Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hard Pressed

I am breaking from my usual practice today. I feel my limits more than usual.

This morning I read a passage from The Path To Bliss written by the Dalai Lama in which he points out that the universal only appears in particulars in our experience, that this applies to teachers and students of awakening as much as anything else. Thus the presence of God Incarnate on the planet, even that, is ever and always deniable by those who cannot see. He points out that the message delivery, being particular even if the message is perfectly universal, can only succeed with those already prepared to receive it in just the way it is given. He calls this preparation the karmic bond between souls.

That is why there must be many teachers of enlightenment. It is not enough that I am ready to receive, in itself miraculous. As well there must be a teacher or a teaching intimate enough that the message would seem to rise up from within me, as if a memory.

Hard Pressed

He cast his salt on
the seasons of nearby souls,
knowing only some
would receive from him,
those who have traveled in his
company, dancing
with him through ages.

Though my heart's universal
my armor is stone,
my salt has true grit,
and I'm hard pressed against my
limited presence.

October 31, 2009 7:33 AM

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Way Through

I am not a fan of A Course In Miracles. I have read both Gary Renard and Marianne Williamson. I very much like what Marianne has to say on many topics. It is clear that forgiving is the key to miracles. With that I agree. It is a radical calling. Love is transformed when forgiveness is free flowing. If you have a problem with loving, it is almost certainly an issue with forgiveness failing or lacking that is the problem. Sometimes it is as simple as waking up. Sometimes it is the whole life walk that is required.

It occurs to me as I write, afflicted with a life threatening pain, that it is probably a forgiveness issue too. I am overweight. This has contributed to my condition. Obesity too is a forgiveness issue. I know this because when I look at solutions bitterness rises. Forgiveness is the antidote to bitterness.

The worst blockage to forgiveness I ever encounter is my certainty. There is no forgiveness in this attitude, cannot be. I am certain I am right. You ask if I am prepared to die defending this hill. How much of me instantly says yes to that? I don't even have to start my defense. I have already lost.

A Way Through

I need an open
door at this point, a way through
the wall I have built
holding intentions
corraled, herded together
behind resentment,
wariness, distance,
uncertainty, deep dismay.
I need a passage,
a safe place to walk.
When I ask it you say I'll
get that when I learn
to forgive.

February 21, 2009 4:01 PM
Modified October 30, 2009 7:38 PM

Thursday, October 29, 2009


The grass is always greener. What if I was a bug?

I don't know, perhaps I was feeling more vulnerable than usual.


If I could expose
my bones, wear them outside me,
then I could be soft
through and through, secure
in this bumpy ride we have.
I could paint myself
in psychedelic
colors, graffiti to show
my true views, my love.

February 21, 2009 9:11 AM

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Tell You Three Times

This is one of the prescriptives, of which I have very few, but this is a key magic. The power of words, incantatory, must be based on principles and this is one of them. I tell you three times. Saying a thing once may have effect, but no matter how powerful the idea, the effect is unpredictable. Saying it twice reveals the passion. Saying it three times releases the inner power if it is there. This saying cannot be complex in essence and is better if it is not complex in the words themselves. Do not use the passive voice. Assert. Say it as clearly and succinctly as possible, and if it cannot come clear and succinct, then wait until it can. Be careful of your audience as well. It is better to not say a thing of power than to say it in front of those who cannot hear. This does, however, not mean that everyone must hear. Those who can hear, let them hear.

I Tell You Three Times

This is a truth of
open spirit, this threeness,
triune spell of love
given, trident to
the heart of the fallen world
that impregnates those
who are ripe for it
and even rings the wind chimes
of those still not ripe.

February 20, 2009 4:54 PM

In My Blood

Where I don't feel so much connection to Britain's present, I do feel it to the past. I am told I am related to Scottish royalty, to Robert De Bruce through my father's lineage. When I read John Michell's View Over Atlantis there was a stirring in my heart. I don't really know what to do with such things. I love the Ley lines, feel there is really something to them (but what??). I am too well trained in our scientific disciplines to easily entertain alternate sciences, but I am too much a poet to not give credence to the fantastic. I have one foot in both worlds. Last February there were serious archeological articles appearing that tied Woodhenge and Stonehenge together.

There is Woodhenge and Stonehenge within walking distance and the tracings of the path, which includes the nearby water. The path goes to the water from Woodhenge broadly, then along the water, then is discernable as a straight track to Stonehenge from the water. The living quarters were near Woodhenge and it is now surmised that there was a ritual interconnection of life(wood and village) and death (stone and solitude), that this was the first use and that this use continued in later iterations, though the astronomical placements seem clear as well. The astronomy may well be related to the spirit realms.

In My Blood

I, immersed in time
like drowning in deep water
walk the living path
from wood to stone, there
to worship the dead, and back
to wood to praise life,
both henges my own
by right of birth, by divine
right, by right of blood.

