Monday, February 28, 2011

My Human Condition - Reprise

The Human Condition - Rene Magritte - 1935

"Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people." - William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and dramatist of English descent, and one of the most popular figures of 20th century literature among pro-Irish Americans.

"The cause of all our personal problems and nearly all the problems of the world can be summed up in a single sentence: Human life is very deep, and our modern dominant lifestyle is not." - Bo Lozoff

Lozoff, with his wife Sita Lozoff, founded the Human Kindness Foundation. He started the Prison-Ashram Project with Ram Dass in 1973. The Prison-Ashram Project (operated by Human Kindness Foundation) sends free interfaith books, compact discs, and correspondence to prisoners around the world, and has over 40,000 inmates on its active mailing list. Lozoff speaks widely on spiritual issues, including talks in prisons, public talks, sermons, and musical performances.

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." - Albert Einstein

Here's the poem that I posted immediately before I woke in the middle of the night and realized I had better go to hospital with pain in my chest. They found enzymes and then looked for blockages. They found two. They placed a stent in the first and told me the other was too small for angioplasty. They suggested that I would reduce the blockage by doing drugs. I don't know if they were right or not, but that was May 6, 2009 at two in the morning that I left home for emergency and I haven't had any further trouble with clogged veins. However, now I have this other issue called diastolic heart failure. Human condition, indeed. Just a bumbling old man with a new quaver in his voice because the lungs don't work so good right now. I fear I will be too resistant and will piss off some of the people who care about me.

I went to work today and observed the stress bubble over while I tried to avoid buying it myself. We are on too fast a track and we will screw it up. Life in the fast lane. I really am tired - and if I can I must, another five years. It will be the death of me...but pretty near anything will now. Human condition, indeed.

It is time to take up the begging bowl and retreat into the forest, there to consort with demons and tigers, with devas and with gods and goddesses, so I chant

Om shreem Mahalakshmiyei swaha. Om dum Durgayei swaha. Om gum Ganapatiyei swaha. Om namah Shivaya, Shivaya, namah Om. Om namah Shivaya, yavashi manah Om. Om apadamapa hataram dataram sarva sampadam lokha bhi Ramam, shri Ramam, buyo buyo namamyaham.

Sacred syllables, all. Keeps tigers at bay. I need that. There is a small tiger in my house just now.

My Human Condition

Total soul eclipse
As I stuff myself with toys
And the sugary
Dollops, diversions
Of my own greedy senses,

Yet the dry desert
Of avoiding things
Builds toward an explosion
I just cannot stop.

Why then is it so
The middle way is slicker,
More slippery than
My poor toes can grip
And I slide to either side
Again and again?

December 31, 2008 1:54 PM
First posted May 5, 2009

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kipling On Tigers - Reprise

A friend shared this Polish group called MozART and in looking around I saw Bobby McFerrin did something with them and so I am sharing this joy with you now. Oh My God. Bobby is just about the nicest musician on the planet with a heart as big as Alaska and as warm as the tropics. He also has a vocal range rarely surpassed by anyone. His work does not take place on the popular front, though he did have a hit in "Don't Worry, Be Happy". You can see on this vid how easy he is on stage and at home in all forms of music.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. Kipling was one of the most popular writers in England, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author Henry James said of him: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known."

(I read a book a while ago, The Life Of Pi, a story about a boy who was on an ocean voyage with his family and the zoo that was their business. When the ship goes down he survives by finding a lifeboat and unfortunately there is a zebra, an orangutan...and a tiger. He learns what he needs to and survives the tiger. Then the story takes a turn. Read it if you don't know it. It is quite fun and very strange.)

Kipling On Tigers

Kipling spoke to me,
Showed me the tiger's new lair
And where his tracks went.

He told me Bengals swim, drink
Brackish water when they must.

Never, he said, no,
Do not ever look him square
In his golden eyes.

December 30, 2008 2:59 PM
First post, May 1, 2009

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vanquishing Demons - Reprise

Artist: Philip Straub
Medium: Photoshop and Painter
About this Image: A painting created for the popular trading card game, Magic The Gathering

"I think we each have a personal sweet spot as well. It's the state of mind in which we experience the most joy and satisfaction in being ourselves. And from that place of pleasure and joy in being ourselves, energy arises to flow out into our day bringing with it the depth and resonance of our own beingness, bringing with it blessing." - David Spangler

David Spangler (born 7 January 1945) is an American spiritual philosopher and self-described "practical mystic". He helped transform the Findhorn Foundation in northern Scotland into a centre of residential spiritual education. Spangler is considered one of the founding figures of the modern New Age movement, although he is highly critical of what much of the movement has since become**, especially its commercialistic and sensationalist elements. In recent years he has emphasized a practical or incarnational spirituality in which our everyday lives—our physical, embodied, sometimes resplendent and sometimes shabby persons—can be experienced as spiritual or sacred, as opposed to a spirituality concerned solely with the transpersonal and transcendent.

**(although he is highly critical of what much of the movement has since become) - oh yes indeedy. I refuse to associate with almost all of it. I was a Hippie. The real ones moved on. Many went into the hills but there were those like Stewart Brand who built a kind of New Capitalism. Some went into this New Age thing but I have to believe again that the real ones moved on. It is really easy to allow the demons to devour you.

Sometimes like John Lennon who wrote Imagine, the demons get you in the guise of another deluded soul on the planet. Back in the 60's I partially read the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol?). In that book it pointed out that to the trained spirit the demons are just as I describe here, and your soul depends on not allowing foul smoke to govern your path, no matter how demonic threats seem to become real, to matter, to solidify before you on the path. So...

