Monday, November 30, 2009

You Wouldn't Like Me If You Knew

I am still today a shame driven creature when the right conditions arise. If in shame, I will tend to extremes to get out. If not in shame but at risk for it, I will tend to similar extremes to avoid it. I don’t care, really where that comes from. It matters that I know it and that there are two streams of practice regarding shame that I can avail in order to live a better life. I can practice towards avoiding known causes of shame, but while this practice is useful and necessary, a better practice is aimed at moving beyond shame into forgiveness and compassion.

I am so filled with the tendency to treat myself better than I may deserve in any condition, that I have often felt doubtful toward such statements as “the first person I need to forgive is myself.” In fact a minor condition of my shame is knowing that I give myself too much of a break. But here again, I must concentrate on the known predicament I am in. My insight is often profound but it is also distorted in ways I cannot see.

I am 64 years old. I have seen much come and go. Nakedness of all kinds is not such a big deal anymore. I have learned the truths of clothing, of walls, of mirrors, of truth telling and of deception, of double lives and disguises, and how to spin the truth into a lie. I am still the victim of this poem if I relax my grip.

A very good friend of mine tells me her code as a runner on the track and in her life, relentless forward movement. You cannot finish the 5k course and more without a vow to relentless forward movement. I agree. In my place in order to transform beyond a shame driven reactive creature living a grief stricken life, I must recognize I swim against a current that changes all apparent straight lines into curves of a backward tendency, that forces me to tack like a sailboat to move forward, that any rest I take will cause me to work harder to catch up later, that if I just tread water for a time, I will be going backward. My life cannot have any straight lines for long because the backflow always curves them. This metaphor goes on and on with useful applications. Relentless forward movement.

It is not grim, it just is.

You Wouldn't Like Me If You Knew

I am sitting blank
trying to say what I know
but it holds me back
even as I am here
willing and I thought, no fear.
You said secrets keep
me sick and I know
how they erupt like boils do
yet shame blankets all.

March 1, 2009 3:04 PM

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An Old Door

Sometimes I feel really nourished and cared for. Today, something really kind happened to me. I am astounded and grateful for the gift. In fact, several remarkable things have happened in the last several days. My life may have changed nearly beyond recognition. I have new responsibilities. There is a quest coming. We shall see.

I am not yet fit to return to work but I expect that my efforts will have me released for work by next week. However, then I will enter the queue, eligible for a return as soon as a suitable project appears and the current work force adjusts. There is a pressure on my boss to fund the medical insurance he continues to carry for me though I am idle. This pressure is on me as well to return as quickly as I can. However, my boss cannot just dump someone currently active to make room for me without risking that man’s return at some future time. It just isn’t done, nor would I want it to happen. These people are all my friends too. So an ending has to be reached in normal order.

As for this poem, if I did not practice diligently, this is who I would be. It is certainly who someone on the planet is.

An Old Door

This old door, not locked,
will fall off if you try to
open it. That's old.
I am not that old
though if you try to open
me, I'll fall off too.
That's why I keep closed,
because I'll fall off the edge
of things otherwise.
That's just how I think
even though you say I know
better than that now.

March 1, 2009 11:54 PM

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Looking At The Hills

I actually wrote this about God.

This reminds me of the pop song going around lately with the lyric

What if God was one of us?

A while back Paul Simon pointed out that God is old. If He’s anything, old is what He is. She? If She, then I might be in trouble here.

Looking At The Hills

One time I saw you
step out completely naked.
You were really old.
This was like looking
at the rounded hills that once
(you told me) were tall
and jagged mountains
fresh from tectonic forces.

I saw you by chance
and did not tell you
I was there. I just backed out,
gently shut the door.

March 01, 2009 9:53 AM

Friday, November 27, 2009

I've Done It Again

It’s time for a little resizing. I might be just a tad too fat for my tights. I’m a terrible gardener. Mostly now I hire someone in to keep my yard civilized. Here is one man’s version of my plight:

I have a rock garden. Last week three of them died.
-- Richard Diran

That one had me howling. Dancing around on all fours, wishing I had thought of it first. Then I Googled Richard Diran. Try that. Talk about resizing.