February 20, 2009 2:18 PM

Monday, October 26, 2009

Or Maybe My Eyes Are Dumb

I have suffered a disaster. I had hoped to return to work. Now I know I can't. I tried. I had to walk to get to places to do my work, couldn't just sit there. I left at 2, defeated, in too much pain to even concentrate. I am not very much better now. Too much walking has left a residue of pain and wiped out any gain I may have made over the last week of staying home. I have placed the table leaf under my couch cushion to stiffen the "bed" (I am using my couch because I can elevate my legs better). I had to call my boss and say all this, offer to get out of the way. I will stay home tomorrow and probably go in the next day to hand my work off to someone else. That means I may not get back to work for a while, just because there won't be any with someone else doing it. But I won't be returning for a while anyway because I can't physically do it. Terrible. I have no idea how long this back thing is going to take.

In the meantime, unrelated, they have me on a 24 hour blood pressure monitor (every 20 min. or so) to see if they can better time when I should take my heart meds. This all makes me sound like some kind of invalid. I don't feel like one in most ways.

This back thing is just too odd. I don't understand how it started (somehow in my sleep) and it is most like sciatica but then not really. I can twist and bend and do all the things I would think I shouldn't be able to do. I am not any more "stiff" than usual. I just can't walk very far without the pain starting and then building to the yelping level. It doesn't even really shoot down my leg much like it is supposed to, just sits in my hip quietly and manageably until I walk too far (which of course is not far at all).


I am not sure of my ground here. Don't ask me what this poem means. As noted, this is a poem from February, and not about my situation now. I have no idea what it could have been about then. I can say in general I am a rather good photo subject. My deceased wife on the other hand was one of those unfortunates. She was a plain woman verging on pretty in some ways, but almost never took a good photo. For every good photo of her there were at least ten that lied about her, made her look awful. For me, I think one in three or four make me look decidedly better than I am in person, and most of the rest match me. Sometimes I look like a dog. That would be true of everyone. The camera eye is strange that way. I am told television is worse for many but I wouldn't know. Whenever I have seen myself on tv, I think I look like me.

The voice recorder is another thing. I hate my recorded voice pretty much, don't think it sounds like me, hope, really hope it doesn't. Anyway, I can't give a context to this poem. I can say it is one I rather like though.

Or Maybe My Eyes Are Dumb

My thumb is too fat,
my fingers much too rigid
and anyway I
find this shot very
unbecoming to the fine
shape of my glad hand.

Maybe you've taken
an allegory, my hand
standing for some clod.

February 20, 2009 10:22 AM

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Walking On Eggshells

Sometimes, life gets intense. I spent two years at one point feeling like I was on thin ice or as I call it here, walking on egg shells. I could have said going through the mine field. Actually it was only eighteen months. I woke up from my habits at two years and realized the power was out of my situation and had been for about six months. I was so used to living the way I was that I continued for half a year needlessly, not even really understanding what I was doing. At least when I woke up it was easy then to drop the attitude.

Walking On Eggshells

I spent so long on
eggshells that I got fairly
good at no more than
cracking them some
as I took this newer path
out of the mean woods
of my wasted life.
I did have to pick shards out
of my feet sometimes.

February 20, 2009 10:11 AM

Saturday, October 24, 2009

First Things First

Here is something to ponder, I guess. In AA's Big Book there is a section which offers a model of good living in one day. That whole section begins, "upon retiring at night..." Ever since this was pointed out to me as prescriptive I have pondered and tried to think of my life that way. This means my day is about a third over when I am getting up in the morning. It means that my day is nearly over now as I write. It also means that sleep is not separate from my day but is the start of it. As such sleep is not in the way but an important first step. Sleep itself as a practice. I rather like this upside down way of looking at the day. I think Bill Wilson had something when he organized the day like that. I wonder if he was carrying a tradition forward, since there was a Christian group practice (the Oxford Group) where he spent some time before and in the early days of AA. AA began in association with the Oxford Group, though that association did not last long.

I have never heard of anyone offering this way of looking at a day anywhere else. It is not overtly offered that way in the Big Book either, not specifically said, do this. It is just written that way. That, my friends is how esoteric knowledge may sometimes be transmitted. It is offered in the open but not emphasized. As Jesus said, more than once, "those who have ears, let them hear."

First Things First

You say, First Things First.
They say sunrise, noon, sunset
midnight then sunrise,
But I say sunset,
that is first for me by far,
or moonrise, Venus
as the evening
star, that is first in my life,
descent into sleep,
then dreams of places
further than my breath, then all
the others follow.

