Thursday, September 30, 2010

What I Will Do

Coyote makes an appearance, intent on her message. I shall be intent on mine.

"Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. I have read and heard many attempts at a systematic account of it, from materialism and theosophy to the Christian system or that of Kant, and I have always felt that they were much too simple. I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy. That is the reason why I have no philosophy myself, and must be my excuse for dreaming."
- J. B. S. Haldane

The Big Tent told me to go outside for inspiration so I wrote of the journeys I would take, willing to go to any lengths (I heard that phrase somewhere) for love, for adoration, to witness, to win. What? I'm a fool? Maybe so. Maybe I am revealed, dancing along my path toward the abyss, dancing in the open with my little dog Tige. Turns out Tige was an American Pit Bull Terrier.

Go here to learn about Tige, the first talking pet in American comics (probably) and me. Thing is, I didn't die suddenly in early middle age, and I have never lived in Amityville. OOOh. The movie about Amityville is not funny.

What I Will Do

Tell me anything.
Tell me where to go. I will
go to blazes for you.

I will crawl up steps
and through the nave just to show
how far I will go.
I will cross oceans,
walk on water. I will fly
to the sun and stars.
I will take extra
chances as I go, looking
for wild green dragons.
I will touch and soothe
the troubled souls of great beasts
and return the grail.

I might even go
outdoors, walk around out there,
take the air and sun.

September 30, 2010 8:18 PM

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't Blame Me

Here It Comes!

Three Word Wednesday has offered the words, engulf, imminent, tamper. I used them several times in my romp through space/time. Perhaps there is some sanity somewhere, but probably not here today. I am wandering in search of an honest man, while carrying a sputtering whale oil lamp. The aroma is arresting. It's all rock and roll.

Don't Blame Me

You engulf the sun,
imminent heat death:
yes indeed, you tamper
with the scheme of things.
Holy crap!
I stand accused but I deny it,
I am innocent, innocent I say!
Even though my condemnation
is so goddam imminent,
I hate to tamper with your life,
don't you know I do.
I'll engulf my days with due regret.
(Perhaps I shall fly off at speed
to the far, far indolent corners, there
to lick my weeping cheesy wounds.)
You eat time with red sauce,
engulf space with hot intention,
and I am pregnant with ideas now
soon to wobble forth topsy-turvy,
soon to tamper gracelessly with
your imminent majesty,
you very freaking eminence.
Hope you can guess my name.
That's what Jagger said.

September 29, 2010 6:26 AM

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not That Many

"Most of our life is spent using behavioral strategies to cover or avoid our pain—the deep sense of basic alienation that takes the form of feeling worthless, hopeless, or fundamentally flawed in some way. When our strategy is to help, when we need to be helpful, this requires that we need to find people who seem helpless, or situations that seem to call for help. It’s true that we may also have a genuine desire to help—one that isn’t based on our needs—but whenever we feel an urgency or longing to help, it’s often rooted in the fear of facing our own unhealed pain. If our basic fear is that we’ll always be alone, what better way to avoid it than to find someone who needs us? If we have an underlying feeling of worthlessness, how better to prove that we’re worthy than by doing good deeds? If we’re trying to avoid the feeling of being fundamentally powerless or ineffectual, doesn’t it make sense to take on the identity of someone who can affect people and outcomes positively through service?

"The “helper” syndrome I’m describing is not outwardly harmful. What makes it dangerous is its potential to keep us blind to what is really going on. Yet it’s easy to see how this lack of awareness, multiplied throughout our society, could lead to the social and political chaos that we live in. Failure to work with our inner turmoil—our need for power, our self-centered desire to possess, our fear-based greed and need to control—results in hatred, aggression, and intolerance. This is the source of all conflicts and wars. Without inner understanding, individuals as well as societies will continue to flounder. This is why it is so important for each of us to come back again and again to the practice of awareness."
--a talk given by Ezra Bayda

"To do good is to be good." Earlier in this talk Bayda pointed out that we who are raised in Christendom, especially here in the West, are given this message. Implicit coercion is involved. Parents and caregivers are looking for behavior from us that creates easy parenting conditions. We are rewarded again and again. We are punished for falling short again and again. The consequence is how completely it is instilled in us that we need to be helpful in order to feel good. If there is any natural impulse to generosity or other goodness in us, it is buried under layers of coercion. "To do good is to be good" is a maxim that guarantees suffering in the name of goodness. That suffering perverts any natural impulse into activity that is undergirded by a selfish and self centered attitude. Any goodness arising in these conditions cannot be trusted and will often be doubted by our intended recipients if not by witnesses and ourselves.

We need to dismantle the hidden agendas which block open hearted generosity.

Here's another problem:

Not That Many

The migraine blind eye
would look not on the wide world
but on dim dark holes
to lessen the pain
just the tiniest wee bit,
and the gout driven
toe fears even sight
when someone looks at its heat.

There are things worse than
a dry writing spell.

July 21, 2009 12:47 PM

Monday, September 27, 2010

It Passes So Quickly

"Of course, even when you see the world as a trap and posit a fundamental separation between liberation of self and transformation of society, you can still feel a compassionate impulse to help its suffering beings. In that case you tend to view the personal and the political in a sequential fashion. "I'll get enlightened first, and then I'll engage in social action." Those who are not engaged in spiritual pursuits put it differently: "I'll get my head straight first, I'll get psychoanalyzed, I'll overcome my inhibitions or neuroses or my hang-ups (whatever description you give to samsara) and then I'll wade into the fray." Presupposing that world and self are essentially separate, they imagine they can heal one before healing the other. This stance conveys the impression that human consciousness inhabits some haven, or locker-room, independent of the collective situation - and then trots onto the playing field when it is geared up and ready.

