling
from the recent touch of her lips

if i were to say that
the truth of it is equivalent to the manicured
lawn of the split-level on the corner except
this is the truth
which which we should be
becoming comfortable
though such statues secretly make one raise a fist

but i wouldn't say it now
such a thing. yet i will believe those things
all of them
like i believe the stillness of an evening on a city street
like i believe the quiet by the distant sounds of cars and trucks
all the golden age behind one by photograph, memorable, statuesque.

though in every age people after all did live, not knowing if it were golden.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

drug store medicine

above the gravel
of the roof of walgreens
the engines of an airplane
compress the air
with a forward wake of sound
and an old man inhales
the last pull
on his cigarette. exhale
lungs and jet engines
trails to the night sky
strong medicine
minnesota winter makes me catch my breath
like a beautiful woman that just left
automatic door
winter salt and winter dirt
winter air come under your shirt
the things that will never make you weep
the endcap, manager re-facing
all the products out
when i get older
i'll come here more often
i will want the tv cures
i will want
your creams
i know that i will have got it down by then
the pains that can be relieved

it will probably be a drug store
in arizona
it'll be hot as hell outside.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Love and kindness

Has it ever occurred to you to wonder why you cannot love someone simply by being kind to them? Kindness is a wonderful thing, but I think you will agree with me that it is not equal to love. If you love someone, in any of the many ways you can do so, and you receive back their kindness alone, you will immediately feel the coldness of that virtue.

A child is born under the immediate burden of the most pressing and basic needs. In fact, an infant can be said to have two states: satisfaction and dissatisfaction. When they are satisfied, they sleep. However, it is through dissatisfaction that we all first give voice. Generally that is, in fact, how we emerge. So, every born soul has first turned to the outward with dissatisfaction, fear, helplessness, and the cry of demand. However, very soon we open our eyes, and we have a second way of turning outward: curiosity. Our first means of satisfaction is by the provision of our mothers. Our second means of satisfaction is through our own curiosity. And, indeed, of these two, kindness and caring is born of the first exchange, and love itself comes from the second.

Let's consider for a moment, then, why we should consider kindness to have a certain coldness. Here we turn from our infant, and consider a more mature version of ourselves, though this self comes in what might be considered another type of birth cycle, more or less at the time of adolescence. At this point, the self becomes a more important and defined concept, and the nature of that self grows more readily apparent. To oversimplify, one might say that to some, the self is a structure, and to others, an organism. For those who dwell in a structure of self, there is kindness and unkindness. For those who dwell in an organism of self, there is caring and uncaring. Those most disposed to kindness have a self in which they are glad to dwell. But, hence, by showing kindness, they show the coldness of those whose desire is a light covered, as it were, by the glass of their own breast.

Love has at its tips curiosity, and thus it is by this quality we most readily perceive it. To follow all of its strands to the center of caring (to those you love, there can be no kindness. Much as one may be predisposed to the self as structure, relationship demands a greater flexibility, an organic element. We are speaking here without making a careful definition of the furthest reaches of the conception of love), to follow those strands is difficult, but if, in the end, we cannot, love becomes monstrous in some way, and we shun that creature when we recognize it.

When, after all, we find love that is curious for us, and also caring towards us, we can be satisfied, like the children we are. When the childish self in us is satisfied, the parts of the self that have grown over this core are free to flower and fruit, like vines on a sturdy garden wall. If the child in us is not thus satisfied, it cannot escape being fearful.