February 20, 2009 8:35 AM

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Curvature Of Nature

Here's a real lesson, I believe. Manifest reality works in ragged lines, often curved, never perfect. Human brains like straight lines, instinctively know that they are the shortest distances, and without sophistication will expect the flatness they see to the horizon is the truth of things. Humans want things in the world to work just like brains do. And they do, sort of, once you get past the illusions. But humans like to hang out and fool around and not take so much responsibility too if they can. In these matters they don't have time between getting food, fighting and fucking. Raising kids just like them. And all the other things they get involved in. They don't have time to see clear, would rather see straight because it is so much easier. Besides, it's close enough for government. You get a C on the test, you pass, even though the price may be high, but you can't have an omelet without breaking eggs, now can you? Often humans hate other humans who see better and will persecute them. We all know the usual examples of that. Especially in America, we like technology but not the nerds and geeks who produce it, like science but deeply distrust scientists who might be able to tell us how to live safely on the planet, and now we are paying the price as China and India grow better scientists than we have.

I like poetry. I think poetry is very often reminiscent of the true short lines of nature, the ones that curve all over the place and take us home more certainly than those God damned straight jacket lines of the people who think they need to run things.

The Curvature Of Nature

The best lines nature
offers are curved and crooked
like the veins in leaves,
and in our bodies,
like the paths that rivers take.
Why then should we think
that good lives are straight,
that good men should be upright,
I be an arrow?

February 20, 2009 8:09 AM

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zero Sum

A zero sum game cannot happen in infinite surroundings. This I think is one primary difference between God's world and the world He permits. The failure of love is often zero sum on the planet, because partners don't agree that love should be over. Love turns out to be a finite resource. Someone is left holding the bag while conceivably the other gains. Love does not appear infinite here. A huge portion of popular music wouldn't work if the failures of love were not a zero sum game.

Zero sum thinking has led in the social sciences to social trap thinking. A social trap is where everybody wins for a while and then everybody loses because the activity self destructs, like using up all the available oil may turn out to have been a social trap if there is no way out of the crash as it runs out. That's another form of zero sum. The solution to zero sum is to go somewhere else, if you can. Or else simply suffer through it and come out the other end better or worse depending on alternatives and flexibilities and attitudes.

Zero Sum

Could it be my fate
to curl inward whenever
the wind blows like this?
I have holes where you
should be, where the world whistles
through me, where I feel
the edges freeze if
I do not tightly hold round
shape and roll away.

February 18, 2009 9:58 PM

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mirror Spells

I am stuck at home, on a temporary regime of Prednisone and rest for the sciatica that has afflicted me for a couple weeks as an aftermath of my hospital stay in May. I have grown pensive and tender, more than usual, find myself grieving at odd moments. That is not so unusual, I think. By this time in a life there are sufficient things to grieve built up from the first disappointments to now. What I have learned about grief (and many other weighty topics) is that you never really finish them and that each old grief tacks onto the new, that in this way grief stops being a harsh new song but an older symphony. That is why it seems to me very good if I make peace with all my losses. Then I can be transported by the beauty of the symphony rather than crushed under the heaviness of my surround.

At the same time, Prednisone makes me hungry and itch and not sleep. The pain is less, but I understand that really does not give me permission to stress my body with normal things. I am better sitting carefully, and even better lying down with my left thigh close to the sitting position.

I ran into something that I am trying to bend my heart around, that I may hold it close. I will share it here.

Just This Much

Full attention is both an activity of learning and the actualization of unconditional love. It is this selfless, choiceless love that heals the illusion of separateness, brokenness, and alienation, yielding a gratification, faith and confidence not dependent on external or internal conditions beyond our control. Practice-Life is the dynamic activity of bringing full attention to what is presenting itself most clearly in the awareness for as long as it is there, and with deepening simplicity and joy, knowing just this much!
-Douglas Phillips


Mirror Spells

Fairy tales are dark
like the heart of oldest woods,
like hatred and fear.
You look in mirrors
enchanted by wizened witches
expecting to see
your true shape within
but see only spells cast not
even on you but on
the mirrors so that
they twist the view cleverly.
Don't forget that fact.
It is not your fear
nor your hatred but beauty
seen through putrid spells.

February 18, 2009 9:46 PM

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Seashell

My poem here is two Fibs joined as one. I insist on magic. One of the magical mathematics of living structure is what we call the Fibonacci Sequence. This sequence is represented graphically in many of the spirals found in seashells and the placement of sunflower seeds in their heads, and in many flower petal arrangements.

Wiki says:

Fib is an experimental Western poetry form, bearing similarities to haiku, but based on the Fibonacci sequence. That is, the typical fib and one version of the contemporary Western haiku both follow a strict structure. The typical fib is a six line, 20 syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8 - with as many syllables per line as the line's corresponding place in the Fibonacci sequence; the specific form of contemporary Western haiku uses three (or fewer) lines of no more than 17 syllables in total. The only restriction on a Fib is that the syllable count follow the Fibonacci sequence. An example of a typical fib:

Spiraling mixture:
Math plus poetry yields the Fib.
— Pincus, Gregory K.