Vanquishing Demons

Imagine the world
Reaching past your fear of loss,
Giving you the sun.

The demons have departed.
They've gone underground for now.

They were just foul smoke
No substance, only swagger.
This will be your truth.

December 31, 2008 3:42 PM
First posted, May 10, 2009

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tracking Signs

"For a hundred years the 'Ice Maiden' was trapped .....but now she is free and a new Ice Age is dawning!" This image was featured in the Expose section of the Dec 2006 Imagine FX magazine

"It is easy to overlook this thought that life just is. As humans we are inclined to feel that life must have a point. We have plans and aspirations and desires. We want to take constant advantage of the intoxicating existence we've been endowed with.

But what's life to a lichen? Yet its impulse to exist, to be, is every bit as strong as ours - arguably even stronger. If I were told that I had to spend decades being a furry growth on a rock in the woods, I believe I would lose the will to go on. Lichens don't. Like virtually all living things, they will suffer any hardship, endure any insult, for a moment's additional existence. Life, in short just wants to be."
- Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, (born December 8, 1951) is a best-selling American author of humorous books on travel, as well as books on the English language and on science. Born an American, he was a resident of North Yorkshire, UK, for most of his professional life before moving back to the US in 1995. In 2003 Bryson moved back to the UK, living in Norfolk, and was appointed Chancellor of Durham University.

This poem brings to light the way women dissappear and appear in the north, or the winter, in the snow in my life. The View From The Northern Wall, Noordwal. In the Chinese version of the directions, the North is the place of solitude. South is plenitude, East beginnings, and West endings.

Or is it God? I'll wager :) Hmmm. Goddess.

Of course to bring it down home, my last lover left Oregon, emigrating to British Columbia. How much more literal can I get?

Tracking Signs

You've gone north and you
Expect me to follow you
But I see no trail.
That means I'll have to
Track the signs you've left again.
That will slow me down.

(shaking the rain off)

Not that I suck at signs, no,
I follow them well,
Hardly ever get
Lost so bad I must give up
In disgust, go home.

You know all of this,
Of course you do. I admit
This pisses me off.

Still, my heart hangs here
Now that you've gone walking
As if I don't count,
As if it's me that
Disappeared, or I didn't
Care enough for you.

January 10, 2009 9:15 AM

First published Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Discussion - Reprise

Blaise Pascal; June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662, was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic philosopher. He invented a mechanical calculator. Pascal was a mathematician of the first order. He helped create two major new areas of research. He wrote a significant treatise on the subject of projective geometry at the age of sixteen, and later corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science. Following Galileo and Torricelli, in 1646 he refuted Aristotle's followers who insisted that nature abhors a vacuum. There is so much more. Wiki him. This was a remarkable man.

One of my favorite blog moments, the post that contained this discussion of Pascal's Wager also contained another poem that I like very much. I am reprising Pascal tonight and we will see what tomorrow brings.

This poem is written in gratitude to Blaise Pascal, who pointed out that belief in God cannot in the end be buttressed by reason. This was not a new claim in Pascal's time, but what came next was. If not by reason, then perhaps we shall approach God in the form of a wager thus, if you choose to believe in God you may gain much and lose little. If you choose that you do not believe, you risk much and what you can gain is doubtful. The wager seems clear. Small risk in believing and much possible gain, that position sitting in an elevated position over the larger risk of disbelieving with no clear gain. Such a wager may not be palatable as an underpinning of belief. Many people have tried to refute it. Some have possibly succeeded.

For example, and a big one if you are a stoic or some other philo-soph - lover of truth, keeping integrity with truth may count for a great deal. Thus the risk of believing is increased greatly in the loss of truth if God really doesn't exist. However the wager cannot be reasonably denied in anything like the ease with which it can be stated. The wager was a groundbreaking philosophical point that no one had done before him. Pascal's Wager opened up probability theory (and Pascal developed a probability theory after making his wager), anticipated pragmatism and voluntarism as philosophical movements, and the wager was part of a group of observations that attacks certainty and thus his wager may be considerred the first work of existentialism.

Do not understand this wager as a reason to believe by itself. That is not how Pascal meant it at all. However, not everyone was pleased with Pascal. The wager was published posthumously and thus Pascal escaped all brouhaha. If you are interested in the replies that philosophers made and all that, just Wiki Pascal's Wager. It turns out there were forerunners of the wager in Islam and Hinduism. No one operates in a vacuum, nor does he have a truly original idea (in the sense that no one else ever thought of it.)


You said, "Better to
Believe in God, risking there
Is no God than the other way."
I said, "Better to
Believe in the work, risking there
Is no satisfaction than not believing
Which guarantees no satisfaction."
God woke up at that, sang
"Boys will be boys.
And girls will be girls.
It's a crazy mixed up world."

January 9, 2009 3:37 PM

This poem first appeared in the May 31, 2009 post. This was a few weeks after my first heart event.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chewing Sticks - Reprise

Red Fox Kit Chews On A Stick, Spring 2007©Con Daily Photography

(I know, I know, this is a red fox, not a dog. I am partial to this picture.)

"We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing." - Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist. She is best known for the novel Little Women, set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, and published in 1868. This novel is loosely based on her childhood experiences with her three sisters. Alcott was the daughter of noted transcendentalist and educator Amos Bronson Alcott. Alcott's early education included lessons from the naturalist Henry David Thoreau. She received the majority of her schooling from her father. She received some instruction also from writers and educators such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller, who were all family friends.