I have come to believe that it is this fearful state which is the primary mark of what it means to be human. It is fear that drives us to a narrativity by which we attempt to condition experience. It is fear that makes us untruthful to ourselves, and leads us often to flee from the self and grow to hold our life an arms length away. Fear subverts the curious and fuels an insatiable craving to make answers. Fear subverts those who would love, and makes them kind. If you love someone, and get kindness back, fear is the coldness you perceive.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Transparency

Put the night behind your headlights.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

From Stonybrook Community Home

Stonybrook Community Home

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Seattle

To my brother

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

diogenes the younger

someone tell
the young
man out looking for the thing
in itself how moses hurled
law, back of his head glowing
like a lantern, and diogenes
with all his searching for an honest man
what else is he saying but he can't
trust himself?

swallow your light and keep it down
you give up your hermit
ways and you get into accounting
and an honest life is just dealing
with the things
around you

someone tell
him the best thoughts will come when
finishing up the dishes that don't fit
in the dishwasher

and
the man has to understand power
is not measured in how often you plug
the crapper.
some basic things
are built with fairly low tolerances.

Friday, December 07, 2012

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

what (10)we (9)discovered
is that the universe is just one thing
but the (8)extremely flexible
space-time
and powers of magnification


are astronomical


there is
one thing
not a joke, an interrogative
a very (7)earnest jest

the (6)answer unravels to cliche
in powers
of magnification


the sun rays skate across the lake
the slaked night waits
the universe is one thing
i will buy it for (5)you
when i run to the store
if you let me (4)have a little too


in the lunchroom
at 12:58
(3)infinity is the space between
the (2)second (1)hand jerk
in 4-5 wombs a baby's heart just kickstarted
some born to time
some between

Aphorisms

One must pay for joy
in the currency of forgiveness
though such coin
is scarcely ever rightly earned.

(Read that one again. See, it's tricky.)

There are some truths we hold
so we may know more,
and some we hold
so we may learn nothing.

tortured is the soul
which cannot keep a secret from itself;
noble is the soul
which does not try;
beautiful is the soul
for whom such secrets have ceased.


as an atom is filled with space,
so a moment is filled with eternity.

what holds together the universe
are stars whose light shines inward;
though it is earth's star 
which draws her life out of the dark




Friday, November 30, 2012

Short winter days

clouds that bring the snow leave the fairest rime

Short winter days


Monday, November 26, 2012

quantum history mechanics (or, world uncertainty principle)

tiny flags follow
cemetery wave
the cold wind
slips from the slits of sky
where the
warm currents rise
world
war three forms
and unforms
like dots on dice
uniformed particles
hold to formations at unknown
speed
between history and living memory






in depression gymn you lift heavy thing

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

let's not be embarrassed every time

the stars are lamps
of lost miners
the tunnel feels empty
sending ahead canary light

old folks
carry away living memory
just put my finger on
that missing thing at the estate sale
when the house smell is finally layered away
that's the last of it

so the world tuns inside
out and
they buried so many
under the ground
victims, victors
also nazis, bolsheviks
with eyes like
something that has
burned at a high temperature
a fine
white ash

you will see it turning out of the sky
where the faint silver veins
and fault lines lie

snow that filled the
evening like bullets of
gentler gods
bends down morning boughs

cold reaches through the window
like a handshake
well met, tomorrow
remind me of your name
let's not be embarrassed every time

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

stravinsky. first snow. gapon's lightbulb.

november
brittle in the air
around you might break.

and it might melt.

edison bulbs begin
replacing gaslight.
electric
west atlantic nights:

some sounds assure
the mind knows movements
the heart has never heard.

god save
the czar! was not
in his palace

november
lovely west hollywood.

white
silk glove baton
drops. player piano

do rite of spring!
magnificent your swirling
downbeats for the morning window.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

on the pass over october

this rain is close to snow
thick like pig fat

when it rains like that in the early morning
cross a bridge

when you look over the edge
if the rain pelts toward nothing
that is the womb of god

sleep if you forsake her you can feel the trickle of life slowly leaving your body
there is something dark in our blood

it is the food of the angel of death
she skims this off and we wake refreshed


Sunday, October 07, 2012

Elijah

Had a song rolling around for quite a few days:

Elijah

Friday, September 28, 2012

and a little autumn song

Pretty much after Devandra Banhart and Iron & Wine, I admit.

