Tag Archives: meditations

Larval

Shelving for now
my overarching fantasy of becoming
a mastermind of some esoteric
discipline to be held in secret
until it becomes necessary
for survival; mothballing

my own need
to be of some use and
turning instead to
pupation ahead of
a destined transformation 
that may or may not happen: after all
cocoons and pupae may still die;
even at that penultimate moment
of incipient lives, nothing
promised is ever certain. Stepping

back from the personal edge
in this moment of grand, worldwide edge
to consider the folly 
of my belief in my own indispensability
and to marvel at how final 
it all feels and yet,
even so, I long
to break out and get free

of those larval virtues and vices
of my past; hoping that instead
when I do emerge, all those old marbles
will tumble out of my once-child hands
and all these games will end and then
whatever I am in that real instant
will be adequate at the least, more 
than enough at the most, ready to be
valued, to extend time, to ground
a future where before there had been
only a flight, a vision
of improbably perfect wings.

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The Golem Song

This darkness
has pushed me to sing

because if I do not
it will drown me.

So I gurgling
sing the murk,

the murder,
thick burdens

laid upon
head and lungs.

I strangling sing
my fight to get above it

though I feel 
no hope

of light there and anticipate
no whisper beyond my own

to offer me
harmony. No, I am

Golem and I
don’t know who

raised me or why,
or how against all lore

and odds I am singing
when there seem

to be so few
to listen and by law

and story I should be
silent by now. I am

not, though. I am
not though it is dark

and these words
carry not even feeble light.

Still, I am  — and I flop about
and sing this glug of mud.

I must have been made
for some cause. Nothing

could be so cruel
as to have drawn me

thus forth
for nothing.


A Bouquet Of Lies

I wrote a bouquet of lies
and handed them out
at intersections.  People
seem to like them, so
I’m making more. 

People seem to like them.
I’m making more 
of that
than I should, 
perhaps. Perhaps I’m
made for this. Perhaps I’m
just a born liar.

A born liar, but perhaps
people like a born liar.
Better than a made one,
perhaps? Who gets made
into a liar, anyway?

Whoever gets made as a liar
ought to stop lying and
get away from what made them
lie. No one’s born to it; ask
any kid about anything. You’ll see.

You’ll see: if you ask a little kid
a question, they will tell the truth
with simple brutality.  We teach them
how to lie — first by polite silence,
then by lying to them all the time.

Then we lie there, all the time, 
knowing what we’ve done to our kids.
No wonder everyone seems to love
getting blooms from the bouquet of lies. 
It’s funereal out there. Here is something

to take the edge off. To make you feel
perhaps better, by knowing you aren’t alone
in the lying business. Here’s another
pretty one. I see you smiling as you 
take it from me. We know what’s at stake.


A Simple Plan

Engaged, enraged, and exhausted:
the first gets me out of bed;

the second keeps me upright and moving; 
the third lays me down

and also reminds me that
there will be an end to this someday.


The Garden

Here they are:
the fruits of 
our long and dirty labor

falling from their trees,
hitting the ground as rotten
as the heartwood that fed them.

When they break,
they will split, expose
their mush, stink.

It’s up to us
to rake them all up,
burn them, salt the ground

where they grew,
cut down sprouts,
end this. Of course

there can be no promise
that no missed seeds
will fall to the ground

to grow again
into a poisonous
stranglehold

on what we hold dear,
but we must put hope aside
as a luxury until

we’ve fulfilled the hope
that those who came before
put into us. This 

is our job.  These 
are our fruits, reeking
of us and our inattention

and lax oversight. Until
we atone and set our garden 
right, what right do we have to hope?


Our Burning City On The Hill

A thick blanket of chaos
falls upon the holy fires
consuming our city on the hill,
seeking a way to extinguish them;

we wake to mouthfuls of
robin feathers choking us
as we struggle in a bath of scalding air,
tortured by unbearable skin; we strip ourselves

of all objects metallic right down
to ancient fillings in our teeth;
we shift our church altars to the worship
of ice; we love each other from afar

in an effort to stay unmelted; watch
our unknown neighbors swell
with superheated air 
and rise,
sky lanterns celebrating 
immolation,

falling to earth in unknown places,
setting new fires 
in distant towns;
we can’t bother 
with those screaming beyond us;
we can’t bother to pick the stems

of those feathers from our mouths so
we swallow them as we do so much
else, knowing they will pierce us
like our bigotry from inside our deepest guts,

setting us to bleed boiling 
into our farthest crevices; a thick blanket
of chaos like a wool combed with spikes and 
the nails of dying children; in all this

the only hope left is that we drown soon
or suffocate in the steam of a rising ocean
that will bring the birds back in with it;
swooping over the last scraps of the old

conflagration, their feathers
coated in both mourning
and morning, exalting
as they grieve that our flesh

is no tender feast,
that we’re roasted to leather
as they swoop, seeking places
to nest in the wreckage

of our city on the hill.