I have known many dogs who delight in chew toys and I have played tug of war with many of them. That game is completely satisfying on its own or as part of a toss the stick game. The only drawback is slobber. Sometimes you get an acrobatic dog and everything reaches a higher level. Then playing with a dog is almost as much fun as a cat with a red laser light or a feather toy. You can get cats to walk on walls and ceilings. :D

Chewing Sticks

If I had pastimes
Like your dog does chewing sticks
Maybe I would not
Collect useless junk,
Would not have drank half to death,
Would not write so much

January 19, 2009 11:38 PM

first posted June 25, 2009

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Maybe I Should Stop This - Reprise

"Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone."[from Never Eat Alone] - Margaret J. Wheatley

Margaret J. Wheatley (commonly Meg Wheatley) is a writer and management consultant who studies organizational behavior. Her approach includes systems thinking, theories of change, chaos theory, leadership and the learning organization: particularly its capacity to self-organize. Her work is often compared to that of Donella Meadows and Dee Hock. She describes her work as opposing "highly controlled mechanistic systems that only create robotic behaviors."

Christopher says: Meg has stated the Buddhist law of interdependence here in her own way. That we tend to think of ourselves is distinct and separate is one main source of the illusions that hamper our spiritual development.

"The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned." - Antonio Gramsci

Antonio Gramsci (1891 - 1937) was a leading Italian Marxist. He was an intellectual, a journalist and a major theorist who spent his last eleven years in Mussolini’s prisons.

I am really, really stubborn. This is not good. :)

Maybe I Should Stop This

I said, give me signs.

You said you did, gave me sores
on my dreams of hope,
a pox on my heart,
the grinding walk, stone on stone
and me between them,
lost and losing more.

You said all my pains show me
that I don't know shit,
that I don't think straight,
that I still persist, insist;
I want my own way.

February 9, 2009 11:07 AM
revised February 19, 2011.

It's a joke, okay?
Sort of.

First published, August 30,2009

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pushing Ahead

So I stayed home on Wednesday and got a bunch of stuff done.

One unique experience for me was getting fired by my primary care person, who is a Nurse Practitioner. She decided I was too complex a case, with two kinds of heart trouble and diabetees (though the diabetes is not much).

I drove through to completion, I hope, on my end a refinance of my house.

I have been getting tests done on the rise in anticoagulant levels, and in the last test, the diuretic consequences were checked. Everything is working out fine.


I came down with the grandmother of all viral attacks on my respiratory system yesterday and lost today's work and blog post too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I now have a diagnosis. I am in a mild state of "diastolic heart failure." Google and Wiki it. I have the kind that will put too much fluid around my lungs (not in them unless it gets really bad) and makes it difficult to breathe and difficult for the oxygenated blood to get back into the ventricle. For now should be controllable with beta blockers, diuretics and anti-coagulants. Getting old is not for sissies.

They say that the musculature governing the relaxation fill stroke (diastole) has gotten stiff from one or more causes that may never be clear. In my case I did not treat a modest high blood pressure for years (130s-140s). This is a possible contender for cause. Nothing is certain. The stiffness does not permit full loads in one or the other ventricle so that blood from the lungs does not reach good capacity prior to the stroke that drives the blood onward to the body. Thus if I work the body hard enough I will tire out much faster than people with healthy hearts will.

Tired Love

Allah Hafiz الله حافظ
Put together like this: "May God be your guardian."

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being." - Hafiz of Shiraz

Khwāja Šamsu d-Dīn Muḥammad Hāfez-e Šīrāzī (Persian: خواجه شمس‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی), known by his pen name Hāfez (1325/26–1389/90) was a Persian lyric poet. His collected works (Divan) are to be found in the homes of most Iranians, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day.

Three Word Wednesday offers:

Blink; verb: to open and close the eye, especially involuntarily; wink rapidly and repeatedly.

Kind; adjective: of a good or benevolent nature or disposition.

Occasion; noun: a particular time, especially as marked by certain circumstances or occurrences.

Tired Love

Why I could not tell,
you did not blink your glassy
eye, nor did you nod.

I wish to see you
defrocked, unclothed, blessed in kind
light though I fall out
of my worn saddle,
this exhausted occasion,
me beneath notice.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 6:29 AM

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Club Icarus

Medium: Photoshop, Painter, Maya
About this Image: A painting created for the Electronic Arts game Command and ConquerArt by Philip Straub

For over 17 years Philip Straub has been creating art for the games, film, and publishing industries. He is the author and creator of the award winning illustrated Novel and interactive website, Utherworlds and co-author of D'artiste Digital Painting.

I love this poem. I want to be the poet who wrote this poem. I am not. However I can feature the poem here on my blog. I can let you all know he is in the world and a little about who he is. You too can Google him as I did. You can find him at Phillips Exeter Academy as I did. I love the internet for this capacity for connection.