Spirit Close to Us

Thursday, September 13, 2012

autumn. weightless

when leaves first
are corked
and the moon holds nearest clouds
in harvest glow
released to the air
are

words of an 8 hour plus
coworker
who cares for an ailing spouse
weightless

that
is what she calls
today



later
i trigger
by my garage the motion
sensitive flood lights
one large moth

flickers the beam
in the way close wings
make shadows of big things

stars too dim to be seen
stay in constellation all night
pegasus,
since i was a boy,
too dim

evening facebook
is calming by
so many people
living and liking
staying connected

Friday, August 31, 2012

rain and the brown plastic bags

In the name of the rain and the brown plastic bags.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sister Moon

Sister Moon

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Coffee and the Meaning of Life

By the side of the highway the wild rose is in bloom.

Coffee and the Meaning of Life

Sort of reaching for a Tom Waits ballad. In a very ham-handed sort of way.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

gnome, in repose, August 2012

in the basement
of the swedish institute
my friend

points out a
gnome, seated,
in the foot and a half space
between the ceiling and the top
of the garish kakelugn

crossed ceramic knees
red-gartered
make knowing

immoble eyes
and the glazed lips
have a tiny curl
at the end
just before the brush
lifted away

perhaps
when you have sat
overseeing the same five
square feet of floor
since 1903

nothing seems simple
nor simply
ugly
and mirth
is the commonest beauty

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The unpardonable


is there anyone here
unperturbed
by the inner ear?

The scriptures speak of an unforgivable sin. I heard a sermon about this passage today. I think I understand what this means--I hadn't thought much about it for a long time.

We often think of ourselves as having potential to become even better versions of ourselves. I think we realize we might also become worse, but mistakes are usually dealt with as a misstep which helps us understand how better to continue on the path we are on, which is more or less a good one. By continually fleshing out the basic narrative of self-improvement, we cope with the people we are. If I am content, it seems possible to say that it is because nothing is barring me from triangulating my sense of self from the relative position of the person I wish to be and the person I think I actually am.

There will only be a few cases where making a mistake has consequences which disallow this generic narrative. Those cases are the uncomfortable times when I am made aware of the fact that one of my selves makes another more desirable self impossible. But of course, my awareness of such a consequence is of absolutely no issue toward whether, by a certain state of being, I have forever lost the path toward some other state of being.

I think of a short story by Gogol, in which a starving artist, who had the makings of a true maestro, takes a job doing a portrait (which pays well). Eventually, after doing hundreds of portraits, and growing rich, he realizes with horror that he can no longer paint anything except portraits. Any other painting he tries simply comes out in the form of the useless backdrops that fill the canvas around portraits. So, he realizes that he had but one chance to be a master, one stage in life during which that path was open.

In the same way, one realizes that there is a way to kill the soul but still to walk around for years, alive. To be more specific, it is possible to become deaf and blind to the divine. What is chilling to me is that this might be a permanent deafness and blindess. Just like the portait painter, I may understand what the sound of the divine should be. I might understand how my hand would move so as to paint the masterpiece. What is wrong is that I can no longer see the painting that must be painted. Analogously, when I arrive at the sin against the spirit, I can no longer triangulate a reality (perhaps not even a sense of self) out of a better self and the self which was breathing just a moment ago.

What is strange is how many ways it can seem right or necessary to go about dismantling the connection to the divine.

Friday, August 10, 2012

target, home depot, liquor store. MSP airport across hwy 72.

the jet
just when it first
flies
away from you
and sprinkler heads first spit
in unison
on mulched daylilly

there are no
sounds so
weary

in the parking lot
the people pass

a girl
with her two
best friends laughs
her new
hysterical laugh
she has no idea
what else to do

the night approaches
with its smoker's cough

does god forgive
if we simply misunderstand?

The circus

When did you have the time to make tunnels under the place?

Let's leave the circus.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Old Book Brigade

Return with whatever you can plunder.