John Frederick Nims discussed the form as early as 1974, in his excellent introduction to poetry, Western Wind. The fib was brought to much wider public attention by Gregory K. Pincus on 1 April 2006. His blog has been the center of this new form of poetry. After Pincus published his blog on Fibs, they began appearing widely on the internet. Pincus wrote on his blog, "To my surprise (and joy), I continue to find new threads of Fibs popping up all around the Web. I've seen Fibs in over a dozen different languages, and I'd also note that today a cat left a post in the comments of The Fib, joining a priorly poetic dog, so I think it's safe to say that Fibs travel well."

The Seashell

shall match
the spiral
climbing down the slope
and reaching for you at the end.

Then I shall hold you close and rise
back up the golden
curve to stand

February 18, 2009 8:24 PM

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Reading Your Poem

I am surrounded in blogland with terrific poets. This is a poem about a poet, a poet in some trouble, it would seem. I don’t know what poetry means to all of you. One way I use poetry is to write myself out of a corner. Or into one, I suppose.

On Reading Your Poem

If you were deeper
than this, more compact, you'd be
As it is, you are
breathtaking in your terse words
and approachable.
I fear for your plight
now, after the fact of it,
feel the squirt
of your juicy orange.

February 18, 2009 1:36 PM

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Have Promised You

Oddly, this next poem goes quite well with a comment that Wine & Words left on my last post. When I think about life in general, I have the idea that free will has to be involved. I have seen my cats, for example dither over a decision, and make mistakes, and learn so I know that you have to descend further down the food chain to find life so constrained that that there is no such thing as choice. Actually, watching birds, I get the same assurance. I am not completely sure about flies, but I am about cockroaches. So you have to go further than insects to wipe out all free choice. I am comfortable saying so.

When I look at my own life, however, I get another sense. I have often written here of it. I am a creature of destiny. However I tell the story, whatever is actually true, I feel certainly constrained such that I am more like the river of this poem, turbulent but not flooding, at least not usually. I have lived my whole life under a sense of destiny, but also fully admitting that I have no real clue what that can mean.

I have fashioned a personal myth. I accept it as myth and feel I would be mad to try to reify it further, but have found I cannot live without some explanation. When I found out that “God loves to be used” as Eric Butterworth said, I relaxed quite a bit about such things. It is now my opinion, not that anything goes but that instead the river is amazingly complex within its banks. I also feel secure in that I am protected, constrained within the banks (like my name Noordwal) and that I am certainly connected with the sea.

Thus as a creature of free will, even so, I have to exert major energy, somehow flood myself, in order to actually get lost. Confusion and willful disobedience however are other matters. If I relax and do not continue to resist, I wind up back within my banks. That seems to be my experience.

I am fearful sometimes that if I don’t get it together, I may never recognize my arrivals at all the blessings along the way. Recognizing blessings, the gift of maturity. However, it is obvious the ocean will be unmistakeable. In that sense, I know where I am going, it is not somewhere I chose, and while it is conceivable that I can rebel for a while, it wouldn't be easy to make my rebellion last for long, because it fights a kind of gravity. Only the tides of lunacy lift me :) That is Sun (Sol) warms me, gives me solace in his gravity and Moon (Luna) stirs me with her companion gravity.

I realize this may not be everyone's experience. It is mine. I wrote that I would be mad to try to get this vision further than poetry, to reify it. I would also be mad to deny my experience because I should conform to some dogma about first things.

I Have Promised You

I feel the path move
all on its own, like the flow
of a constrained stream,
turbulent, rushing,
or as if it has its own
will, changing its shape
according to dreams
I do not dream, cannot guess.
I act this way, act
with apparent heart
only as I can, as it seems
possible for me.
The choices are not
mine except as they arise
along the living way.

February 18, 2009 9:28 AM

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jumping Around

"To conquer illusion and hope, without being overcome by terror: this has been the whole endeavor of my life these past twenty years; to look straight into the abyss without bursting into tears, without begging or threatening, calmly, serenely preserving the dignity of man; to see the abyss and work as though I were immortal."
- Nikos Kazantzakis

While this would seem to be the statement of a Humanist and an Existentialist, I am neither or rather I am both and far more. I happen to believe that Kazantzatkis was a spiritual man however he framed it. What he lost patience with was the shallow, inauthentic people, and there are plenty of those who profess in some religion or other. People who take issue like Kazantzakis did (cf his novel The Last Temptation Of Christ) often leave religion behind but commonly with deep regret, for they wish that religion could pass muster. I would be one of those people except for the turning point in my experience when I turned twenty-one. I would have been one of those people if I could have survived without that turning point. It seems to be my experience that somehow God is really absent for many people, and the call to faith simply fails with them. It cannot be otherwise. Humanism arises among these people, though there are other sources for Humanism too. Nikos was certainly a Humanist.