Club Icarus

We're no more than a few silver
seconds in the air when that winged
and cocky boy gets sucked
into a turbine sparking off a fire
that rips the starboard wing
away from the fuselage, shucking
passengers out and raining
us over northern California, dozens
of us dropping towards the bay
and you can imagine the screams,
I'm sure, the prayers cast up
then down the twirling sky,
and yet here's my daughter
laughing the whole way
down, her yellow hair whipping
around her first teeth smile,
as she titters at the tilted
wonder of what was happening,
rolling airborne over and over,
as we all drop like sacks of wet
clay and for a second I want to snag
her, to show her how frightened
she should be, so I can hug
her safe one last time, but the way
she looks laughing I just can't
and so as the brick of the bay
comes up to kiss my back I watch
my little girl giggling, grinning
floppy-cheeked into the wind
and then, damn, if I don't see, right
before the world splits my sides,
wings all her own butterfly
from her back and lift her
laughing back into the blue.

Harvard Review
Number 39

Miller is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. He earned a B.A. in Psychology at Yale University, and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College. He is a former Visiting Professor of Writing at New England College and has taught writing workshops at several leading institutions, including Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts. He has published work in Notre Dame Review, Connecticut Review and PN Review, among others. Miller’s first book, Cameo Diner: Poems, was published in 2005 by Loom Press and nominated for five Pushcart Prizes. Currently, Matt teaches English and coaches football at Phillips Exeter Academy where he is also chair of the Lamont Poet Committee, serves on the Bennet Fellow Writer in Residence Committee, and is faculty advisor for the surf club.

What a guy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Honor of Robert Johnson (I'll Play Such A Lick)

Interestingly, there are other contenders in the myth of Robert Johnson's devil-purchased soul -- and the crossroads of US 61 and US 49 in Clarksdale is where most blues tourists pay their respects (the Romantics album released in 2003 is called "61/49" for this reason)*.

Of course -- as with ancient Roman tourists setting off to find "sites" from Greek myths -- the location of Johnson's crossroads is not exactly something that can be proven. He was born in Hazelhurst, and his supposed grave is in Quito (near Itta Bena) -- but Rosedale did figure in the lyrics for one of Johnson's most famous songs, "Traveling Riverside Blues".

*To my good friend, Mike Skill, rock on!!

Story by Matt Morgan with some modifications and additions by me, Artwork by Ricardo Pustanio

Robert Johnson, born Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) is among the most famous of Delta blues musicians. His landmark recordings from 1936–1937 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson's shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend. Considered by some to be the "Grandfather of Rock-and-Roll", his vocal phrasing, original songs, and guitar style have influenced a broad range of musicians, including John Fogerty, Bob Dylan, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers Band, The Rolling Stones, Paul Butterfield, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, The Band, Neil Young, Warren Zevon, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton, who called Johnson "the most important blues musician who ever lived". He was also ranked fifth in Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He is an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Meeting with the Devil at the Crossroads
A "vision", as told by Henry Goodman

Robert Johnson been playing down in Yazoo City and over at Beulah trying to get back up to Helena, ride left him out on a road next to the levee, walking up the highway, guitar in his hand propped up on his shoulder. October cool night, full moon filling up the dark sky, Robert Johnson thinking about Son House preaching to him, "Put that guitar down, boy, you drivin' people nuts." Robert Johnson needing as always a woman and some whiskey. Big trees all around, dark and lonesome road, a crazed, poisoned dog howling and moaning in a ditch alongside the road sending electrified chills up and down Robert Johnson's spine, coming up on a crossroads just south of Rosedale. Robert Johnson, feeling bad and lonesome, knows people up the highway in Gunnison. Can get a drink of whiskey and more up there. Man sitting off to the side of the road on a log at the crossroads says, "You're late, Robert Johnson." Robert Johnson drops to his knees and says, "Maybe not."

The man stands up, tall, barrel-chested, and black as the forever-closed eyes of Robert Johnson's stillborn baby, and walks out to the middle of the crossroads where Robert Johnson kneels. He says, "Stand up, Robert Johnson. You want to throw that guitar over there in that ditch with that hairless dog and go on back up to Robinsonville and play the harp with Willie Brown and Son, because you just another guitar player like all the rest, or you want to play that guitar like nobody ever played it before? Make a sound nobody ever heard before? You want to be the King of the Delta Blues and have all the whiskey and women you want?"

"That's a lot of whiskey and women, Devil-Man."

"I know you, Robert Johnson," says the man.

Robert Johnson, feels the moonlight bearing down on his head and the back of his neck as the moon seems to be growing bigger and bigger and brighter and brighter. He feels it like the heat of the noonday sun bearing down, and the howling and moaning of the dog in the ditch penetrates his soul, coming up through his feet and the tips of his fingers through his legs and arms, settling in that big empty place beneath his breastbone causing him to shake and shudder like a man with the palsy. Robert Johnson says, "That dog gone mad."

The man laughs. "That hound belong to me. He ain't mad, he's got the Blues. I got his soul in my hand."

The dog lets out a low, long soulful moan, a howling like never heard before, rhythmic, syncopated grunts, yelps, and barks, seizing Robert Johnson like a Grand Mal, and causing the strings on his guitar to vibrate, hum, and sing with a sound dark and blue, beautiful, soulful chords and notes possessing Robert Johnson, taking him over, spinning him around, losing him inside of his own self, wasting him, lifting him up into the sky. Robert Johnson looks over in the ditch and sees the eyes of the dog reflecting the bright moonlight or, more likely so it seems to Robert Johnson, glowing on their own, a deep violet penetrating glow, and Robert Johnson knows and feels that he is staring into the eyes of a Hellhound as his body shudders from head to toe.

The man says, "The dog ain't for sale, Robert Johnson, but the sound can be yours. That's the sound of the Delta Blues."

"I got to have that sound, Devil-Man. That sound is mine. Where do I sign?"