It is my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up - release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast, true nature. For some of us, our love of the world is so passionate that we cannot ask it to wait until we are enlightened."
- Joanna Macy
World as Lover, World as Self

I dove in at the end of the sixties, after an exile of two years to get my head straight. When I came back I became a dope dealer, among other things, and I was conscious that doing that was a revolutionary act that stressed the system as it stood in more than one way. That is how we thought in those days, and though it is no longer true mainly because the money was too good and attracted the wrong folk, it was true enough then. That is not only what I did, nor what others close to me did. We really were subversive. In the end we were our own enemy though, and the best of us got out and did other things of note, like Stewart Brand did and so many others, and like some of the musicians did too.

Through changes beyond my control, this thing slipped through my fingers. I tried one more time here in Oregon, coming at it from a radically different direction but I was drinking too much and other obstructions were involved. In the end, I just kept going further away from that energy, in acceptance that it was no longer my path if it ever was. This is one of the heartbreaks of my life.

Now I am only interested in those matters that concern people who are old but awake. It is what I do here.

It Passes So Quickly

I can't help thinking
how spring is gone now, summer's
half over, my life
more than half over.
Fall is my season these days.

Spring vitality,
such grand bright tensions,
like birds on lookout, this fades
to white summer heat
and from there to dry
fall colors, the reds and golds,
with a hint of cold.

I shan't look beyond.

July 20, 2009 12:40 PM

Sunday, September 26, 2010

With The Goddess

Nemesis, by Melanie Delon

There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche, "On Reading and Writing"

I remember well. To consort with the Goddess, has ever been my privilege. I do not fear.

With The Goddess

As you approach me
I find the edge of myself
tremble, then dissolve
as your sea takes me
into the orbit
of your lunar gravity.

There I find that I'm
overcome, must be
with you, conjunction of sun,
moon, total eclipse,
full corona, flares
on all sides of me as I
burn, nuclear fire.

July 19, 2009 2:43 PM
Modified September 26, 2010 12:02 PM

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Like Starlight

Morning fog

Author: jedzer

"Here lies the misfortune of philosophy: we encounter on our travels some exceptional freak to which the philosophical rules are found to be non-applicable. Which are right - the freaks or the philosophical principles?"
- Michal Ajvaz

I have bet everything on the turn of a moment. This has happened several times in my life. Sometimes it didn’t work out as I hoped, falling short. Sometimes it turned out beyond my best possible dreams at the time, with one thing leading to another. I follow a spiritual path which allows for such things, though I hesitate to call them acts of God. I love the word serendipity, which to me means happy good luck, luck which carries the aroma of the divine about it. I am in Oregon in this way, and I have made my living in a career that started from one of these events. My poesy in its present incarnation comes from an investment in a woman that I made in a dream in 1983 which did not come to fruition until the last days of 1998. I had no idea such a thing could happen. That relationship led me to a poetry intensive of more than two years duration.

I began blogging by accident too. I stumbled across a blog that completely surprised me and that blog led to some others. Then I haunted the comments for a while, slowly spreading out and finding other blogs for a couple months before deciding I had the willingness to start my own. None of this would have happened had I not found that first blog, That blog so completely impressed me that I got the motivation to span the gap. I came to blogs fairly sure they were going to be time wasters, perhaps even worse than computer games are. I was biased against blogging. That was before I ran into a way of using haiku to my own purpose while haunting the comments of a couple blogs and that’s what led to this blog.

I can confidently say that everything that is of any deep value in my life has come in this “accidental” way. I deeply believe in the concept of destiny, that somehow in some way the outcome of my life is a meaningful participation, a collaboration between me and mystery, between me and forces beyond my ken.

Like Starlight

Everything turns
on one moment: before you
touched me I was not
much to look at or
listen to - no resonance.
I did not notice
as you approached. Why?
Why should I? Nothing
mattered. But your finger touched
my cheek like this, like
starlight and I changed
in that moment, noticing
who I really am.

July 19, 2009 1:13 PM

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Old Farm House

This picture came from Living Off The Grid, a site dedicated to homesteading.

"The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns."
- George Santayana

I have no idea what it would really be like to homestead except I am afraid, I know, of that much of that kind of work. Of course with this old body it would be out of the question. However, as with all poetry of the kind I like, everything can be read allegorically. This could be allegory for how a relationship with lovers is going. How about my relationship with God? Or for that matter, the relationship between my insides and my outsides? Or yours? That's the poetry game.

The Old Farm House

Hard packed, the floor feels
so old to my bare feet, toes
slip in fine grit missed
when last you swept with
the old straw broom that works best
to take the messes
out the door. The gloom
within suits my mood this day
better than the hot
sun bleaching color outside.
All that is light there
turns darker within.

July 19, 2009 10:53 AM

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Coyote Grief, or How I Became A Poet

"Coyotes are incredibly adaptable," Gary San Julian reports. "They can switch from eating small mammals, including mice and voles, to dining on melons and apples and berries. They eat garbage. Some prey on domestic dogs and house cats. Coyotes are comfortable hunting on their own—catching small rodents in newly cut hayfields, for instance—and they also cooperate with each other to take larger prey, like deer."

The basic unit is a family group: an adult male and female, plus any grown offspring that have not yet dispersed into territories of their own. "Coyotes don't form large packs the way that wolves do," says San Julian. "A typical family group may number four of five individuals."

Coyotes have no problem coping with suburban sprawl…

exerpt of an article written by Charles Fergus based on his interviews with Gary San Julian, Ph.D., a professor of wildlife resources and an extension wildlife specialist in the College of Agriculture at Penn State.