I so admire him that one time our cat, Carl Sigmund Cat (yes, Jung and Freud, and most often known by his middle name, Sigmund) brought home a cat enough like him that he could have been a brother. We kept that cat and of course we named him Nikos Kazantzakis Cat. Nicky. When Nicky died, he was devastated by disease. The last thing I did was have the vet give him a biopsy of his kidneys. We found him full of tumors. I just hated that. What a waste, to cut that cat open and then to put him down. I have never felt good about that. I should have gone with my instinct rather than the "scientific logic" of the situation. I knew he was going to die. I fell short because I didn't want him to. Sin. I did not have to invade him like that. Shit.

I really relate to that quotation. I am deeply committed to God as I understand God. I see no conflict with that quotation and wish I had said it.


There are two astrological signs which this next poem might be about. Cardinal Air, and Mutable Air, Libra and Gemini. This feels more Libran to me because there seems to be too much free choice in it. Cardinal people are choosers. Mutable people are responders.

Jumping Around

I have sliced apart
the core of my life, cut it
in two halves. I jump
to one side, there see
the other, the oddities
found deep in that half,
or jump again, see
the other side of my life.
This way, back and forth,
I get to rocking
in greater pitches - soon I'll
upend and spill out.

February 17, 2009 4:02 PM

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not Too Happy Right Now

This poem is somewhat appropriate for the state of my union. I am currently waiting out a bout of sciatica on the left side of my body. I had this trouble on the right side fifteen years ago or so. I am convinced this current left side sciatica is a longer term effect of the circumstances of the heart event I had in May.

I spent way too long on the hard cot you find in the emergency room and ambulance settings. That made my left leg go numb in the same way that my right leg has been numb since the eighties. I made my complaint and relearned the familiar lesson, that doctors really have no solution short of the radical intervention of surgeries that often don't work, even make things worse. The doctor said the numbness would go away. Of course it didn't. Instead it has transformed into a vicious stabbing pain. I can get around so long as I am willing to take it on. I am also fortunate that when I sit the pain stays at an easily managed level mostly. That means I can work anyway. Because I am on a blood thinner and will be for another seven months, I am not allowed NSAIDs and that doesn't help. Tylenol is basically useless. Not too happy right now.

Not Too Happy Right Now

I get desperate
looking at my legless life,
hating to depend
on you to move me,
fearful you don't care enough
to come in some need,
some emergency,
some bug on my unscratched nose.
I ache for life flight.

February 17, 2009 9:28 AM

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Last Wolf, Coyote Grief

I am going to post two poems about the end of the world. One is mine, one by Mary Tallmountain. Ms. Tallmountain's poem is one I chose to read at an evening reading at the Carnegie Center in Oregon City a couple years ago. It sticks in my heart and pains me. I took my turn.

The Last Wolf
Mary Tallmountain

The last wolf hurried toward me through the ruined city.
I heard his baying echoes down the steep smashed warrens
of Montgomery Street and past the ruby-crowned highrises
left standing, their lighted elevators useless -

Passing the flicking red and green of traffic signals,
He bayed his way eastward in the mystery of his wild loping gait.
Closer were his sounds in the deadly night through the clutter
and rubble of quiet blocks.

I heard his voice ascending the hill
and at last his low whine as he came, floor by empty floor,
to the room where I sat in my narrow bed looking west,
waiting, I heard him snuffle at the door and I watched.

He trotted across the floor.
He laid his long gray muzzle
on the spare white spread
and his eyes burned yellow.
His small dotted eyebrows quivered.

Yes, I said.
I know what they have done.

from Light on a Tent Wall, 1990
University of California, Los Angeles, CA


Coyote Grief

That's when the night stilled,
hardened, and the tight stars choked
and fell to flat earth,
dead embers. The sky
was no longer black, dim gray.

Coyote's sadness
is deeper than hope.

She snuffs at dead stars amazed,
confused, wants to put
them back, cannot reach
that high, to the dim flat sky.
Her howl tears her throat.

February 17, 2009 9:11 AM

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Moment On The Path

I have nothing more to add to this one. Well, a little, I guess. Just that it is always and ever a collaboration.

A Moment On The Path

I feel it coming,
this upwelling rush of heat
from deeper inside
than I have ever
gone on my own, rising up
to meet the thunder,
the lightning descent,
the presence of you nearby
in the phosphor light.

February 16, 2009 9:35 PM

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Think You Are An Angel

This is a personal poem and I shall not myself reveal who I wrote this about.

I will take this opportunity to say that someone has recently said she thought I was an angel. I looked at that seriously in my twenties. How arrogant is that!? If I am an angel then I have been stripped and flensed and blocked. I have no sense of it. I do have a sense of otherworldliness that somehow has a very different relationship with God. Where we take it for granted that you can't argue with God, in my inner space there is a kind of memory of a place where you certainly can argue with God and I did so. I claim there is a sense at least temporarily that I won. What I won was the right to proove it, whatever it was I was arguing about. That's what this life seems to be for me.