Maybe I start to sound sometimes like I am not just another bozo on the bus…

I've Done It Again

I'm coming apart
and they say I am right where
I'm supposed to be
and I ache for you
now that you've sent me away.
Why did I do this?
Right where I'm supposed
to be, learning how
I make my own misery
by judging your heart.

What can I do now?
Pretend nothing's wrong?
I don't know how to stop this.

February 28, 2009 7:53 PM

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Still Sleeping

You never know when something will change nor from where it rises. Even then, perhaps it’s an opportunity and perhaps something else. What to do? I claim that all the main turning points in my life come out of my life rather than me deciding to follow some plan. This is true, but it is also true that the responses I make must be immediate and generally with some kind of clarity. If anyone should ever wonder if my way of living is responsibility avoidant, it cannot be for the simple reason that I say yes or no to the opportunity. Recently that has happened again. Several years ago a man with a unique way of living in the world came into my life as I followed a lead. We interacted for a bit and I felt an old hunger rise up. I remember a time before this one:

Back in 1973 I began a partnership, active for six years and I thought it might lead to big things. It did, though not what I thought. What came of that partnership was many things but not the change of life and way of being in the world that I thought. Instead, in 1981 I was awarded a degree in completion of college level work based mainly on our partnership. I thought he was going to be a partner in building a new life. Instead I had my new Oregon life and in it he transformed into the mentor of my completed degree. We did not partner much after that, though he was a lifelong friend. When I married, he was my best man. When he married I was his. He was thirteen years my senior. At the end, he contracted a form of Parkinson’s and died of it. I have his dictionary and several other books, left to me.

I lived hungry with him, wanting developments which could lead me out of the life I lived. I didn’t have a clue how to do that but I thought he did. It turned out I misjudged him in this way. He was living his life not building a new one even though he talked about it. Talking about these possibilities was a fun thing for him. It was not only me that misjudged. I know his wife went through a transition of realizing that he talked plans he was never going to actually do. One famous one was the book he was going to write (he had already written one) and that book turned out to be about different subjects over the years. From time to time he would even get three chapters in or so. Then something else would turn up. He lived for research, not for the book.

When I met this new man a few years ago, the same hunger rose up. Here is another established man in a world I feel better suited for. Last time with him I became the subject in a training video. There are people who have knowledge of me that I do not know through this video I have never seen. Then we parted company but we both knew not necessarily permanently. This time there is a project, and we have agreed to explore how I can serve the project. Who knows where it leads? I am much closer to the end of my life, not nearly so sure I need to go anywhere.

Still Sleeping

You woke up today.
I can tell because your rim
has gone all rainbow,
visible, growing
the bubble of clear vision
all around your eyes.

If you look into
my heart perhaps I too will
awaken today.

February 28, 2009 6:21 PM

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Small Fish

There is another world. I know there is. Once a guy in AA said, “This is not God’s World. This is the world God Permits.” So there is this world and at least one other. I am used to it.

We play music these days in Equal Tempered tuning. At least that’s the tuning we use most commonly, and only use the other tunings as specialties here in the West. I took a music course a while back and learned that in Bach’s time tuning was more various, but a common tuning was called Well Tempered. Bach wrote music entitled The Well Tempered Clavier. What happened in this tuning was that different scales had different temperaments due to the various ways that the tuning was handled note to note. In Equal Tempered tuning the notes are similarly flatted high and sharped low in order to make as far as possible all the note values the same, octave to octave, no matter what. In Well Tempered tuning there are different values based on other esthetics. When a composer in Well Tempered tuning wanted to evoke lighter and darker moods, he could compose in certain keys which actually did that, were more sharp (bright) or flat (dark). I don’t now remember which keys were which, but I know this is true.