Coyote Grief
(How I Became A Poet)

In the long ago, before this new world overran the stories, I would run with coyotes beneath the stars that hung much closer then. I had power then, I could fly. So could they. There were paths of light on which we loped, paralleling our brothers the wolves. For me the wolves were too serious, and I stayed with coyotes for the laughter. Sometimes when the light was right and the moon hung closest of all, in those days, in the deep dark of the nights of those days, we would gather and sing among ourselves all the old stories we knew. Those stories were fresh and new then. Time itself is different now.

Sometimes the night stills,
hardens, and the tight stars choke
and fall to flat earth,
dead embers. The sky
is no longer black, dim gray.

It was far away that it happened, in a drier land than here though of many rivers from nearby mountains. We gathered on the plateau to watch the world we knew die. I still don’t understand it. The earth shook and our hearts shattered. I stood and sang one last time in the way I could then, deep throated and free, not only bass but up through the tenor range, pure and open.

Coyote's sadness
is deeper than hope.

The sky fell. I don’t know what this means, but that’s what it did. I noticed her then standing in the circle, magnificent, of a different shape and color, and singing with higher notes than I can. She took my last song and my last breath. I have not sung those songs since and she howled beyond belief while my shattered heart turned to dust in my demise. The others wandered off to the ends of the world. She remained there solitary in her grief, breathing the stale air of that old, dead world.

She snuffs at dead stars amazed,
confused, wants to put
them back, cannot reach
that high, to the dim flat sky.
They won't burn again.

Me, I can never go back to the place where I died, to the land with no stars and that dead sun. I dare not if I could. Coyote, she holds vigil there, unable to go, unable to die, unable now even to sing. She tries to sing, but she has no voice any more. Her voice faded with the stars that fell to earth. As for me, my power is inside now, in my reborn heart. My power is no longer visible. So are my new words found inside me, though they are evoked, called forth by the things of this young world. They come rapidly lately from the mystery inside me and I write them down faithfully as fast as I can. Time is short. However, the music that we sang is still lost to me and to them too. That is why though the coyotes still howl, that howl is no longer a song but now more like a yodel.

This prose is fresh. The poem was written in February, 2009. If you count syllables you will see, as with most of my recent poetry, that I use Haiku syllable counts for my lines, 5-7-5, repeat.

If you are interested in reading the work of other poets who participate in the Big Tent you can find their links or their work posted here: Big Tent Postings

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Before There Were Men

This image found on this site:

Three Word Wednesday wants us to use these words in a poem: gait, nudge, ripen.

These words took me to the long ago time in North America. The fossil record shows that North America was a part of the evolving horse story though the horse was extinct pretty much completely as men spread throughout the continent. Here's Wiki:

Pleistocene Extinctions

In Western Canada, there is clear evidence of horses until 12,000 years ago. All Equidae in North America ultimately became extinct approximately 11,000 years ago. The causes of this extinction (simultaneous with the extinctions of a variety of other American megafauna) have been a matter of debate. Given the suddenness of the event and the fact that these mammals had been flourishing for millions of years previously, something quite unusual must have happened. There are two main hypotheses. The first attributes extinction to Climate change. Beginning approximately 12,500 years ago, the grasses characteristic of a steppe ecosystem gave way to shrub tundra, which was covered with unpalatable plants. Another hypothesis suggests extinction was linked to arrival of and over-hunting by humans. Extinctions were roughly simultaneous with the end of the most recent glacial advance and the appearance of the big-game-hunting Clovis culture. Findings published in 2006 showed that it was not yet possible to claim with confidence that the extinction of horses in Alaska preceded the arrival of humans.

Horse fossils disappear from the fossil record from about 10,000 years ago,[dubious – discuss] but begin occurring frequently again in archaeological sites in Kazakhstan and the southern Ukraine from 6,000 years ago. From then on, it is probable that domesticated horses as well as the knowledge of capturing, taming, and rearing wild horses spread relatively quickly, with wild mares from several wild populations being incorporated en route.

Before There Were Men
(The North American Plains)

I run with horses
across the plains with matched gait.

I nudge them, call them
forth with plaintive cry
for all that once was, before
we were to ripen
on the vine of time.

You were busy elsewhere then,
dreaming Asian dreams.

September 22, 2010 11:00 AM

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Singular Fate

This is a painting by Kim Waters of The Fool, part of the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck. Kim partners as lead singer with Hans Christian. Together they form Rasa and they sing devotional music in the Persian and Indian styles, among other things.

The Fool is a holy figure, closer to saying The Divine Innocent, than to some more modern vision of some stupid person, bound to fail for lack of something essential. The Fool often succeeds, and he succeeds because he is so innocent that he trusts God completely. The Fool is often depicted as one who is just about to step off a cliff edge.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices."
-- William James

A Singular Fate

I've been left alone.
I am the man they knew well,
nobody wanted.
They say, I am not
like you, not your kind, could not
ever be like you.
Then they sniff and snort,
they hem and haw, take themselves
away, leaving me
to my singular

July 19, 2009 8:24 AM

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Limpid Path, a reprise

Originally posted January 23, 2010. I reprise because I am so fond of this poem, so fond of the word limpid, and so fond of the linguistics and etymology I was able to display, to show how rich these disciplines can be with certain words.

"The Dechainee" by Melanie Delon - one more from Melanie. Dechainee-seems to mean "to be the one to lift or exalt through passion."

Here comes a complex post. You guys speak of favorites among my poems. I have my own of course. This poem is one of them.