If I Could Explain

If I could explain
why I listen to gospel services
on Sunday morning radio
though I am no Christian or even
much in sympathy with Christianity,
paying nearly the same attention 
to its content

as I do to a stray episode
of “Law And Order” on a barroom television,
though I am not at all a cop, neither
am I at all a lawyer, and am
slightly less criminal than many;

and slightly less attention
to either of those than I do 
to distant salsa tunes from two floors up,
though I am no dancer or singer
in Spanish or anything else,

then perhaps I could explain to you, 
and to myself as well, 
how I became a poet. 

Maybe I could explain why Jesus
and Lenny Briscoe and
Marc Anthony rotate through
my firmament on some 
indecipherable yet certain timing;

or I might be able to explain
why I feel like life barely grazes me
most of the time, 
though I feel all of it 
at least lightly;

I could even maybe explain 
how when I am nicked by living 
I bleed out everything 
I’ve ever felt
and call that art 
once I’ve run my fingers
through the flood
and tried to make patterns

in what lands and dries 
in front of me, although
it never does the job
quite well enough;

so I go back to cursory church and 
peripheral crime and loving music 
I can’t understand
just for the sake of listening

while waiting for the next barrage
to brush me, the next wound to open me, 
the next opportunity
to play in my red.


A Revolution Will Only Come

A revolution will only come

when our children can kneel
among trees and remain still
as they are pelted from above
with falling acorns, nuts, fruits,
and cones, chanting the beat
of the earth upon them.

It will come when
they can kneel on shore,
shivering, soaking
in the rush of surf, shouting
the ecstasy of the sea upon them.

It will come when they can kneel
before each other,
look into broken eyes
both like and unlike their own,
saying nothing, rising
to embrace their opposites
and weep in their arms.

It will come
when they can
disown us utterly. 

It will come
when we are unable to stop them
from stepping away from us
toward the greater good.

It will come
when they fail us more joyfully
than we have failed them.


Johnny Loves Tech

Johnny loves tech,
say all of his work friends. Knows a
shitload about it. They ask him
to fix stuff all the time.  Just a week ago
no one could print, Johnny
figured it out before the help desk
ever got here. They don’t even call the help desk
any more. They just ask Johnny.

Johnny says ah, it’s nothing.  He learned
a while ago that all there is to tech
is sitting with it and thinking, asking
a question or two, following up, being patient.
He learned that from his mother. She knew nothing
about such things but would
solve everything else that needed solving
by asking a few questions
and then sitting with the answers, and it always
worked for her, so…

Johnny still lives in the house he grew up in.
His mother’s long gone.  It’s still neat
and clean there, the way she kept it, would
have liked it.  He sits at night and never
touches a keyboard at home. Sits and
asks questions, sits with no answers,
sits and sits and falls asleep sitting up
in her old chair. 

Johnny loves tech, they say at work.
Johnny thinks that’s nothing, loving tech.
He sits at night and loves his mother
who didn’t love tech at the end, the beeping,
the steady pump of the machines, the knobs
on the consoles, the way it all looked so clean
and foreign to her body as she melted away.

That’s what Johnny says to himself
while he’s sitting and sitting and sitting:
it all worked perfectly and still, 
she melted away. 
Some tech
isn’t worth loving. Some tech never
answers a single question. Johnny 
sits there in front of an error message
on a screen and screams inside
about how easy some people
must think this is for him.


These Are Days

These are days
when before going out
you ascertain that
you have
all you may need
in your pockets.
 
Keys and
phone, ends
of threads you’ve tied
to others;
 
knife,
pepper gel,
tools you carry
to help you stay unentangled
with others.
 
You do not leave the house
without carrying
contradictions.
 
Those things are not
themselves
magical. They must
be in learned hands
to work
 
and you are learning
more each day
of what your hands
may have to do:
 
untying certain ends,
tightening others,
cutting others off,
spraying others down.
 
It’s a healthier
approach
no matter how
it sometimes feels
these days:
 
learning to trust in
and strengthen connection
while being suspicious
as needed and
ready for what may come.

Possessed By Golden Hearts

I have been 
possessed by golden
hearts and owned but

let free to roam and
I have been a mistake and
a good try.  Left alone

I may have been empty
and dirty, a bottle
in the gutter.  But thanks

to those, worthy of
all my praise and thanks,
who lifted me.  Even when

I was of no obvious value
to anyone I was picked up 
and held and now

I am the mistake that worked out
and am not wrong for existing.
Even when I seemed

most evil.  Even when
I stank of wrong, I was 
held as all should be held

as capable of redemption
and golden as any who held me.
Lift me, my saviors.  When I land

I will do you proud.
I will shine, light the dark,
be your hope incarnate.  I will 

offer you a place
to mount your pride
and let it stand.