I am here to proove a point. I do not understand the argument and think I actually can't without seeing with very different eyes, but I know I am rightly placed for it, this point of contention. I also think I am here out of turn because of it, would not have been in this life if this argument had not occurred. My life is both easier in some ways and also more difficult in others because of that. My inner resources are different, but my sense of belonging is woeful. First I had to learn to survive somehow the transition to adulthood. That took til about 26. Then I had to smash a kind of arrogance. That took til about 35. Finally, I had to leave the crutch of alcoholism behind. For me that was easy but only because the discipline that it takes is easy. That took til 54, but really is still in progress in the way that I still constantly bring it up. It is far more normal for a guy like me to be a gutter drunk or dead.

The long history of angels as they appear in our cultures, they are the manifestations of the adoration of God. It would seem that while it makes sense to speak of our self centered and self willed freedom to choose and to act, it does not make sense to speak of angels this way. They are God centered in a complete (perfect?) way. Thus I am left with an observation. If I am an angel, I am a fallen one. Whoa. Does this mean something? Perhaps. If it does, then perhaps Lucifer is not such a bad guy. I am no Lucifer, but then maybe our understanding of Lucifer is twisted too. I believe I have God's support. So I think does Lucifer. Think about that. How can it not be so? We are told Lucifer is in rebellion but how can that be true without God's permission? That, for example, is one facet of the story of Job, that there is a running relationship between God and Lucifer, and in the end we are instructed that it is beyond human understanding. Hmmm.

I don't know about you, but I really hate being told things are beyond me. Yet there it is. There are things square in the middle of my life that are beyond me. Lack of power of all kinds, including the power of understanding is my dilemma. I cannot avoid it, must admit it. Even all the way back to that moment when I was reminded of who I am, the sacred moment that made it possible for me to survive my path into adulthood, I have to admit I do not understand what the fuck happened. So I am radically dependent. I am dependent on you and the others in my life, I am dependent upon God. All else is pretense. If I am to accept the truth of free will it has to keep this dependency in place or else I will lose purchase on any sort of wisdom. Horns of the dilemma. Free will is self evident both from inclination within and experience in the world. I am a radically dependent man correctly intent on holding up my end of the bargain. That is the proper use of the will. I cannot drop either end of this deal without also losing any authenticity that can be mine.

This may all be complete crap. Probably. I don't care that this is not factually true, whatever that means. Frances, my last lover is certain that this is a cute story I tell myself and it really doesn't affect anything I do in my life. She smiles at me indulgently. It is self indulgence. Maybe. I know it doesn't matter to you that I keep this story, tend it, get better at telling it. Something happened to me that changed everything. That much is certain.

I Think You Are An Angel

I think you are an angel
not one so holy and distant
but here in my heart now
with words and words
that don't belong to me
these words you let out into the world.
Let out like the Northern Lights
across the sky
they reach me here
where I was feeling so silent.
I step into the glow.
And somehow now I
see differently.

February 16, 2009 9:14 PM

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Squirrel Died

This is sort of a true story. Mostly. This cat in my poem was the last old cat that I brought here from my old life, where I lost my wife to illness and alcoholism and divorce, and finally death. The cat was part of a pair of sisters we bought at a pet store because they were too cute together and my wife and I feared they would be separated. Annie and me, we tended to do things like that.

It turned out that they never did dote on each other, these sister cats, had no apparent special need for each other at all, not like our boys.

We had done this before with two red tabbie striped males. One was more adventurous than the other and the one more shy obviously needed his brother. His brother tolerated him, was clearly fond of him. But he also took risks, and one day he didn't return home. His shy brother went a little crazy in grief, changed, became as these needy cats do more difficult to live with. I am sure he didn't remember his brother after a while, but some of his grief behavior stuck with him, became frozen and in this way he never got over losing his brother.

When my last old cat, the one in this poem, lost her sister who died of illness quite young, I didn't notice any overt grief behavior. But what happened to her, when I moved here, she objected big time to losing her old house. That's what turned her. She was a place cat. She had established herself there and she didn't really like it here. She let me know. Over time she adjusted to the garage but insisted that the house was to be her toilet. I could never let her in for long and I had to keep track. This broke my heart. I wanted her to be an indoor cat but that just didn't work at all.

The Squirrel Died

A squirrel came in
to die in a nest it made
in a bag at the back
under the shelf there
in my garage. I don't know
how long it lived there
before passing but
my cat also lives on pads
I lay down for her
in the garage. There
was no bad sign, not at all.
We are both glad though,
my old cat and me,
that I found it and the smell
is gone. That was bad.

February 16, 2009 2:07 PM

Friday, October 9, 2009


Hmmm. Yesterday I posted from the River Styx. In this poem I am up a tree, arguably trying to piss up a rope, a little green man to boot. This is of course the very next poem, written just a half hour later than the poem calling for someone to kill me now. So I guess I was in an odd mood in mid February.