What basically happened over time, musicians wanted to maximize the ability to change keys in the same piece of music without ending with cacophony doing it. That is not so easy in the other tunings. That is what the Equal Tempered tuning did. We have learned to hear past the slightly sharp bass and slightly flat treble. When I listen to my keyboard however, especially in certain voices, I can hear the flatness in the treble.

I think the different worlds are something like that. They are music in different well tempered keys. Perhaps there are worlds in even more difficult tunings, that can only be played in one key. Played together the worlds would be cacophony.

A Small Fish

I am the small fish
in between the stones below
the silver surface
all dappled nearer
the bank, the north bank of you.
You are the far world
in the open air
way beyond my darting life.
I hardly know of it
at all, just stories
the elders tell when they die.
I want to believe.

February 28, 2009 11:09 PM

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turning Around

The false strikes…I was wondering what to post with this poem. Tonight, a man, recently separated from his wife, confessed a large fear today in front of a mixed crowd of people. He said his ex had a new boyfriend and he didn’t know who this man was. His daughter is living with his ex and now the boyfriend has moved in. This means inevitably the boyfriend will be alone at times with his daughter. The man said that he couldn’t sleep nights for fear of that.

First it told me that this man truly loves his daughter. When he told us he realized how powerless he was in this situation, that told me he was struggling to stay real. He even told us his ex was asking him to trust her judgment. This told me not necessarily that it was wise for the man to trust her judgment, but at least that he knew he had little choice.

You would have to have been there to catch how poignant this was, at least to some of us, and how unlikely too. This man is not known for good judgment. However, grasping hold of lifebelts as only the drowning can do, this devastated hurting man listened to others and to his heart and chose a course of action.

He called the man up and told him he was too frightened to leave it alone, that he needed to know who this man who was with his daughter was. With that honesty offered the other man responded and was willing to meet. They are going to meet tomorrow.

Can you see how many other ways this could have gone? All of them probable disasters? This man showed more courage than I might have at my command today, confessing his fear to a stranger. And it is an object lesson in how courage arises out of necessity.

A false strike averted broke my heart with gratitude today. I am grateful when I get the privilege of seeing the pain of the world eased. As one of my good friends said, these two men have the opportunity to become friends over the common bond of the one man’s daughter. She is six, I think.

Turning Around

Now that you have turned
this way, you can see the spring
coming as it comes.
Your eyes have opened
as I hoped so long ago.
It helps as you swing
the axe to cut wood
for the stove and avoid false
strikes, wounds to the world
and to those you love.

February 28, 2009 10:53 PM

Friday, November 20, 2009

You Keep Interfering

A taste for irony has kept more hearts from breaking than a sense of humor, for it takes irony to appreciate the joke which is on oneself.
-- Jessamyn West

This is such an obvious truth. And yet it would seem to contradict the thrust of my recent posts. I would suggest that she has used the term “heart” differently. She exercises the lead in making her statement and behind her lead Jessamyn’s “heart” is as surely broken as is mine or yours. There is no irony without that. In fact, that IS the irony.

Instead what is at stake is courtesy. What is at stake is what we used to call deportment, how one carries oneself in the world. To be broken is essential to the spirit, thus my heart must be broken, or else grace cannot enter. To the rest of the world, in which this brokenness within me may be an imposition, then I must act with courtesy, carry myself in such manner as to tread lightly. I cannot be too heavy a creature, spilling my weight over onto the lives and territory of others unless they invite me in.

What forms the irony is the apparent return of one’s former self, the appearance of a closed and shut off creature for the sake of courtesy.

This is one of the primary renditions of this Zen saying,

First there is a mountain (the heart is shut)
Then there is no mountain (the heart is open)
Then there is (the return of courtesy)

And here again is the appearance of Colton H. Bryant when he says, “Cowboy up, cupcake.” This is a fundamental statement of courtesy.

The question becomes then, how do we return to the world, broken in the flow of God, such that we do not impose, hold our boundaries as if in all humility we hold God back from unwanted display? How do we allow as He does, the continued full exercise of self will in others unknowing, unready, unwilling, and in rebellion? How do we even keep this from ourselves in those moments that we need to forget the mountain is gone?