This word Limpid is one of my favorite words. I also love the etymological thread of the word limpid. Limpid is related to lymph and through lymph to nymph and to nuptial. Limpid means clear and serene as in a limpid pool, but also as in a limpid style of writing. Lymph once meant pure and clear water, and then the sap in plants, and now the colorless off white fluid similar to the plasma of blood but filled with the substances and the white cells of the immune system.

Nuptial is related to wedding and to the primary point of wedding which is procreation, and thus as a fluid would be the potent sexual fluids. To say Nuptial Fluids might be unusual but would be obvious. This is a bonding of light as in how it passes best through transparency and sex. The sexual light might be an unusually clear light that can penetrate deeply and change things.

This word complex also demonstrates several linguistic substitution rules. The L of limpid is similar to the N of nuptial. Notice in sounding the L and the N, that the position of the tongue in the mouth demonstrates this similarity. The I and the Y and the U are related this way too. The MP in Limpid is the MPH in Lymph and Nymph, is the PTI (pch) in Nuptial. The MP takes the closed lips of M and adds the plosive of P. This is transformed to the fricative F in MPH. Finally the M is dropped, leaving the plosive P joined with the soft CH sound spelled ti in Nuptial. These transforms are all "legal" and commonly used in linguistics to trace the evolution of a language.

Finally, while Limpid comes through French from Latin, Limpa or Lumpa (water), alternatively Lympha, all of this is a modification of earlier Greek Nymphe. A nymph is a semi divine figure evoking the rise of life fluids in men and women both and also meant bride. Nymph is also connected to feminine sexual parts, the labia minora, which are also called the nymphae, nymph in plural latin form. The labia minora are the inner lips of the vulva.

Wow. It is this kind of connection which reveals the wisdom inherent in language, why it is there is magic in words, even when you don’t know it. This is one rich example of the interconnections, clarity with light and with water and with life fluids and with sexual bonding, and the very gate of love. Using limpid brings this all to the sentence, to the poem. While limpid basically means "clear", see how much would be lost if that word was chosen over limpid.

Before getting to the poem itself, I want to add something written by Natalie Goldberg.

The Importance of Illusions

In the beginning, our illusions are important. In some ways, those illusions bring us to practice. Hopefully, in the process of practicing, we wake up to how things really are. But it's not bad to have some dreams at the beginning. When I started writing, I didn't know what it was to be a writer. I didn't know what basic hard work it is. But my dream to be a writer brought me along, and then I met the task.

In betrayal and in failure, there are some real jewels. But wouldn't we much rather have a relationship in which we mature slowly? For instance, isn't it better to have a relationship with your parents in which you grow up and move away from them in a natural and beautiful way? Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. And in spiritual communities, it doesn't always happen, either. So what do we do? We take what is in front of us and wake up from it.

- Natalie Goldberg from "Beyond Betrayal", Tricycle, The Buddhist Review (Spring, 2005)

The word Limpid evokes the kind of clarity Natalie writes about.

The Limpid Path

At a loss for words
about the broken winged
bird who flew away
except to say one
small word of true love above
all others set free
to fly after her
along the limpid path still
high above her pain.

March 21, 2009 9:33 PM

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Here's a fellow looking for truth, I suppose, or a way through, or maybe a fish for dinner.

"Three-fourths of philosophy and literature is the talk of people trying to convince themselves that they really like the cage they were tricked into entering."
- Gary Snyder

Magic, real magic, is the art of breaking free in the judicious use of the Divine brought near as sufficient power gathered through ritual and incantation. It is based on the assumption that God loves to be used. One must take care. There are consequences that follow in every endeavor on the planet and magic is no exception.


The coven has met
within your heart and fallen
into trance, power
flowing out of stones
all around as if water
(struck by Moses' staff).

All those witches lurk
on darkened shelf, watch me write
these words waiting for
one main chance to pounce.

July 17, 2009 12:57 PM

Twelve Points

This work by Melanie Delon is one that bears close investigation. I would suggest zooming in on it and wandering around. The details are exquisite.

This is the Wordle that was offered at Big Tent Poetry's Monday prompt. I was directed to use as many words as I could in my poem. I used them all.

Twelve Points
(A Gangland Reverie)

Your half-eaten swarm
of words illuminate us
in frames of debris,
piles a child might build
on a temporary dock
of echoes called up
from the chant, your skirt
swirled to embellish inner

What's evidence
to me? An answer,
proof of your sturdy backbone
in the scheme of things.

September 16, 2010 6:23 AM
Go here to see all the other contributions to the Big Tent.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

3 Word Wednesday - Political Predicament

-Elena Dudina
This is NOT a demure anemic virgin. May she cross my path. Please?

Three Word Wednesday has asked that today's participants use demure, offend and volatile in a short creative work. At least it seems to me it ought to be short to meet the spirit of the challenge.

Here is my contribution. The first lines were given to me by my Webster's Unabridged dictionary as part of their first example of usage. Arnold Bennett wrote " hustling male assistants very energetic and rapid, instead of by demure anemic virgins..."

Being an old acid head helps at this point.

Political Predicament

Demure anemic
virgins shall cross my wanton
path and shrink from me.
They shall not offend
the up-tight prudes who have thrown
us out of office.

Volatile odors
emanate from the gassy
members of our clan,
those who ate the stew
with billowing impunity.
Far from anemic
and hardly demure
themselves, they do not now care
that they will offend
the jolly stewards,
all frothy gaiety,
volatile worthy servants.

What now shall we do?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I see me in this picture. I haven't really changed in this respect, all my life. If you had the chance to view pictures of me at that age, you would see the resemblance too. I have always wanted a way out but also not to lose my way back. I'm pretty good at it.