The man says, "You ain't got a pencil, Robert Johnson. Your word is good enough. All you got to do is keep walking north. But you better be prepared. There are consequences."

"Prepared for what, Devil-man?"

"You know where you are, Robert Johnson? You are standing in the middle of the crossroads. At midnight, that full moon is right over your head. You take one more step, you'll be in Rosedale. You take this road to the east, you'll get back over to Highway 61 in Cleveland, or you can turn around and go back down to Beulah or just go to the west and sit up on the levee and look at the River. But if you take one more step in the direction you're headed, you going to be in Rosedale at midnight under this full October moon, and you are going to have the Blues like never known to this world. My left hand will be forever wrapped around your soul, and your music will possess all who hear it. That's what's going to happen. That's what you better be prepared for. Your soul will belong to me. This is not just any crossroads. I put this "X" here for a reason, and I been waiting on you."

Robert Johnson rolls his head around, his eyes upwards in their sockets to stare at the blinding light of the moon which has now completely filled tie pitch-black Delta night, piercing his right eye like a bolt of lightning as the midnight hour hits. He looks the big man squarely in the eyes and says, "Step back, Devil-Man, I'm going to Rosedale. I am the Blues."

The man moves to one side and says, "Go on, Robert Johnson. You the King of the Delta Blues. Go on home to Rosedale. And when you get on up in town, you get you a plate of hot tamales because you going to be needing something on your stomach where you're headed."

I am sharing this, nearly the entire Robert Johnson poat taken from the site Haunted America Tours. Thank you so much. May you have all due success and happiness. It was too good not to share. That I should find an oblique reference to a friend of mine in the whole thing was just too much.

Here is another crossroads. This poem was first posted April 24, 2009

I'll Play Such A Lick

Here at the crossroads
I shall bring out my guitar
And play such a lick
The world will begin.

You will come down the bright lines
Of the eternal highway
To stand before me.
I will mute my sound and bow,
Then will gather all.

December 29, 2008 9:27 AM

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm Already Taken - Reprise

Medium: Photoshop and Maya
About this Image: A painting for the Philip Straub original IP, Utherworlds.
Purchase the Utherworlds novel: Utherworlds The Illustrated Novel
Experience the Utherworlds website:

I strongly suggest clicking on this painting and magnifying it to get a better view.

"In commitment, we dash the hopes of a thousand potential selves." - Lord Byron

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet and a leading figure in Romanticism. Amongst Byron's best-known works are the brief poems She Walks in Beauty, When We Two Parted, and So, we'll go no more a roving, in addition to the narrative poems Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential.

Originally posted TUESDAY, MARCH 2, 2010

Here’s a poem about commitment. I wonder how many other things it is about.

I'm Already Taken

The wind and earth fought
over me but I belong
to the pale moonlight,
to starry rivers,
to the morning shine of sun,
to your warm rose heart.

April 15, 2009 12:58 PM

Update: I am getting used to injecting myself as I must with blood thinner. I feel better than I have for some time even though nothing has been done, and this may be so because I have continued to use Lasix, a diuretic. They used it and shed me of ten pounds of fluid in hospital. I decided to continue, resuming its use on returning home. I stopped after it seemed to no longer treat the edema in my legs months ago, before any of this new stuff had come into view. I felt okay because I had talked the doctor into the diuretic based on nothing more than my legs.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Erotic Certainty - Reprise

Oil on canvas, 133.4 × 196.2 cm (52 ½ × 77 ¼ inches).
This painting and this photo are in the public domain.

There is a detail in this painting that is difficult to see at this size. If you follow the link or click on the painting and you will get a larger size and can see the other angel plainly. There are two angels in this picture.

"How long should you try? Until." - Jim Rohn

Emanuel James "Jim" Rohn was born in Yakima, Washington to Emanuel and Clara Rohn. The Rohns owned and worked a farm in Idaho where Jim grew up, as an only child. Jim Rohn (September 17, 1930 - December 5, 2009) was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. His rags to riches story played a large part in his work, which influenced others in the personal development industry.

I first posted this January 17, 2010. I feel it even more relevant this moment, more than a year later. Even while I struggle, even while I watch bruises form from too thin blood and feel the pin pricks of self administered injections and through which I gather small drops of blood to check my sugar level, even now I remember what it is like to hold someone close, to feel the positive changes, the magnetism, to breathe another into me and approach ecstasy.

But I am old now...

I was a lover but now no longer equal to that task, no longer on the quest for dragons, no longer willing to stand my ground and hold the dark at bay. What I do, I do in story and fable and poem, do utilizing my cleverness. I delegate. I give way to the young bucks who know everything and then I watch how it turns out. It is ever thus, always this way. I fell short of senior independence. I do not have enough. I am in the position of the elderly who go out on the ice to save the tribe the burden. This is nothing to grieve, not in the best of worlds, just what is. Most days I am okay with it.

While this is still a story at this moment, it is really there in my near future. I have about fifteen years max if I judge by my mother and father. But I added the self abuse of alcoholism. That is the point. This is not far away for me. It is easily right next door, tomorrow. If I pretend otherwise I begin to be pathetic in my denial. I watched a dear friend who tried desperately to deny his mortality while it trimmed his edges piece by piece. I vowed long ago I would not let myself be in that position. I have carried death on my shoulder for decades, ever since Don Juan Matus (Casteneda) made that spiritual gesture so obviously right for me to do. Now I am reaping the benefit.