Jessamyn replies. A sense of humor is not enough. A sense of irony is essential. Humor does not require humility and irony does.

Here is one facet of the irony. You cannot really behave otherwise than to keep to your right size in any case for long. To attempt to live too large, spilling over onto others cannot but at some point be your undoing, for you lack sufficient power without help and that power that is sufficient cannot be mastered at will unless some ultimate goal is yours as well God given. This attempt at power’s mastery will reveal your lack of courtesy for what it is, a form of gluttony. Those who become skilled at avoiding the price are catastrophes on the planet, never far from the scale that measures rudeness in the small and monstrosity in the large.

This is so common, such an everyday occurrence for us all in small ways, that we require of ourselves to offer forgiveness for such transgressions. Yet in larger ways we do not. Thus it is between us locally and between nations, the source for much displeasure and real suffering. Irony helps to keep the heart open nonetheless.

If you wish to be pain free, then you risk monstrosity.

You Keep Interfering

I tore up floorboards
and found a rainbow, hollered
What the hell is that?
This is just too much
the way you keep following
me around, catching
me up, sending me
skyward no matter how low
I still try to go.
Now I want to know
what you want from me. I don't
think I deserve this.

February 27, 2009 3:42 PM

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Field Theory

I am really happy I did not fall for the idea that I should somehow be captain of my soul. My life is so far from anything I could have planned. Every time I bring some new venture into my path it seems that everything changes. I have often said in one or another context that I am on the cutting edge of my own life. I basically am not competent to run it because I have never been here before. There are some roadmaps and guidelines available. There are principles that I have chosen to follow, but these don’t really tell me what to do on this day to day basis I might be able to really use. So I have to go by rules of thumb, some dead reckoning, and take suggestions as they arise. It is in this context that yesterday’s post was offered.

I quite literally can’t do worse if I flip a coin. I have in fact run my life on coin flips before. Actually, there is a system that offers a formal treatment, a ritual that encloses coins and the random nature of things. It is very old in its oldest form and is widespread now. I Ching. I have worked with that ancient Chinese wisdom system since 1969. It started in a fascination and led to serious study.

At one point, I returned to school and took my BA degree using my work in I Ching to figure in about half of the 28 credits I needed to graduate. Astrology figured in the other half, but also systems theory and other aspects of philosophy and psychology, and more than a little interconnection with quantum mechanics and cosmology. Astrology and I Ching are legitimate subjects of college level learning when they are classed as metaphysical systems and treated formally in that way. Also, Astrology has been used in psychological settings as my colleague and I did. Both Astrology and I Ching reveal aspects of psychology, arising as they do out of the human psyche and can be used then as investigative tools to plumb that psyche.

See? This actually works, but I was up to that time, 1981, the only student to receive credit in metaphysics as a branch of philosophy in the prior learning experience program that I went through. Others tried unsuccessfully. The year after I was awarded my degree, they reconstructed the format of the program, and I believe what I did became impossible to do in the new format. I think it means I have been the only student in that program to do something like that. It took me two years, but the first year was burned up trying wrong directions before I settled on this practicum I produced.

Here is another example of that sequence I wrote about yesterday...that I must make the gesture first, knowing I have little chance of actually getting it right, in order to get my world to reply or respond to me, guide me into the actual workable path.

Flipping coins to decide my fate…why not?

Field Theory

I took you from fields,
brought you into my home state,
expected your blooms
and the scent of you
to change my life forever.
That is what happened
but in a surprise
move, you pried my hands free
of their hold on you.
Sailing off on winds
that I could not understand,
you gave me myself.

February 27, 2009 2:24 PM

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who You Left Behind

I can’t do this thing alone. If there is anything I have learned in sixty four years on the planet it is that. I simply cannot subscribe to a philosophy that tells me to revere individualism, rugged or otherwise. If I wander in my own mind alone, I have entered a bad neighborhood, so I have relied through the years on trusted guides, whether in books or in classrooms, at homes or in gatherings.