The Old Book Brigade

Friday, August 03, 2012

afterlife, ante-life

someone says
at a funeral
i wish i would have known my mother
when she was young
and carefree

will my children have this wish?
it is a beautiful idea
in one way, to wish to know
a thing that requires you to cede
your existence

a funeral is the right place to feel this way
someone has just ceded their existence
in one way
and will begin to know
whatever there will be to know

the things that come after life, i think,
must be like the things that stray
into pictures from before we were born

like this one of grandma at 19 or so
on her bike
ready to go wherever she is going

which is a place
whose reality hangs
intermingled with the fact you are here
boxing up photos




Sunday, July 29, 2012

grandma grace

she would fret
in rivulets
but her laugh
washed in like an ocean wave

it surprised her too
you could tell, she would say "oh!"
just like a child ankle deep in the sea

it was best to tell her most things
after they were done
so she wouldn't have to worry over you

i went to see her
in hospice
only once

her mind was skipping through time
i was her brother, perhaps a neighbor
someone who might know where her father was
and what song he was singing
and whether they had taken the picture yet

i was glad anyway
to be able to say things to her
i guess i was waiting to say
until we wouldn't have to worry over it

i could see she was afraid to leave this world

i hope they let her
surprise grandpa john and uncle phil
up there talking blueprints and carpentry
and get into a little mischief after meeting

Thursday, July 26, 2012

here's what i'm going to do

here's what i'm going to do
i'm going to get real serious about life now

the thing is i'm just getting into these moral lessons
all the time they really hit me
like the things that make you happiest
make you saddest too

you see what i mean it's
all the time you tell me you had a really good apple
at lunch and i'm thinking how the best things
are this simple and every moment of this day
i'm going to eat right to the core

it's all about how to live
and if i drive past
pile ups i'll just break down
right there, and the guy smoking
thumb out and duffels dirty
there he is in the flesh, you hardly ever see
it anymore, and who knows, he could hitch a ride
with me and be in my car next, smelling like booze
and body, and telling me where he's trying to get to
but the real shifty thing is
i'd take him with me but the radio right now
is a man talking about his fight with cancer
and the sky is full of huge tumor clouds
i'm telling you this on-ramp is where i say my goodbyes
i'm sorry, i can't and
the evening is filling with crickets 
won't be still a minute

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

real enough

this was a real conversation
so there's not much point in reading it

it was something
i had in my early twenties
at a bus stop
it was with an old woman

to me, she was probably homeless
but the point is
you don't know this only by smell
and also as i said this was a real conversation
more like a sort of epigraph
in which she said everything was coming to an end
not with spittle, but spleen
or, really, with nothing at all
just the words off her back and i was
about 22 or so and i said sure maybe
it should

someone didn't
just come up with this
she had an actual scarf of brown
or green that was tied over
grey locks of wire
no one was sitting in the basement
at a keyboard making her tongue
rise against the roof of her mouth
and thwip behind two teeth
to elucidate that no everything shouldn't
some things shouldn't even though
even though they might

only a few things
good marriages
children being your own your only
couldn't finish that
but most stuff let go
at just the right time

it was right over there on 38th street
i was going to go back up
to school and see about you
i was happy too it's not like i was going to throw
myself in a river its not like
i was going to try to drink you whole
or wrap us up in rope
the kind of stuff people write in epistolary novellas
this was real, there was a little
grey down on her upper lip crossed by three lines
that allowed her mouth to be pursed whether it was
or not

i was only about 21 or 22 and i thought
it was beautiful and literary and thematic
just to go on living
for a few things you can't stand
to end but what i'm really saying is it was 
real enough, i can see that now

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Song for my daughters

Dance with me

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

mowing over the former flower bed

really gave me
a complex kind
of feeling. sort of
a victory like
take that ya darn weeds
but also an acute sense
of failure


my six horse
power briggs and
stratton mower
whirred its blunt
wings through green
hot mash


the handle hum
made my fingers
feel like silk
when i stopped to dump
the clippings

maybe the mowing sound put that boy
down the block
to sleep 
who likes
to keep shouting to his parents
questions
you can hear through
an open window

just kidding,
that's my kid

when i hear mowing i always
think of baseball
particularly the laziness of a hot
summer game

what he's going to think of
i have no idea
i hope it's something nice
like flower beds