Erotic Certainty

You have given me
words, ruby flames rising
higher than I can
for I am old now
and you hold the true arrow
of the time to come.
Still we both know words
with erotic certainty
given as we love.

March 19, 2009 8:14 AM

Friday, February 11, 2011

Life Is Not For Sissies.

Thank you, my friends. I have hit a real change point. The other shoe dropped from nearly two years ago. I have been complaining of some tiredness, exhaustion, and really low metabolism for quite some time. It has confused me. Now I know it is heart related.

I had to return to hospital and get more observation and help.

The condition is atrial fibrillation, where the atria of the heart no longer pump in synch with the ventrical all the time. It means the flow of blood around my body is too weak to maintain high end and even sometimes normal activity. Apparently it is not in itself at a serious level to be of life threatening concern, but the stroke that can come of it is. There are some other anomalies that may signal some other stuff to come.

I am being ramped up at this moment into the coumadin regime that is prescribed to people who are at risk for this kind of stroke. This not only entails being introduced to coumadin but also, I must inject myself now with another blood thinner called Lovenox to bridge me into the new lifestyle. My mother was on this regime but had a stroke anyway. Her heart trouble was controlled. This is no joke. I live alone so I must wear my big boy pants and do the right thing without encouragement and some other watchful eye.

I am getting boxed in. I really need to stop working but if I do then I lose the supplemental insurance and watch my life fall apart because I have no retirement. So with all this extra stuff and less energy I have to continue working if I possibly can. At least my skill is high and so is my boss' loyalty at this moment. Who knows how he will be in the future, or how I will be either.

This is a common end of life dilemma in this day and age. My spirit is not that bad, considering, but my comfort level is at a lower ebb. I would prefer now to not have any life struggles to go with the medical struggles. They are going to be quite large enough.

I will probably post as usual tomorrow. Another thing that has happened, my main computer has failed with a start up corruption of some kind (says corrupt file(s)). I tried a system restore. I don't want to reload from the beginning and lose files. Too many poems to lose, though should be less than six that aren't in hard copy. My last remote drive back up was mid January. Oh well.

I love you one friend of mine says, "I love your guts." Keep courage, stay peaceful, find wisdom, do the right thing. Love your people.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Human Condition

"No matter how deep a study you make. What you really have to rely on is your own intuition and when it comes down to it, you really don't know what's going to happen until you do it." - Konosuke Matsushita

Wiki says: Konosuke Matsushita (松下 幸之助 Matsushita Kōnosuke, November 27, 1894 – April 27, 1989) was a Japanese industrialist, the founder of Panasonic, a company based in the suburb of Kadoma (on the Keihan line), Osaka in Japan. For many Japanese, he is known as "the god of management".

Originally posted on May 5, 2009, this was the last post just before my first what I call "heart event". I think it is interesting that the title should be what it is. This is, I think, an excellent example of what is for me a useless tie that I have with my own future. I cannot predict it even to save my life. And yet I sort of do in this vague and unconscious way. After the fact I can look at such things and see how they tie together. Hind sight is not very useful.

I am posting it now to tie together my two heart events. This atrial fibrillation that came up yesterday (see my last post) has been going on for quite a while now I can see in hind sight. The worst thing about it in my daily affairs, I am exhausted all the time. I am not at huge risk for some larger heart event. What I am told is my high risk now is stroke. They are putting me on Coumadin shortly to keep my blood thin. This is controlled hemophilia. I was on Plavix for a year to guard against a clot forming at the stent they put in.

I am returning to work tomorrow.

My Human Condition

Total soul eclipse
As I stuff myself with toys
And the sugary
Dollops, diversions
Of my own greedy senses,

Yet the dry desert
Of avoiding things
Builds toward an explosion
I just cannot stop.

Why then is it so
The middle way is slicker,
More slippery than
My poor toes can grip
And I slide to either side
Again and again?

December 31, 2008 1:54 PM

Monday, February 7, 2011

Searching For Sources

Sunrise at Demerju
Author: p1aton

Demerju may be located in Croatia. Nothing is certain.

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein

I have spent the day in the emergency room instead of going to work. Shortness of breath took me there. We have discovered atrial fibrillation. I will shortly go on a Coumadin regime to dissolve any possible clot that has formed. I will need to be close to doctors for a while. This explains how difficult it has been in the last little while. Growing old is not for the faint of heart.

Wiki says: Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) and involves the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. Its name comes from the fibrillating (i.e., quivering) of the heart muscles of the atria, instead of a coordinated contraction.

As I have mentioned before, I feel a great urgency in this work I do here.

Searching For Sources

When I look into
Your waters, Oh God, I see
no sign of my face.

When I look into
the waters of my own soul
some odd signs appear.

I search Your sources and spells.
I find smoke in my hot white eyes.

October 22, 2009 12:45 AM
rewritten, ‎February 7, ‎2011 8:12 PM

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wooden Head

Pinocchio - Matthew Hart with Geppetto - Luke Haydon
Copyright : John Ross ©
The UK performance of Pinocchio, the ballet in Linbury, December, 2005

Wooden Head

If I was a real boy
I might not need to hide from
you under my sheet.

I might not then tell
stories of domination
and triumph over
all the land and sea.

I might reveal this
wrinkled fallen broken soul
if I was a real boy
and my heart was healed.