"Seeing our moment-to-moment automatic conditioned reactions is crucial. Without that we will just continue the mess we are creating in our world, in our loveless relationships. Without clarity, the self-pitying or self-aggrandizing soliloquy takes up all the space; then there is just this little stage for the actor, the victim, the hero, the star. If that isn't seen, self-pitying and self-promoting proceeds and makes oneself and others miserable."
-Toni Packer

"Whenever we find fault with others, whether through anger, contemptuous certainty, self-righteousness, or gossip, it is often based in fear. We may not be aware of our fears, but when we look deeply, we may discover the fear of rejection, loss of control, of unworthiness, or the fear of disconnection. But refraining alone is not enough-by itself it is just behavior modification-and it is neither healing nor transformative. Only through uncovering and consciously entering into the deep hole inside, welcoming the fear with curiosity and compassion, can we ultimately reconnect with the basic wholeness of our true nature."
-Ezra Bayda

"Gratitude, the simple and profound feeling of being thankful, is the foundation of all generosity. I am generous when I believe that right now, right here, in this form and this place, I am myself being given what I need. Generosity requires that we relinquish something, and this is impossible if we are not glad for what we have. Otherwise the giving hand closes into a fist and won't let go."
-Sallie Jiko Tisdale

Now my turn:
Cognitive depression (not chemically forced and based) arises when a thread of anger is married to the meaninglessness of things. It is difficult to break depression because the meaninglessness is actually undeniable in a certain way and in certain circumstances also permits positive responses, based in the freedom from constraints that follows. Thus the depressed person battles with a partial truth which justifies the depression. Depression is embedded in a dark fear that one lacks sufficient power to change things and that nothing will ever change because that is so. In other words, depression arises when one feels terribly alone, fearful and lacking, realizing that nothing means anything and one is angry at the only person present, which is oneself.

The key to unravelling a depression may be to find that meaning is possible and thus to find an answering thread of hope for change. It is necessary to find a source of power. Hope may provide it, or else provide a way to crack the depression open enough to allow power from elsewhere to take a useful and visible shape and to stream in.

When I was overseas, in 1967-1969, the whole time, I was prescribed a low dose of Triavil, a drug used to treat anxiety and depression. This was in the aftermath of a four month stay in a facility called Alum Rock Hospital that treated mental conditions. I was in this facility for a mental disability brought about by the high fever I suffered during a meningitis I contracted in military basic training in 1964. I nearly died of this disease and it took a full month and a half to recover and be released from medical supervision. I was considered depressed in 1967although the outward expression of my depression was more active and angry than the more common kinds of symptoms depressions display. It was connected to brain damage.

I still have the journals I wrote during that period. I don't remember ever feeling depressed. I had begun using marijuana and LSD before I went into Alum Rock Hospital and it was in the intense use of these drugs that I was intervened on while living on the street, starving. I was arguably anorexic but more certainly broke and homeless. It is interesting how a guy can be broke and homeless and still find all the dope he needs, maybe more than that. I continued using marijuana (ganja) and hashish (charras) during my stay overseas. However, as I read the journals today, they read depressed. My favorite saying to this day, f*ck the world. I don't feel depressed now either. I find it remarkable that there is such a disconnect between outward signs and inner states. That same disconnect arises in alcoholism and addictions when people who are alcoholics or addicts insist that they are not afflicted with those conditions.


It is really hard
to take this unending dinge,
this life, all the drudge
of it fumbling for
purpose without the success
that comes with finding,
looking for the key
as if there was light to shine,
as if it mattered.

July 17, 2009 11:49 AM

Monday, September 13, 2010

Annie Showed Up

Candidates for Compassion

I have reframed and expanded the following quotation. The quotation was originally offered in a talk given by Rimpoche Nawang Gehlek, founder of Jewel Heart, an organization dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture and Buddhism. The subject of the talk was 9/11 and how to respond to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. However, Gehlek Nawang's observation really applies in more general circumstances and so I rewrote it for that purpose. The original issue of course was the hatred with which so many of us view the actions of the hijackers of the planes of 9/11.

We must see that when we feel anger, hatred, or some other resistance toward another person, we are not really reacting to the harm they may have caused us but we are reacting instead to that person's inability to adjust to the world and to feel about the world accurately. In such a state people act as if they are blind. It turns out they are unable to stand up for themselves, that they have caved in on themselves. They have submitted completely to their negative emotions about things. They may consider themselves righteous in the way they are approaching their own lives and the lives of others, but we can see how stupid they have actually been. They have allowed themselves to be enslaved by one or more of their negative emotions. Who are better candidates for compassion than those who have been enslaved, perhaps without even knowing they have been enslaved?

This observation is of course fundamental to the vision with which the Tibetans resist the Chinese occupation of their own homeland. The statement, “we must see…” at the beginning of the passage is a statement that if followed leads to wise behavior. If we do not see this as we must, then we risk being condemned to the same enslavement found in those who have done us harm.

“Here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

My poem refers to the ghost of my former wife, Ann Sheekley, who died in 2001, five years after our divorce, and a little over a month after 9/11. What befell Ann called me to the kind of compassionate vision I have described above.

Annie Showed Up

I am confounded.
Where did you come from this time?
In my face again,
telling me, only
you can, how I lack all earth
and float above things,
not a good thing now
that I am to choose a way
to continue, to
love the world again.

July 16, 2009 8:22 PM

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I used to live here. I moved. What was I thinking??

As a keeper of cats I have been there, done that, have the t-shirt.

"Love should be the only way for men and women to live together. No other ritual is needed." -anon.

"If you are playful about meditation, mind cannot destroy it. Otherwise mind will turn meditation into another ego trip; that will make you dangerously serious." -anon.