Monday, July 09, 2012

to the person who put the liquor bottle in our recycling bin

what am i
supposed to think?
i might feel
outraged
like the neighbors
passing with their morning dogs
will see this glass
bottle
and think
"well, those folks sure like it
cheap and hard"

or i could commend
the act of conscience for our good earth
that must have been the
terminus
of a late night walk
swigging a skinny
brown
paper bag

it's even a bit heroic
in that condition
as you slur out
"can't
let this
go
to the land
the the
landfill"

but let's
be real about
these simple acts
of convenience

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Fairly sappy song

Lilly Flower

Thursday, July 05, 2012

conversation part III

when words
exit
there is a ripple

a little prayer on
it's long and graceful neck

or this tirade
whispered in the bathroom
ruffling every feather
of my breast

an earnest
flock of words
trying to migrate across 
the Himalayas
carefully watches where
the wind
blows

and how are the eagles
always above you?

they aren't trying
to go anywhere but higher
they just find
the right place and hold
their wings out
like idiots

when words return
to us
they come down gently
as a finch
or crash like waterfowl


or hold out
as long as they can
wingtip to wave
and stagger in on the beach
awkward as albatross  

a jogging death

i believe that
death is like this:
you open your door
to the warm night
and you begin to run

your face
goes slack eyes
half close
your mind bobs nearby
chattery voice 
indistinguishable
from the humid air

your feet
carry your body
like a boat
like a parade float
that fits the whole universe on it
and every living thing
is waving nicely to you

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

on conversation, part II

the lake
ripples at the frantic paddle
of feet
while the water slowly
releases

swans to the sky

in a moment
the lake is covered
in imperturbable blue cloth
the sky shed


for this evening
that is ripped by one long bank of cloud
into two parts

so simple
their emptiness is
a surpassing beauty

can something have flown 
from there?

on conversation, part I

the words
were spoken
like swans rising
from a north canadian lake

leaving ripples
and furrows
with their feet
until airborne

as they rose
their necks
arched
and stretched

to fly, i think,
is to swim
with great arms
into very thin water



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

sam

helped dig our new
raingarden

you see, the deep roots
of the prairie flowers
send rain through to
underground reservoirs
and the watershed gives the wiggling creek her breast

but this is about sam
because I swear without the furry beard
and bug bites between boot tops and jean shorts
his dark hair
would be passing you in a lexus
headed downtown

the spiderwart, sedge, and iris
hang like children from his hands

the pleasant strangeness
of the soil
makes you dig deeper
and the earth around holds upright
weird waxy caps
sweet birch and
blazingstar
in the direction of heaven

but this is about sam
because he seemed shyly
in love with the woman working with him
and after two days'
warm, light rain
you can almost
see these young plants unbending

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

margaret gets dropped off from Sunday evening church

margaret
the neighbor
shuffling up her steps in
her white throw
her hands around her white straw hat
greets me with her shaky voice like old piano notes 
she likes to send
evenings through the windows

do the beautiful
come to look like this
bodies nearly doubled
and eyes like children?

beauty
is the hope of being 
better
that was the first 
idea that came to mind

or perhaps this:
beauty is
what you don't know yet
your finger makes it ripple
notes from an old piano
30 years un-tuned

sounds just fine
wandering between
tires shushing
from portland ave
it's a song with a tune i can't quite follow

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cold Fire Blues

Pale fire

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Elena at Lake Harriet band shell

the absence of the afternoon
rain
left the evening
with a golden glow
thrown over the road all the way to the lake

we biked around the water
passing people who seemed posed
"enjoying
a moment by the lake together"
while in my heart
I was happily arranging
father feelings

that's not to say
this was not real
or as true
as we could make it

but it was another thing
that you did
when we stopped for a few free songs
from the orchestra in the band shell
and you got up and stretched out your arm
and slowly, slowly revolved with the music


almost
the whole visible world
seemed to pivot at the spot you marked


daughter
how will we learn
about these things?
at 30 I've forgot
and you don't yet know
the things you know