July 18, 2009 12:40 PM

changed “perfect” to “a real boy”,
and "heart" to "soul"
February 6, 2011 12:04 PM

changed the title from
"Pulling My Covers" to "Wooden Head"
7:04 PM

This poem should have posted a long time ago, but there was something wrong with it. I took a look this morning and things fell in place. "Wooden Head" and "real boy" are phrases associated with Pinocchio as long as I have known the story. I did not feel I wanted a cartoon character. I got ballet artistes instead. The meat of the poem is not meant to be a portrait of Pinocchio. That is too direct. I was not thinking of Pinocchio when I first composed the poem.

I was however thinking of being stuck in a role, perhaps a self constructed and miserable role, and yearning for a simple and less painful life - perhaps being stuck something like being an unintentional wooden headed gargoyle in the wrong job just waiting for the other shoe to drop because you are failing and you know it. That happened to me in the mid nineties, rather late in my career. I had been placed in over my head and I was trying to be a design crew supervisor with almost no training relevant to the design discipline. While supervisory duties were an expected part of my job description, hi-tech utility piping (exotic atmospheres and materials and clean room protocols) was not. I was out of place and hopeless. I did get fired, the worst moment of my career before or since. I was twenty years senior at the time.

I was locked out and walked off the job and they packed me up themselves, demonstrating the degree of distrust they felt they needed to show. Of course I never worked for either that client or my engineering company again. It is really small consolation that I did nothing but try my best and fail. Anyone in politics or business who has been through this sort of thing can tell you there is no consolation in explanations or extenuating circumstances. I did not even know enough about things to say I was unqualified and refuse the assignment at the start of it. I was used to success. The atmosphere was horrid and the guy I was replacing looked at me with pity as he left. He was from another local company and they were being shown the door for corporate political reasons. We were replacing that company. It was a bad job.

It was a commuting job too. We were carpooling about forty miles. I had to sit with my design crew all the way home with everyone knowing my situation. What I experienced on that car ride was extreme shame. There was nothing I could say nor that they could say that could make it any better. We were all surprised.

If I was a real boy none of this would happen. Do you see the fantasy? Don't think I don't.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

There Are Threats

I have been paranoid before, but not for a long time. I know no one much cares to know about me now. I know this even if it is not true. I choose to know this. It makes life easier and more effective. I haven't had clues that I was being watched or listened to or followed for a long time now.

When I was a dope dealer though, there were some dicey times and one in particular. This was in December, 1971. I had gone out of my comfort zone and shortly after some strange things happened. I wound up headed to arrange a pot buy and realized that the road was not right, and it felt exactly as if I was being followed. I pulled a check ploy, going off the freeway in an unlighted area, knowing I could go back on. Someone did that with me. This road was a residential turn off I knew about and while busy in the day because of a golf course, this was night with only local residents using it. It was too weird when that car did what I did, going right back on the freeway. I dumped the buy completely at that point, and my goal was now to get home in one piece, with the money intact so I could give it back to the people who fronted me and get the car back to its owner too. I was successful at getting away but was completely convinced I was being set up. I was also quite high.

A week later a friend of mine who worked at the local paper turned gray when he saw me and said, "What are you doing here?" It turned out he had seen my name on a prepublication grand jury indictment list given to the paper in preparation for the expected arrests in the very near future. I decided to trust his access because it made sense of what had happened to me.

In those first days after my road trip out of town but before I got that information it stayed weird. There were odd people about and strange goings on. I felt really exposed and at risk. I made a decision to get out of town. I also decided who my friends were based on whether they could take my distress seriously or not. I was really aware that I was right next to insane if not over the line. I had two roommates in this apartment we lived in, in an older house. We were not paying rent and on the way out the door. We all decided that the heat was on. It certainly felt like it. The task was to stay cool and not spin out totally. I went to Arizona for a few weeks and when I came back it was to a totally different life.

The line between distress at a real situation and paranoia is vague at best. I know there was trouble but I will never know how much was in our shared worry and how much was bearing in from the outside. The report about the list was real. The car and other stuff on the road that night was real too. The stuff that happened at the house was real but it was not clear what it was.

But if the list was real, how come I was never popped? I have had to take on faith that I somehow did the right thing and it voided their intentions. It really scared me but not how you might think. What scared me was I knew that I was not strong enough to tough out the way it would go. I was afraid I would be put in a situation where I had no way out but suicide. See, I knew it wasn't me but my supplier they were after. That guy was known to be a smuggler with Mexico connections but basically untouchable, except they knew, I surmised, that I knew him. I was afraid that they would give me an offer I couldn't say no to, and it would mean ratting out my friend. He trusted me and had fronted me dope more than once. I felt I would have to commit suicide as the only way out of all that, jail or being a rat. That's what scared me.

Paranoia...even paranoids are sometimes right. Sometimes they really are persecuted.

The gate and the glass shards on top of the high walls are however from an earlier time when I lived in Dacca (now Dhaka) in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

There Are Threats

They come at me with
words and sneers, innuendos
and even placards
hung on my steel gate.

The glass shards atop my wall
keep nothing much out.

You tell me suffer
and grow stronger. Don't you know
I would if I could?

October 21, 2009 1:14 PM

Friday, February 4, 2011


Elena Dudina did both of these. She is elusive. I can find lots of her work all over the internet. There is very little about her. I know she is Spanish and it appears she lives in France. I am highly responsive to her work. Doesn't it feel haunted to you? Elena's work feels haunted to me.

As far as I am concerned, loving a woman is not always clearly distinguishable from loving God. I discovered that years ago when listening to popular music on acid, that it was often possible to hear the music as spiritual and aimed at God. Ever since that time I have been able to have this kind of double vision. The best times of my life have been when I am in love with someone and equally able to know that I am loving God. That is why I know that for me God is equally Goddess.