I really resist advice. I doubt that people have enough wisdom to lead me directly. I also doubt, have learned to doubt my own direct vision…it is too full of my own prejudice. This is like scientists who know that what they call objective vision relies on a set of specific procedures, tools, and on peer review, which includes agreement through repeated results. I get a result. Then you repeat and get the same result. In this agreement we begin to trust the result. That is why when they say certain things scientists have credibility. They should be trusted. The procedures are reliable, time tested. I too can appeal to the procedures. But not when they say other things.

So I resist advice, but I do not resist certain procedures I have tested for myself and put in my life.

Here is one. I open. I ask of my world in openness. I become alert. I don the garb of the hunter in a certain sense of patience. I make certain gestures, knowing that while sincere, they are inadequate, ill framed, of themselves not useful. I also know that they change things and that in the changes there will appear situations or items that are useful. This is like the hunter flushing game. Then I trust this as true and turn into the skid at that moment, follow what rose up.

This procedure has held me in good stead. I got sober this way. It led to 12 steps and eventually a way to take all 12 steps. I got a career this way, a wife this way, Oregon this way. I started blogging like this. Now I have searched for healing like this, keeping the gestures in place (this must be, because I gestured in good faith and integrity demands follow through), but mainly following the path that has risen before me.

In this way, I am not alone but in dialogue with my world.

If I were alone on the path I could not run for long. If I were alone on the path, if I had to stop, I would wither. Sometimes on the path I do have to stop and watch the pacesetter disappear in the distance. Then the wolves nearby had better be my friends. Otherwise I am lost.

Who You Left Behind

Running the long path,
you outpace me, the others
who also race on.

I call for you, Wait,
I call, but you are steady
with a graceful lope.

Winded, the wolves halt,
turn yellow eyes to question
me as I stop too.

February 26, 2009 9:08 PM

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Carried On The Wind

Yesterday, my cat who was dead came alive, resurrected by a neighbor across the street who found her wandering, apparently disoriented, down the block. My cat was so low profile that the neighbor had never seen her and so the cat seemed a stray to her. This was last summer when I thought she had wandered off to die.

So when another former neighbor who did know my cat was talking to this person who now has my cat, he saw a picture of the cat and said it was mine. She came over and offered her back but I pointed out that my cat was doing better with the neighbor than she had with me for years. That’s so because the cat apparently wants to live there and behaves like it.

She never wanted to live here and behaved like it here too so had to live in the garage rather than the house. That was so I could clean poop up off concrete instead of rugs. I am very happy the cat is alive and close. I am hoping for visitation and by no means will I be a deadbeat dad if they will let me pay for things. The neighbor apparently wanted to keep the cat. She seemed okay with it. She was impressed to know she had an eighteen year old cat. I was impressed with how healthy she looked. Of course that was relative to her age. She is senile quite often and we both know it.

Carried On The Wind

Today it was love
that came on the wind
and lifted the skirts of life
in order to make
more love, enough for
tomorrow's need, enough for
you on the mountain,
me at the river,
enough for all the small ones
and the high flyers.

February 26, 2009 8:45 PM

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Weather Coming

It has been too hard to sit here and use my left typing hand. Never mind. I have been through the worst of my storm and am in the rehabilitation mode now. I am hoping for a full release. There is still work to do.

New Weather Coming

I walk the long shore,
through the sand, the gravel, shells,
the strands of brown kelp,
with gulls calling me,
telling me to heed your name
whispered in the salt
breeze, and out to sea
the cloud banks rise up building
the new front.

all, you sail my life.

February 26, 2009 8:21 PM

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

I wrote this toward the end of yesterday evening, but I was involved and couldn’t post.

This book by Alexandra Fuller, The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, is, a prose poem from start to finish. I cannot recommend it more. But I warn you, it is likely to break your heart. It has broken mine. It is rare to read the raves of reviewers, read the book, reread the raves and decide they didn't do the book justice.