Friday, June 15, 2012

hack minstrel

When we part ways

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dan lived out there for over a year in the late 70's

i believe it was
for the sheer spectacle of
the open sky

for the length
the wyoming sun goes on and on
going down

i believe it was
the lack of underbrush

out there, it's already been cut in
and there are just one or two things
that you can go on thinking over
for a long, long while

with the sky for a roof
there is no homelessness
and some analogous situation
exists for heartlessness

you can work it out

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Mountain Goats

I'm coming home now

Thursday, May 17, 2012

to my old friends

My Old Friends

to all my old friends
wherever you are
i wonder what you're doing now
i hope you've found a way to pin down happiness and those temporary things
and the hope in your heart has folded up it's wings
and i hope each day brings you closer
to the people that you are
and i hope in a way it might be true
that that's the same as the people that i knew

i'm sorry when i was younger i was looking out for myself
and i'm sorry when i was younger i thought too much of myself
i wish i could go back and listen to your every word
to show you all i care and to show you that i heard
when i meet new people now it's always a surprise
they always seem to have your smile, your laugh, and your eyes

i'm sorry that i haven't tried harder to keep in touch
and that if we met up to talk there probably wouldn't be much
to say now that would really feel that new
at a certain point it seems we just go on doing the same things that we do
but i hope that each day brings you closer
to the people that you are
and i hope there is some way that it could be true
that you could be even more like the people that i knew

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the cicadas

i

when the cicadas
came early
it was not early, the thaw
was already deep

the cicadas
have muscular legs
they will burrow
in the ground
deeper than six feet

the cicadas fly
as if digging their way
through the air
as if
they are always
hoping to hit
something solid

the cicada women
thrust through tree bark to
tuck in their eggs
they work like bankers
all night

the cicadas
come in sufficient numbers
to a place
so that no enemy
has the appetite to eat them all

ii

on the night of the cicadas
i had told you
it is possible
there may be a kind
of permanent
sadness

i went out hurriedly
to mow what i could
of the slickening lawn
in the half-darkness
my mind
became fascinated
with the first line of
"man of constant sorrow"
i sang under my breath
over and over
and the cicadas
pelted my shins
that were wet
and stained bright green
with clippings
when i came back in

i sat down
to tap all this out
for a poem
and my little girl
upstairs
started coughing, crying,
gasping for air, chest
retracting until we could calm her down,
panicked, driving to the ER
changing our minds
because she seemed ok again
sitting up with her and
falling asleep slumped in chairs
with our hands
in each others until they started to get
sweaty and uncomfortable

iii

in the morning
the ground is thick
with cicada skins
they just left
them there
the permanent things

i want to tell my children
try to write
try to pile your words up
for the morning
to shine through
that's all, no other reason
why
and if you find
sometime that you are flying
just let the air
be air



Saturday, May 05, 2012

to a turtle, lake valentine

that your kind
has survived
millenia
never fails to bring me hope

it may be
the weight
it is so easy to accumulate
around your soft spots
has its uses

and there is an element
in which it no longer
matters

one thing
you cannot tell
is how to find
the way back out

on your log
that just skims
above the reams of algae
you are ready
at any moment
to slide under
millenia
your kind
has survived, survived

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

there is no living backwards

love is not
usually wasted
though it may seem lost
there is no living backwards
there is no way
to be less
there is only more of one kind
or another

even the orangutan
who has the best reason to hold tightly
lets go to move
from tree to tree
swimmer of the leaves

let's even be trite: the oyster
who had thought
that life had made a hard place in her
may find eventually some hand will
remove it with one small cut

those that find it easy
to love everything they see
must learn about this
how many of them are so bitter
you could never guess about their
tender hearts.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

from this infant

From this infant
2:15am
it is a simple gift
worth waiting sleepless for
that she should sleep better
in my arms