I wake in empty
Space, in your scent left behind.
It's been years, but still
This happens to me.

December 29, 2008 9:22 AM

Sometimes it just takes faith. I am pretty good at faith when the chips are down, but I have been deeply trained to respect doubt too. It is inherent in the posture of those who enter science that they set faith aside as a disciplined practice. They intend that the world speak without interference by bias and hope. To that end they devise a series of tests and procedures. Then they submit to a process called peer review in which they demand and perhaps at best welcome critical remarks concerning the conditions and events that have led to certain findings. This can become vicious if people become too fixed and certain. Thus they reveal again and again that there is great usefulness in doubt and less usefulness in assumptions of certainty which may or may not also be true statements.

And yet sometimes, it just takes faith.

To Start This Trek

Terrible journey
From this place just to arrive
At your cottage door.
I need newer shoes
To start this trek through the wild
And a full pack strapped
Snug on my body
And I'll carry shelter too,
Which I will need twice.

I'll sing to spirits
I encounter on the way
That they let me pass.

All this in my heart,
Fear and hope and grit,
I don't know if you'll be home.

December 29, 2008 9:04 AM

This post has been reordered and revised. In its original form it appeared on Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It Is My Call

"The most successful people are those who are good at plan B." - James York

James W. York, Jr. (born July 3, 1939 in Raleigh, North Carolina) is an American mathematical physicist who is well known for his many important contributions to the theory of general relativity. In any physical theory, it is important to understand when solutions to the fundamental field equation exist, and answering this question has been the central theme of York's scientific work, culminating in the achievement, with Yvonne Choquet-Bruhat, of formulating the Einstein field equation as a well-posed system in the sense of the theory of partial differential equations.

York earned his B.Sc. in 1962 from North Carolina State University.

York is widely credited with being the first to recognize the importance of conformal geometry in the initial value problem, and with introducing concepts now called the York curvature and York time.

York is a recipient of the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics from the American Physical Society, where he is a Fellow.

I have to remark at this cool is that? Your peers allow you to place your name on a couple pieces of high math nobody else thought of before... Holy shit! I am proud to introduce him to you.

Another remark: somebody really knowledgeable wrote that thing for Wiki explaining what Professor Doctor York has done, and I wonder if it is York's own words.

Big Tent has offered a wordle and they are gentle about it. They say you only have to use a few words, or even leave something else. However, I love using all the words. Here is the wordle:
and here is the poem:

It Is My Call

I shall then rotate
and float in the darkening
night sky, a remote
caretaker's handle.

Like a sharpening function
and alert for heat,
I'll grind the blade down
to razor's edge, that special
twenty degree hone,
that angle, that keen
repose -

I am resistant
to all blandishments
from the head of state,
from his aging cabinet,
and, my love, from you.

‎February ‎3, ‎2011 4:49 AM

Don't blame me. I write strangely when I first get up. I think my baby's soft spot opens in the night, or maybe my knickers twist in a unique way while I stir and dream. Anyway I feel remote from my own words and a little bewildered. Should I say, bewitched? I am wondering if I am really like this down deep in my soul, like this is something I did, sort of, in a past life. I have written over a thousand poems in the last couple years. They just spill out, though I have slowed down to a few a week now instead of several a day. I gotta figure one of them is actually pretty good. I wonder if it is this one. But if it is I think my other brother in my head wrote it. I'm an innocent man, innocent, I tell you!

Now may I suggest that you pop over to Big Tent's Come One, Come All page and read some other good stuff. There is probably a great piece lurking over there somewhere. These guys are pretty good, many of them.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sideline Chatter

Three Word Wednesday says, use these words and get somewhere. I wound up in football somehow. I don't get it but there it is...

Abrasive; noun: Any material or substance used for grinding, polishing, etc., as emery, pumice, or sandpaper; adjective: Tending to abrade; causing abrasion; abrading or tending to annoy or cause ill will; overly aggressive.

Handful; noun, plural: the quantity or amount that the hand can hold; a small amount, number, or quantity; or informal, a person or thing that is as much as one can manage or control.

Loss; noun, many uses including detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have, or get; the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had; or the accidental or inadvertent losing of something dropped, misplaced, stolen, etc.

Sideline Chatter

I am all tore up
from the floor up. I'm chewed up
and screwed up. I've hit
the abrasive patch,
scraped the hide off the handful
of hope that held me
on the scrimmage line.
It's a sack, a ten yard loss.
What will I do now?
When it's fourth down, punt.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Standing On The Edge

"To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility." - Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum (born Martha Craven on May 6, 1947) is an American philosopher with a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy and ethics. Nussbaum, though not a lawyer, is currently Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, a chair that includes appointments in the Philosophy Department, the Law School, and the Divinity School. She also holds Associate appointments in Classics and Political Science, is a member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a Board Member of the Human Rights Program. She previously taught at Harvard and Brown where she held the rank of university professor.

"Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself believe." - Winston Churchill

"If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be too cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down." - Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, best known for her narrative prose in both fiction and non-fiction. She has published two novels, poetry, essays, prose, literary criticism, and a memoir.

The view from where we stood.

Standing On The Edge

I would find this place
somewhere in my heart's return,
somewhere near your gate
in the autumn light,
in the words we should have said,
in the prayers, songs
and music we could have played
had we known in time.

October 15, 2009 12:39 PM

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