"Don't take yourself so goddam serious." -Alcoholics Anonymous

"Just let things be in their own way, obey your own nature, and you will walk freely and undisturbed." -anon.

Johnny Appleseed’s name was John Chapman. He was actually a fairly wealthy man at least at one point because he had so many orchards of his own. He really did plant apples freely, not only on his own land, and he was a purveyor of applejack. The apples of his time were not the sweet eating apples we know. They were largely inedible but they did make credible alcoholic cider. That was the principal drink of his day. The grain fields did not yet exist, and what grain there was went into breads and such, so there was not much beer or whiskey either. Rum was imported.

John was well known as a complete eccentric, one of a kind.


In those days, they drank
apples. Applejack, Chapman's
gift to the frontier.
Johnny Appleseed
brought them good strong drink
and they paid him very well,
so well that he grew
orchards all over
those long valleys and low hills,
good cider makings,
safer than water.

July 16, 2009 12:48 PM

Friday, September 10, 2010

Catch The Wave

Billy Collins was a recent Poet Laureate of the United States, a position held in the Library of Congress. In his tenure, he put in place a whole group of published poems designed to be an English track on poetry for high school students, a poem a day. He is one of our best poets. This video gives you a chance at eight other recorded poems and I believe Billy is reading his own work.

I have continued my own poetry push, renewed from last spring. A high tide has come up on me. I have written 54 poems in a month. Not only that, I have reached out to two poet groups using prompts to write to. I have been doing this following of prompts impromptu for two years, using the blogs of others and posting the results there all along. One guy named me Johnny Applepoem because I keep planting poems where I go. I know this could be rude to some, that some folk might not understand or want that, thinking I am competing or believing myself the better poet or some such, but it is more like I am catching the wave. I am replying as if it were conversation. My blogfriend Rachel has understood and has joined me happily from time to time. Now we assume we will do that poem and response thing. There are others who get me. I am particularly happy when people leave poems behind on my site. At least if I am rude to some, I have hold of this truth. I am not doing to you guys that which I would not have done to me. I want your inspiration. I am happy to receive your poems any time here on my blog.

I am not possessive of my work. You will see no copyright statements here.

Catch The Wave

The ebb and flow is
mystery, tidal, inner
moon of hidden world
not shaped like this one
and there is nothing to do
about that shifting
tide but surf or nap.

There are times to move quickly
and times to idle-
best to stay alert.

July 16, 2009 9:01 AM

July 16, 2009 9:01 AM

The Duet

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill-health.
There is no way to escape having ill-health.
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love
is of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
~ Buddha

This afternoon I received a "non-urgent" message from my doctor. As of yesterday's blood tests and my recent complaints, I am now a low level diabetic. Somewhere between last year's look and this year's look I turned a corner and my body failed in yet another area. Growing old is not for sissies.

Getting harsh news somehow fits this poem which just sits next in the normal order of things, the oldest poem in the queue. This poem was written in my pre-diabetic days. The song in the poem seems beautiful though it is part of the flood. This makes me think of the classic Taoist symbol which directly transmits the message there is good still present in the worst of things and nonetheless there is evil in the best. Heat carries its own death within it as do I but the muck brings forth the flower.

The Duet

Amid the rapids
the silver shaped voice sings out
kinder melodies
than those that loosed floods
and forced us into these small
and fragile reed boats.

I shall learn these songs,
sing them in my lower tones,
in harmony with
the higher silver
notes rising out of the floods
as I navigate.

July 15, 2009 12:33 PM

So sing the duet with your own life rather than bewail its fate.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Desert Life

Photo by: Koshkin Dom

Work on Oneself
The horse is our emotions.
The carriage is the body.
The mind must learn to control the emotions.
The emotions always pull the body after them.
This is the order in which work on oneself must proceed.
- G. Gurdjieff

Watch first your body and your emotions before anything else. Watch your actions, your feelings, your thoughts, your moods. Watch how you walk, sit, eat, sleep, rest etc...

Make sure to begin with the first step because all other steps will then come on their own.
"I have a friend who feels sometimes that the world is hostile to human life - he says it chills us and kills us. But how could we be were it not for this planet that provided our very shape? Two conditions - gravity and a livable temperature range between freezing and boiling - have given us fluids and flesh. The trees we climb and the ground we walk on have given us five fingers and toes. The "place" (from the root plat, broad, spreading, flat) gave us far-seeing eyes, the streams and breezes gave us versatile tongues and whorly ears. The land gave us a stride, and the lake a dive. The amazement gave us our kind of mind. We should be thankful for that, and take nature's stricter lessons with some grace."
- Gary Snyder

Deb at Big Tent Poetry writes: This week’s prompt comes from one of the West’s most esteemed poets, William Stafford: “Think of something you said. Now write what you wish you had said.” Once you’ve pared it down to one idea and a resultant poem, come back starting Friday and leave us a link

So tomorrow this poem will be linked into the Big Tent

This poem does not deal with the exact words so much as a situation behind the words. I am not trying to blame anyone in this situation but I don't mind if you do. In fact as I read my own work, I feel myself leaning this way and that depending on who I plug into the two character places. Putting this poem into the desert suggests something...where's the water, what could be the water and its scarcity, and am I prepared to live here? Why is the bird a predator? It didn't have to be, or even be a bird. What other characters live nearby and who are the shits? Heh. I have no idea. I just make this stuff up. If I did have an idea, I wouldn't say. I think this situation is real though. How many people live here today?

Desert Life

I struggle with you
and I don't know why this is.
I would like to be
like the hawk to your
cactus life, easily perched
on your flowered crown,
calling out your love
and telling you this. Instead

I flinch at the stabs
of your spines, your sharp
hooked barbs, and I say the mean
things you are used to
getting from the shits
who flock around you because
you are just all that.