The story reads like a novel but is a true story of Colton, how he grew, what he did, and how he died. It is also the story of those closest to him, how they loved him, and he them. It takes place in Wyoming, on the high plains, and because Colton made his living at the last on the gas and oil rigs, it is about that as well. It is about the wild horse he tamed, and in the end it is about life and death, beauty and loss. It is about cornflower blue eyes and mind over matter.

Most of all, it is about how we go on, no matter what, no matter freaking what. "Cowboy up, cupcake," Colton would say.

I apologize for not posting sooner. I was busy reading. I was also distracted by other things. And I cannot post right now either, because I am downloading the 89 meg Itunes player at 4.5 kbps, a 5 hour download. I rarely do that but it's in a good cause. I will then have a way to play for free the whole remastered Beatles set, 16 cds of Beatles which was saved off for me in .m4a format or whatever it is that Ipod and Itunes defaults to. I sniveled about it, but Windows does not play that format.

Cowboy up, cupcake. Or as we say in bar talk in Oregon, "Oh well." You have to say that with the right inflection. Heh.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Enigma, Old Business

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth."
-- Umberto Eco

I am very happy Eco said it. However, I can't stop there because it is not only madness that attempts to interpret the enigma from our side. Sometimes it is a yearning of the deepest heart, and that creates when there is talent and skill, much of the greatest art. And in my experience, the penetration is not only one way. What I mean is, the enigma sometimes interprets me. When that happens it is not always terrible. Sometimes it is a new birth. When the music broke loose in me in the nineties so I could return to it, I feel this is what happened. After the turning point, the world is no less a harmless enigma, yet it is now married to the yearning I have had lifelong where once it was somewhere beyond me, and maddening for that, just as Eco says, terrible, demanding an interpretation which is impossible.

Is this also the force behind the experience of mothers and fathers who fall in love with their infant, that the enigma is delivered directly into their care, just as they once were delivered? Is this not as well the position of the mystic? Is this what happens in the best love making? This is as well, I believe, the best way to die, embracing the enigma.

That quaternity is the true cross found at the heart of the harmless enigma that is the world we live in.


I am an arrogant man, but I am a recovering arrogant man. I try for gracious gratitude, even though I think gratitude is beneath me. Practice. I am glad to have learned the musician's lesson about practice, even though I really think practice should be beneath me too. Can you imagine how embarassed I have been at times, getting caught in my arrogance? I am unfortunately not arrogant enough to avoid shame successfully. I am shame driven when I am smaller than fits my true heart. I have to keep my arrogance a secret from myself in order to function that way. Or else I must practice, practice, practice until I learn to live right sized.

Old Business

I didn't ask you
to help me, did not accept
graciously at all,
in fact I rushed off
as if I found something new
laying on holy ground.
A unique moment,
a unique new man was born,
that's how I thought then.
Now I know how this
is old business, common,
belongs to us all.

February 26, 2009 7:50 PM

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Dancing Girl

This is a memory. I once had a woman dance for me in my living room in a full costume including a long flowing black-haired wig. What a gift. This moment was one of many that changed my life.

The Dancing Girl

You told me secrets
about dancing, it's costume
that makes it real,
that's what you said, then
you twirled your full skirts so high
I saw your full shape,
the shine of your shoes,
and the grace notes in my heart
all from the rhythmic
swirl of your sweet world.

February 25, 2009 7:40 PM

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Sudden Appearance In Cold Waters

I really need a little shapeshifting just now. Last February it was winter I was escaping...

A Sudden Appearance In Cold Waters

I take my dolphin
shape to cut through life's cold wash.

I am sleek and slick
with tropic waters,
with the sunlit spells you cast
beside the noonday
shoals of tropic fish
near the coast I promised you,
where I keep your hope.

February 25, 2009 8:11 AM

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Tender Spots

"Of all the pitfalls in our paths and the tremendous delays and wanderings off the track I want to say that they are not what they seem to be. I want to say that all that seems like fantastic mistakes are not mistakes, all that seems like error is not error; and it all has to be done. That which seems like a false step is the next step."
- Agnes Martin

What a statement of faith. I agree. I am dark right now, on a treacherous path, in too much pain to do much and without a clue how to get out of it. I am still on track. I choose to believe so.