I am reading the recent bio of John Lennon, that huge 800 page book. I ran into something wonderful that I never knew before. It changes my history. In Liverpool there is a street called Lime Street. There was a famous prostitute called Maggie May and she worked Lime Street. Uh oh. It turns out that Maggie figured in a popular English folk ballad.

I once fell for a lady named Katy. This was back in 1970. In 1970 I was fresh back from East Pakistan (Bangladesh). I was a student part time at San Jose State, later named Cal State U at San Jose, worked a little and sold dope to stay alive and keep myself in dope. I lived with my dealer, a smuggler and student, in a dope house south of the campus, on South 12th St. The Dooby Brothers lived up the street at the time. Oddly, there were two roommates with us who didn't do much dope, and a lady who lived upstairs in a separate apartment in the house who was clean too. It was just that way in those days, with people mingling and not worried about it.

Katy came into my life looking to buy some pot. She walked into my room, me never having met her before, I was in my underwear, boxers. I didn't care and apparently neither did she. She slayed me just like that. I was hers, if she wanted me. This is all a really complex story and of course it didn't work over the long haul. She was married and trying to leave her husband who was substantially younger than she was. They had intended to be a rock and roll band. That didn't work, and neither did their marriage, but he was really in love with her. I was a year younger than her too, but of course several years older than him. So when Rod Stewart came out with his hit Maggie May, I sang it to her along with the radio. "The sun in your face really shows your age, but that don't matter, to me you're everything." Amen. She got really angry. She did not take jokes like that very well.

Now Maggie May turns into a famous Liverpudlian prostitute. Wow. I had no idea. I guarantee you that Rod Stewart did though. Now I wonder how many people here in the states got that thing at the time. That was a really big song here. If it was as big in England, I am sure it was big in a different way because of the folk song.

This thing with Katy was a big thing for me, and in a curious way anchored the part where I was going to move to Oregon if I could. That's a whole other story. Maggie May is a big song for me because of Katy.


I'm trapped here again,
hornswoggled little green man,
hung by the hemp rope
treed and upended.
You claim I'm upright looking
at it with God's eyes
but blood rushing down
reddens my admitted bad eyes
and I still feel down.

February 15, 2009 11:36 AM

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Using My Last Match

I have no idea what this was all about. I was under some pressure because my lay off had been going on for a while. But I have succeeded in placing myself in the position to handle lengthy time off. Since I had the heart event I have noticed my own mortality statements in a different way and wonder if I was noticing my approaching issue at some level, sensing what was to come in May.

If I am really at that place where I die, then hurry up and do it quickly.

I know my body instinctively struggles to stay alive. I have lived through enough stuff to know I don't have to pump up any false positive to convince myself to stay alive. However, I also know that staying alive is hardly the most important value in my box of values. I need to know I am of some use. I don't even want one day where I return to being a parasite. I have been there, done that. I need to know that some level of comfort is if not currently in my life, at least in my future. Quality of life rates high with me. I have seen too much. I know there really is a line there and that I have no right to judge another's decision about that, nor they me. Staying alive at any cost is for me simply insane and inhumane. The Hippocratic Oath cannot be applied in violation of humane values. The rub of course is figuring out the timing.

Using My Last Match

Hit me with a club,
why don't you, with a hammer.
Don't leave me standing,
not in this bad light.
Don't leave me to die alone
in the empty dark.
Take me down down down
throw me in the river Styx,
feed me to the fish.

I've used my last match.

February 16, 2009 9:58 AM

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Perfect Storm

I found this. It is so good that I am putting it here. This has certainly happened to me, more than once. However, I am still sure that the source is at least collaborative between me and some Other.

"Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it, step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That's the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You'll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about."

- Haruki Murakami
Kafka On The Shore

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why You Should Write

I am currently reading Bright Shiny Morning, by James Frey. I am nearly done. What a gem. In the back of that book is an essay Jim entitled Music and Talking. He points out that he nearly always writes to loud music in the background. He points out that he always talks first what he writes and that if you talk you will see that language is only partially guided by grammar and mainly guided by context. Thus because he seriously writes as he speaks, he tends to write without many grammatical conventions, which do not show up in speech. He doesn't say, but he knows he should write. I know I should write.

Why You Should Write

The writing you do
reveals the design not yet
in God's world until
your hands and heart place
it precisely, a jewel.
That is what you do.

February 16, 2009 8:28 AM

Monday, October 5, 2009

Within Winter Lies The Truth

Today's words follow this time. I want this poem from last winter to sit with you a little while. I hope you won't move immediately into my prose.

Within Winter Lies The Truth

At the heart of it
like an old matchhead, glowing
under the crust, like
setting lava grows
dark with heat inside, within
winter lies the truth,
spring ready to rise,
life calling out to life, soon
it will feed again.

This is so right, true
that I can't argue, even
though it really hurts.