September 9, 2010 11:14 AM

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Of Love

Table of Consanguinity (from Wikipedia)

Consanguinity is a legal term that comes to us through the French from its usage in Roman times for exactly the same purpose, to determine degrees of inheritance or descent for legal purposes. Notice the numbers in the table. If my blood is 100% me, then my mother is 50%, my grandmother is 25%, my great-grandmother is 12.5% and so forth. Likewise my son is 50% (because of his mother's blood), my grandson is 12.5%, and my great-grandson is 12.5%. Refer to the table and see how these degrees of relatedness run out through cousins. In imperial and royal matters, it became important to know the degrees of relatedness to the emperors, kings and other lords.

Con* means "with" or "through" in a similar sense to "with", while *sanguin* is Latin for "blood". The state of affinity through the blood.

I have met through Facebook, two of my first cousins, once removed. What a blessing. This is a part of the family that was distant for reasons I understand but are no longer relevant. They were never relevant to me. We are all getting along in years. So welcome to my life, Penny Noordwal-Ware and Ruth Noordwal.

Note also that second cousins are not the same as first cousins once removed. That is a common misuse of terms. If you aren't sure, then saying "distant cousins" will suffice for all the other relations.

This is ever an informative site.

Three Word Wednesday has offered up the words "charm", "feast", and "robust" for use in a creative format.

Here is my offering

Labor Of Love

I have worked a charm,
taken your blood, just a drop,
a small bright red pearl,
laden with your life,
and mixed with right potencies
from secret, sacred
stashes of power.

I have created a feast
of dreams arrayed like
silken Chinese fans are,
crafted from complex thready
mists, sacred incense.

If you are robust
then I am at cause, carry
my weight willingly.

September 8, 2010 8:34 AM

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Where I Live

The Aurora Borealis as seen in Iowa, photo by Richard Big (taken from the NASA website)

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
- Mark Twain

"Finding inner peace, this is a point of no return. You can never go back into the struggle."
- author unknown

Driving on the midnight road, headed south, wondering what next. I have no idea what this poem was tapping the day I wrote it. Neither do I know why I wrote the first sentence of this paragraph. I like them both though.

My poem is true to the history of my relationship with my mother also. She really did move here to be near me when she got old enough to be concerned. There was no other reason for her to move to this area. Her sister followed her. She had stayed in the Kansas City area while my mother moved back to California for a few years from there, but when Mom came up to settle here in Oregon, it was apparent that she was settling in. That’s when her sister decided to make it a family gathering and moved here too.

Now I live in the house Mom left behind when she died in 2001. She died in three days of a stroke from onset to last breath, just a little over. I had come to visit her in the convalescent facility where she was recovering from hip replacement surgery. We were talking and she raised her hand as if to make a point, interrupting the conversation, then she rubbed her ear and everything stopped. She was out like a light. I called for help and that was that. We were on the death watch while her brain swelled shut, finally depressing her ability to breathe and she died. The swelling is what took three days. She was awake but not very comfortable the first day. Then she lost consciousness, but not completely because she did some orchestrating of events even in coma. She knew on the last day that my sister was not yet in town so she pitched a fit when her breathing started to falter. We quieted her with a morphine drip. Then it was time and I risked going to get my sister at the airport. There was no one else could do it. When my sister and I arrived and sat by her, we had forty five minutes (this was about five hours after starting the morphine drip to ease her struggle), and our people, a small gathering, sat vigil with my sister, her daughter, my mother and me. When Mom started to struggle again, I moved to her side, held her, telling her it was okay, really okay. It was over quickly and that was that. This was the end of January in 2001. In May, she would have turned 80.

She followed the advice of Mark Twain given above throughout her life. She aspired to the inner peace of the second quote in the last third of her life, so much so that she became an ordained and award winning minister in her quest.

And it is true, really. This house is not and can never be my home, and that is okay, really okay.

Where I Live

I miss the ocean.
You are the ocean. I miss
you like that, like mist.
I live in Mom's house
she bought to be near her son
in her last ten years.
When she died, moving
here was practical for me,
the right thing to do.
But I miss you now,
dispersing mist on water,
fading, not my home.

July 14, 2009 1:30 PM

Monday, September 6, 2010

As If In Wonder

Pavel Pronin

"Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down."
- Natalie Goldberg

“Sadness, anger, envy or fear have nothing bad in itself: a painful emotion indicates only that we left the center. When you are at peace, the whole universe is at peace. What seemed like a cacophony becomes like a heavenly music: a symphony for an alone mind.”
- Stephen Mitchell

Nothing is that important. That’s what Natalie Goldberg says. Will I believe that? Can I believe that? Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff. I am sitting here daily conscious that I am going to die because the state of my body clearly declares the clock is ticking. So what. It’s all small stuff. I might be forced to sell this house just to live soon. Nah. That’s small stuff too. See? I am practicing.

When I was a small boy, my mother saw me practice many things in private. One was speaking. She claimed I was nearly mute long after the normal time frame for starting to interact in that language way. I would babble to myself behind my closed door bedroom. Then I came out but when I spoke it was a complete and complicated sentence. That’s what she said. I didn’t do the intermediate steps. She claimed my first real talking words were something very close to, “Mama, the panda is under the bed. Will you get it for me, please?” Since I can’t remember, I have chosen to accept that my mother remembered such a thing.

As If In Wonder

I wish you had not
run off sure of what I thought,
sure I would condemn
what last happened when
I asked after your true dreams.

I am another
light in the wide sky
of various lights shining
as if in wonder,
as if in longing.