Love, compassion, forgiveness. Prayers for healing.

The Tender Spots

The tender spot's found
in between
the dark and day
or day's end and night,

or in between me
you dancing in twilight
lit by rosy flame.

You said eternal
is found in us. I said
Yes, within our hearts,

In the tender spots.
February 25, 2009 5:03 PM

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Your Lifting Capacity

This has been said so many beautiful ways and this is one of them. I have called it seeing with God's eyes. It changes things to know the world from this other position, oddly the same, the identical position to this one, and yet never easy to attain until you do. At that point you know how easy it is to reach it, so easy that you will be embarassed, but in a harmless way. Mostly joy and laughter rules in the birth of things, compassion in their ceasing.

Currently, I am in the darkness. Yet I remember.

"Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Can't you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front."
- G.K. Chesterton


I am quite sure that not one of us can rise on his or her own. But this is paradoxical because in the end it is entirely up to us. Identity becomes something other than what we know. So does the emotional life. And like said above, we no longer come in through the back door, the servant's entrance, but through the front door, like the prodigal sons and daughters we are.

Your Lifting Capacity

You left mundane some
time ago, lifting your eyes,
your heart, your soul to
reach the rainbow prism
in the eye of God, well past
the rainy clots, spray
of worn out old words.

Look how you bring us along
with you as you go.

February 25, 2009 9:23 AM

Friday, November 6, 2009

And I Said, I Will

Here is a teaching moment. It is the connection of magic with the heart of the world. At the micro order of magnitude, down around the size of Plank's Constant it is actually difficult to tell which direction is past and which future. The arrow of time is revealed to be an artefact of magnitude. There is no question that the manipulations of magic have to reach into this realm.

Sometimes, as with the tale of Merlyn, mages can live the arrow of time backwards, from future to past.

And I Said, I Will

A mage remembers
both forward and back, standing
here, now, centered in
the land, poised, at rest
but not indolent, he said.

He spoke as we walked
the path I, yearning,
cannot walk without his wit.

Do not, he then said,
keep only yesterday
but keep tomorrow as well,
and I said, I will.

February 25, 2009 8:42 AM

Thursday, November 5, 2009

On Hearing MacArthur Park

If ever a song production was over the top MacArthur Park is it.


I just finished reading Philip Norman's book, John Lennon. What struck me, the thing I liked most about Beatles music was actually mainly the work of George Martin. I absolutely loved the seamless arranging, every bit as profound as any symphony. George Martin was classically trained of course. Early on, I was struck as a singer myself at how really good the Beatles were at vocal harmony. Another thing that struck me, how their lyrics seemed so strange, but as Norman points out over and over, knowing where they lived clears up a great deal because they just wrote about places and people they knew.


I have really been knocked down by this low back injury. I can't work and it's been three weeks now. I don't know what I did, woke up with it one morning. I have no clue how I stressed my back. I went for an MRI today. I have been referred to Physiatry but haven't received the scheduling call. I find myself sleeping as much as possible. So far I have been able to cook and bathe and all that, but not without complaint. I can't even type for very long at a time because there is muscular intertie with my low back. I thought sciatica but mostly it stays on my left side in my hip area. We have proved that it is not hip though. This is the first time in my life that back pain has afflicted me like this. The only thing worse I have experienced is gout, but this is coming in a very close second.


On Hearing MacArthur Park

If I had a cake
I would keep it away from
rain in any form.
I would not use green
in the icing either. Weird.
But underneath that
is a spirit song
that rises and fills the wild
places in my heart,
then spreads out from there
reaches the dreams in your life,
changes things for us.