February 15, 2009 8:11 PM

Why would spring coming hurt? Because I have to let go of the old, make room for the new. Because I am attached. Because I have no choice and I don't like having no choice, go out of my way to keep the illusion alive that I do have a choice. Because I lack humility and humility is essential to my survival. Thus when I encounter something where humility is the answer I die a little inside and the loss hurts, always. Because life feeds on life and thus someone, some entity has to die that others live, a truth I deeply regret, as if it was my fault. Because I am so self centered that thinking something like that my fault makes sense and I know better. This shames me. Because I suspect that I object to life feeding on life because life might be feeding on me. That's just soooo wrong. That's why spring coming might hurt someone like me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Rising Orbs

People I know take orbs seriously, have gone to power points where they appear. They have night pictures of them, and of themselves and others among them. I have personally never seen them or been to those places. The places where orbs appear are not hard to get to if you know where to go. Not everyone can experience them.

I do know what it is like to call for someone to return. It doesn't matter what the reality is. The heart is another reality. I call for my deceased wife sometimes. I call for Mary and Frances. The others are so far back there before my wife. I don't call for them. I also call for the fantasy of some others whom I have never known as lovers. I called for Mary like that. One day she answered even though I never conceived she would. That is a lesson to me. Sometimes fantasies come true, and are even better in reality. That lasted two years and came to an inevitable end. That I knew it was going to be like that did not change a thing. That some others found a great deal in my loving Mary to criticize did not change a thing. It was a blessing and it changed my life way for the better.

Off topic...I am so completely pleased with this blogging experience. Sometimes the gifts are beyond measure. I look at the Feedjit widget and know there are many who never comment. I even know some friends around here where I live that go to my blog and never comment but tell me about it. Frances visits but will not comment. And you people who choose to interact are wonders of my heart. Today has been especially fine this way, with two poems in the comments. So this is just a heads up to those who may not go to the comment page, if you are coming here specifically for the poetry, you might want to check the comments. You never know when a poem might appear, sometimes a poetic dialogue. I have been known to write one in the comments of my own blog when the moment calls for it.

The Rising Orbs

The orbs always come
at this time of year
to nestle near the needles
at the base of trees
and rise at your name
called out in hope that calling
will bring you blessings
and blessings bring you
back to me, back to this place.

February 15, 2009 11:15 PM

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Northern Lights

In replying to Joseph (Naming Constellations) today concerning Hafiz, I did a little research on the internet...what a tool. This time a little disappointing however. Indeed, now I don't know if I love Hafiz or Daniel Ladinsky. He is the latest and most accessible translator. I read a criticism of my source book on the internet that points out that the translation is so free that it is arguably not Hafiz' work. The critic is harsher than that. I have toned it down. That is the trouble with translation.

I have studied I Ching for nearly forty years. All my material is of course translated work. I have a dozen or more, including works by Thomas Cleary, which are later Chinese interpretations from the Buddhist school, the Confucian school, the later Taoist Alchemical school, and another spare hard hitting merchant's school. Cleary translated these commentaries. I consider myself a scholar, but I am hardly that if it is required that I understand the original Chinese text rather than understanding about it.

Now I must live with the idea that I have patterned myself after Daniel Ladinsky, thinking he was Hafiz. I am not sure I care. My voice is an honest voice. This is true with I Ching. It is also true in the poems I have written over the last year.

Northern Lights

I see you lying
on the snow to see the lights,
splashed across the sky
in the ice and stars
and later, at noon beside
you in the still air
are crystals, tiny,
bright as starshine in your hair,
in the bright white cold.

February 15, 2009 10:22 AM

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hafiz Speaks

I am going to let my buddy Hafiz speak tonight.

It happened again last night:

Love popped the cork on itself-
Splattered my brains across the sky.

I imagine now for ages
Something of Hafiz will appear

To fall like stars.

Isn't that cool??

And this one:

Last night God posted
On the tavern wall

A hard decree for all of love's inmates which read:

If your heart cannot find a joyful work
The jaws of this world will probably

Grab hold of your sweet ass.

I have more than one work. I recommend more than one.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

An Ancient Spring

Here is a vision of the way it once was. I am drawn to pieces of this vision like I belong there, would belong here if it was more like this. I have a serious belonging problem. It is no accident that I am alcoholic.

Yet I am also aware of the advantages that civilization has brought to us. I am what I call a "hot house flower". What I mean by that is modern civilization has saved my life often enough for me to know that had I been born with this body in an earlier time I would never have made it out of infancy or early childhood. That has been carried forward as well. My skills are all civilized skills. In other words, not only am I still alive because of civilization, if it were taken away I would not survive either the transition, and if I somehow did, I could not make the transition myself to some form of more basic tribal society role, unless somehow I could be the shaman.

An Ancient Spring

The tribal drumbeat
matches, leads the dancing girls
while the shaman chants
at the edge of light
further from the fire than crones
go this night, well placed
to bridge the dark gaps
between the warming of spring
and the cold white shards
of winter to north
of this hopeful dancing clan
seeking a new life.

February 15, 2009 10:02 AM

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