July 12, 2009 2:11 PM

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Travelling To Spain

Spanish Castle

The Greek Island of Symi

Houseboat on Lake Dal. The boat that was mine was actually much smaller and the land in the background was far steeper too. The garden was barely recognizable as a garden, with the remains of low walls in some spots, all overgrown, but still well kept.

This poem is an actual conversation, recalled and shaped to fit in poesy. Annie and me, we had this talk several times but never got free enough of daily life to actually do it. She had been to Spain in her college days as a nanny to her college history professor’s family. He went to Spain on research each summer. This particular summer was Ann’s turn. She fell in love with Spain and wanted to give me that gift.

For my part, I had been around the world, while spending two years in what is now called Bangladesh. During that stay, I traveled to Kashmir, to the city of Srinagar and to Lake Dal. On that lake, moored in a garden that was planted by Alexander of Macedon, were houseboats for rent. That is where we stayed. It was heaven. Many of the Kashmiri are red haired and blue eyed, with olive skin and wonderful straight noses, a legacy of Alexander and his troops. They are the most handsome people on the planet in my book.

An oddity: there were guest books in the boats. The guest book in ours was signed, George Harrison. Now that’s a common enough name. But I have always wondered. George visited that part of the world for sure. It was the right time frame, 1968. It was a colorful and private place to stay. It seems to me reasonable to keep open the possibility that I stayed in the same boat as George.

Later, on the way back to the States, I flew into Athens, and stayed a couple days in Greece while on the way to Rome and finally Naples, where I was to board a liner to New York. During my Greek visit I got out to one of the Greek isles. It was beyond breathtaking and a completely different swimming experience since there was no bottom or beach really. You swam out ten feet and already the bottom was unreachable because the island was a mountain top with a steep slope. The water was so clear but you couldn’t see the bottom. It just went straight down, pretty much.

Traveling To Spain

You said we would go
to Spain and I said, that’s good.
Then I said we would
go to an island
off Greece, a mountain submerged
in the sea, and then
by air to Kashmir,
well, to India first of course,
all the best places.

July 10, 2009 1:18 PM

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How We Met

Marischa Slusarski, 30 Percent Chance of Raining Toads (2007) Mixed Media on Canvas, 48 x 36 inches

Recently I lost my old cat, over nineteen she was. She took to extremely bad behaviors, exposing herself to any passing situation at any time she felt like it. She was going senile and didn’t care about much any more. Her eyesight was going and she couldn’t really see over 15 feet. I know because if my kitchen door was open to the garage, she couldn’t tell even with the light on and the garage dim. Her ears were going too. So she lived in her own little world. I wrote a poem about that when she was eighteen, over a year ago. I am skipping that poem now. I guess I want to say that I catered, we all in this neighborhood catered to her disabilities over this last year until I missed her presence behind my car several days ago. I ran her over, but she was endangering herself for over a year before something happened. I still am sure that if someone had to run her over it was best that I did it. I am not going to be free of guilt and grief for a long time over this one.

"We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox."
- Nicholas Sparks

"Listen closely. The eternal hush of silence goes on and on throughout all this, and has been going on, and will go on and on. This is because the world is nothing but a dream and is just thought of and the everlasting eternity pays no attention to it."
- Jack Kerouac

What the poem does not say remains flat true. We could not meet like this if we did not also meet in silence.

How We Met

You said, it happens
just like that. I said, of course
it does, like feathers,
fluff floating in air,
like parasol seeds gliding
down the sloping drafts.
We could float away
because we met like gardens,
like summer winds do.

Jul 8, 2009 11:40 AM

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm In My Own Way

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.
- William Ellery Channing

How to Grow Clouds
"It takes a lot of work: it is necessary to weed very carefully, to toss out muck and small stones by hand, to kneel on the earth, bend over, dig about in the soil, water profusely, collect caterpillars, exterminate aphids, loosen the ground and serve the earth; when your back hurts from all this and you straighten up and look at the sky, you will have the prettiest clouds."
- Karel Capek
translated by Andrew Malcovsky
wood's lot

Here's another offering for Three Word Wednesday. The words in italics are the words given to appear in the work. At this moment there are forty two offerings, forty-three different creative pieces from all over the internet. My poem will become the forty-fourth.

As usual in these matters of love it turns out I am my own worst enemy.

I'm In My Own Way

You have given me
a real break, a fine, fine gift,
yes, one for the books,
and me, the guy who
stands here all so negative
in spite of your love.

I feel like a tired
swimmer struggling so toward
the surface of things.

September 2, 2010 9:38 AM

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Living A Long Time

"Although we have no actual written communications from the world of emptiness, we have some hints or suggestions about what is going on in that world, and that is, you might say, enlightenment."
- Shunryu Suzuki
not always so

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tzu

Sometimes we come up short… Or maybe there is a time for love and another for some other thing… I know I have been single for nearly three years and it’s okay. Even now that my cat has died and I really am in this house alone, it’s still okay. Far too old to change…it is just so much work! I don’t know why I want to work that hard any more. That’s part of the reason the bosses out there don’t want older workers. We want to be well paid for not much any more. We know we deserve that because of forty years of service, even if it isn’t realistic to anyone else. The same may be true in loving. If it isn’t okay to just be me, then the love engagement is too much work. I need my energy elsewhere. I need to write the poetry, play the music, encourage my friends, serve in AA, find my peace before I go. I am fairly busy. Building a new world...Oh.....My.....God.

Living A Long Time

If I took your words
as serious as you meant
I would have to change
my love, transform it
beyond my understanding,
answer completely
with all new bright words
as if you were no longer
you, but my lost maid
come back to me now,
at this late stage of my life
and me far too old
to change.

July 7, 2009 12:58 PM

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