February 24, 2009 8:27 PM

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Deer Trail

Sometimes I really tire of what I believe is the universal condition. I ache for our illusions to become real. We make our own roads, intending them to go somewhere, the passage easy, efficient, but we know all the while that we are travelling in wilderness, following trails we did not make. We call for true companions, simply decide that someone nearby has to be that companion, desperate from waiting for our true companions to be revealed. But we really know there is no true companion, not like that, not like the inner dream. We take on a sense of humor about all this in order to get along. We go to considerable lengths to deny that suffering is our lot, or else falter in the burden of it.

I struggle to remember how I wanted to be here, argued with my maker to get here. It seems to me so much easier to blame another for my fate.

Here am I, Lord. Walk with me.

The Deer Trail

The woods loom over
the path we take, this deer trail,
wide enough for us
right here, falling
gloom like rain, so little sun.
When I have touched you
like I did today,
walking near enough to, wanting
the feel of your skin
from my hand to heart,
I say I trust you, I trust
this trail, where it leads.

February 24, 2009 11:22 AM

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Final Proof, The Sweetness Of The Rose

It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.
-- Peter De Vries, "The Mackerel Plaza," 1958

An AA speaker, Bob Earl, would say the same thing this way...Without God, I'm fucked.


In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be.
-- Hubert H. Humphrey

It was my mother's lifelong distress that she built her public self so completely, with such excellence, such art, that those of us close to her could not break through. If we caught on to the differences between private and public self, we would eventually think of her as not genuine, and become accusatory. That would never work because her persona was too tightly woven. To my great good fortune, I realized possibly a decade before she died that what I took as false was not false and she was in very important respects exactly who she seemed to be. It was possible to map her public persona character back onto her mostly hidden private self. It is in this area, in the consequences of this structure that at least two of her five marriages failed and also where she almost lost her last two siblings. In the end as best they could her youngest sister and middle brother both decided that keeping the relastionship was too important and they tried to look past this appearance of falsehood in her persona.

I don't know if her siblings ever figured it out, because she really was difficult in her way. In many real respects she not only raised me well, but I also survived her and had to struggle to do it.

Meanwhile as is often the case in such matters, there are a very large number of people who remember her, who continue to be taught through her books, who loved her dearly, knowing and needing to know only her public self. She was celebrated and decorated, and was one of the leading lights in the ministerial program for training ministers in the field in Unity School of Christianity. She accomplished a great deal in her lifetime, including writing three books, training ministers, teaching high school English to a whole army of baby boomers, and winning various awards for acting and also directing plays. In her youth, she turned down the opportunity for a movie career to go to university, and there she graduated PhiBetaKappa and was valedictorian of her graduating class, sharing the stage at Berkeley that year with Harry Truman. She got a lifetime achievement award from Unity School near the end of her life, of which I understand only one is given a year.

She said she understood Liz Taylor very well. I think she did.

The Remedy

I was too deep in health issues to blog til now. Oddly enough this is the next poem in sequence.

Homeopaths call their decoctions remedies and they do so because they believe them to be restoratives, enabling our selves to bring our systems back into balance on their own. Allopaths offer their drugs to directly combat specific symptoms, assuming if you get the symptom out of the way the body can do the rest.

I will be getting an MRI on my back on Thursday.

The Remedy

It doesn't matter
what I believe, or you, or
how the sky reaches
into the farther
shape of space, nor that lemon
scent is present now.
What matters now, we
learn to forgive so truly
that nothing's left out.

February 21, 2009 8:54 PM

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sky Blessings

"When you are writing laws you are testing words to find their utmost power. Like spells, they have to make things happen in the real world, and like spells, they only work if people believe in them."

-Wolf Hall (Mantel)

Damn. I wish I had wrote that. It's a really big clue. If you understand how that connects, how that works, how utterly essential both laws and spells are, if you understand all that, you are truly headed down the right Path.

Here's a, poem.

Sky Blessings

When hawk calls to you
I know you answer, soaring
higher than before,
becoming distant
to the rest of us, to me
while leaving your note
singing you'll be back
sooner than the next song plays
in my heart for you.

February 21, 2009 9:03 PM

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