The City

From ten miles out of town to here
I pass a half-dozen donut shops,
two smoke shops, one
liquor store. You get what
you pay for and clearly
there are those ready to pay for
some form of altered state
just to enter this town,
never mind to stay here,
to live here.  

As for me? My mind is clear.
I do not need a cloud 
of sugar or fat,
of smoke or drink,
to be here. 

I admit to stopping
at one or more of those
stores, but only now and then
is it anything more than
a small enhancement 
that I chase,

for here’s a view from my porch
of nothing but more porches,
a view from my back door
of nothing but more back doors.

There are times when I long to see
tree or stream with no one near them,
or hear surf, the smash of sea
on shore or rock — of course,
I’m human, there are moments
like that when I want to climb
back through the past to 
primacy.

But the view from here
is people and more people
and all the variety sings to me
and all the street sound is symphony
and I cannot want to blunt that
when so much worth knowing
is there within my reach.

Keep the donuts, the vapes
and pipes, the sips and nips
and bottles in need of draining.
Drunk and stoned
and stuffed on the city,
I am at peace.


Crumbs

Aren’t you tired
of living on crumbs?
Aren’t you tired
of fighting for crumbs?

Of waking up 
after three hours’ sleep
and lying awake 
until morning?
Of rising and aiming
your heart at a job
that takes all you’ve got
then returns a few scraps from
some folks at a table 
you won’t ever see
that hangs above you
like a solid cloud —

aren’t you tired
of waiting for crumbs?
Aren’t you tired of 
living on crumbs?

Of hearing three words of praise
for your being and doing
for every four hundred 
you hear in rebuke?
Of seeing the horizon
as some kind of carrot
to keep you running 
with the stick right behind?
Of becoming the person 
you dreaded you’d be
when you thought the horizon
was a sweet dance away?

Aren’t you tired 
of scratching for crumbs?
Aren’t you tired
of living on crumbs?

Here comes day
and then night
and then day
and then night
and every hour
falls into gray
till you can’t tell the difference
anymore

Here comes something
falling from the table
One atom of sleep or
one atom of comfort or
one atom of peace or
one atom of how to get by

And just as you catch it
It melts into memory
Then it grows in your memory
That’s how you survive
By turning those bits
into magnified moments
Turning those moments
into amplified stories
Fantasies of joy
you claim to believe
and try to believe
and want to believe — 

A whole culture feeds that
even while it bleeds you
Makes it hard to get past it
and realize that
it’s the dark of the day
and the dark of the night
at the same exact moment
and it is every moment…

you know you are starving
though you can’t admit it — 

and aren’t you tired
of living on crumbs?

Aren’t you tired?


Against The Angels

Your upbringing has you convinced
that when angels come at last to visit you,
they will be immense and will dominate
all your senses and being. It’s hype —

they’re tiny,
house pet scaled nuisances,
unnerving 
at their worst.

This morning
I woke to one perched
on the bedside table
and at first, I thought it was one of the cats.

Once I knew better, recognized it by its gray wings and
solemn demeanor, I said: how come, angel,
your resemble a cheap gargoyle from a garden shop? How come
you aren’t robed in storm, an elemental force?

I’m only mildly put out to see you here.
You picked the wrong bed to sit by. Get out.
Go scare a sick kid or comfort an old man, take
your burst of petulance at my lack of fear

and put it where it matters. Take
your European constraint, your
European deity feather-bound by committee,
and go. Go tell those that want me

to send tornado hearted eyeless giants, send 
thunderbird riders, send the deep green-red sky itself
to hover over me if they must; something
I can bow my head before and rise into 

with honor and agreement. Angel,
archangel, seraph: go. You’re not
worthy. I smell that book on you.
I read it once. I don’t care to read it again

and I’m not leaving till the earth itself
deems me ready to go and holds
all the continents and oceans up, 
like a robe, to wrap me in as I go.


Older And In Costume

Older and in costume
I parade up and down because I know
this will make a difference

in how I feel about
how I am seen from here on in.
It’s possible that no one

will see me anyway
no matter how I am 
dressed or arrayed

but as a slowly vanishing
man, I must take
all the chance I can to be 

visible. Even if no one
notices, I notice. Even
if I am ridiculous,

I shall vibrate inside
knowing I chose such
silliness. Even if I 

were to in fact 
disappear from here
leaving the costume 

empty in the aisle
before all present,
I will go knowing

I took this chance to
feel alive, saturated
with nonsense, joyful

as a true clown,
unafraid, saying to all:
This.  I am this

as much as I am anything
else you know of me and
it’s as much a part of me

as what you’ve always 
known, even if you have not
seen it till now. I am this

and that too. While I do not 
and have never contained
multitudes, I was more

than you knew and even
more than I knew. Older and in 
costume, I can see that now.