Tag Archives: meditations

The Public

They are realizing at last, if only dimly,
what they’ve bought and what’s been
sold out from under them.

Sitting there slack, slumped against hubris, mouths
opening and closing, sounds coming out:
no sense to be had there. You would think

they’d get up and move, either 
trying to escape or beating a path
toward something better to come after

such an awful time; but not now, or not 
yet at least, in spite of the scent of urgency
in the air. Instead they hold harder to 

the prejudices and suspicions 
they’ve always been chained to, 
as if such things could save them

in a storm that’s only now begun 
to rise to full scream. They sit there
and scream along, they do not move;

as they are engulfed, they seek
a scapegoat and avert their eyes
from what they’ve bought, from

what’s been sold
from under them
with their clueless, ecstatic consent.


My Left Hand Soaked In Oil

My left hand 
soaked in oil:

those are the first words
I heard this morning,
if you can call 
how they came to me
“hearing.”

It’s not
a true descriptor, but
as close as I can get 
to how the words come
so I call that hearing 
and hearing it is,

much as my left hand
feels dry with no apparent
oil upon it yet I trust
what I’ve heard about this,
I don’t argue when I hear
words this way: clearly,

my left hand’s soaked
in oil.  Up to me

to figure out if perhaps
it is magic oil
I can’t see or feel
that shines in darkness,  
or maybe a social oil that
gets on me from others
and later ignites
when I try to reach out,
or in some way a deep soul oil
that seeps out of me and
covers me wrist to fingertips
and it’s only on my left hand
to reveal to me once again
what I forget and forget:
how hard it is to hold fast
to what is closest to my heart.

My left hand soaked in oil,
shining at dawn. Perhaps
all it means is that oil

is a decoration, a highlight
reminding me to celebrate
my weakest parts, even as
I write this all down 
with my right hand.

If you are a bear for truth
and have read this far, tell me 
what you think it means 

for it seems that all I know
has become slippery,
falling again and again
out of my grasp

no matter how many times
and how tenderly
I listen to the words
I hear upon waking,

no matter how faithful I am
to the words.


Three Ways Of Looking At It

1.
In these sullen days
a half smile has become
a badge of subversion.
In these enraged times
any peaceful face has become
enraging.

In the white fingered
company of the ones
who dance confidently,
well-gloved
and bespoke-booted,
at their self-congratulatory
banquets, to be barefoot
and casual 
invites punishment
and raises alarm.
Being at odds kills you
here.

Taking a side 
kills you too but
you’ll have company 
when you die,

while those
left out of all sides might die but
might be left standing as
either proof of or contradiction
of dialectic,
but they will be
as alone afterward
as they were 
beforehand. 

2.
Today I am
in a process of dying
no matter how
you look at me:
dressed down,
worn down, well over
halfway along, staring at
this side of the long hill
I’ve crested,
looking down,
picking up speed.

3.
Ah well, I tell myself
as I start to roll,
I prefer not dancing.
I prefer not wearing
such damned clothing.
Soon I’ll feel such a wind on
my poverty skin, in my
blood-sugared hair, that
I might forget that I never
figured out
who I was or where
I belonged. 


Warm Salt Water

Spent this life sipping
warm salt water
in drops, only

warm salt water
and only in drips and
drops,

yet am expected
to taste sweetness
easily and reject

the only taste 
I’ve ever known
at once, with no thought

as to how all those
dribs and drabs of salt
may have burned

my ability to taste
anything else.  You do 
not understand how

oceanic it is in here,
how such trickling
pleasantry and joy

disappear into
that sea with no 
trace; meanwhile

warm salt comes
relentlessly, in bits and
blips, filling, spilling.

Spend a life sipping
those and see
what happens when

another flavor offers itself
to your tongue. See how
it feels to understand that

what you are meant to love
cannot touch you now.
See how you cry then:

it won’t even
feel like a loss as you
sip the drops,

as you shrug off
the suggestion
that there could be 

anything else for you
but the sip and the 
slipping away.


Tony Stops

Tony stops, just like that.

He sits for two hours
and forty five minutes
without moving.
His knife twitching like
a muse in his pocket. 
But he doesn’t reach,
he doesn’t

acknowledge.

He wishes he had a tail to show.
He’d show an angry snap of that thing
but

he’s stopped now, 

his winding’s run out.

If he’d been born animal
things could have been so different
but humans being what they are
it’s remarkable that Tony

can be so still when he’s always been
such a loud little twitch of a man

and so dumb, dumb
to how he was supposed to come
correct, dumb to how
he was meant for success

and nothing like this 
was ever supposed to happen

but don’t weep
whatever you do.

That shit’s contagious.
Tell folks he just stopped.
Tell them,
Tony stops like that from time to time.

Tony says so, it must be true.


Without A Blade To Raise

Asking yourself
who you are

when you wake up, 
any time you wake up,
every time you wake up,
gets old. It’s a habit
you want to break for good

so you take any hammer you can
to that habit. You take
a drink hammer, a smoke hammer,
a book hammer, a lot of book hammers
in fact. Maybe there’s a church hammer
that will work. Maybe someone comes by
and hands you a sword and it feels

better than a hammer. You swing it
at the habit of asking yourself
who you are

and marvel at how
its poor crystal bits shimmer
as they fly 
cuttingly
across all your horizons. 

It’s a good sword.

You hang your questions
about who you are 
on the same peg
you hang the sword on
while you sleep.

Once in a while you wake up
and ask yourself who you are
but it’s not a habit any more;
more like groping for a weapon
in the dark when you are startled
by a noise and wonder
if you are under attack.

At some point you may wake up
and ask yourself who you are
and reach for the weapon
while thinking about how
you never got an answer
in all those years of asking

and instead leave the bed
without your sword
to see if in fact
someone has broken in.

Starved frame of a figure
cornered by the stove,
away from windows and doors.
Thin rags covering all, it seems,
as far as you can tell in this light.
No face you recognize;
no face of any kind showing, 
in fact,
as it begins to move
toward you,

you standing there
without
a thing to throw,
a blade to raise.


Downtown Cookie

Cookie, one look at you tells us
you are fashion, you are
drugs, you are the art side
of a new canvas. It is not clear

if you are for sale or have been sold;
maybe you are self-possessed and 
not available except as display but
we all want as much of you

as we can get. That is how
downtown cookie crumbles:
do it for themselves, do it out of need
or for need-cobbled reasons; then

one of us grabs that unique skin, 
puts it on, wears it to cafe, cabaret, 
club, company store, the better end
of the street map, and that’s that.

Cookie, downtown cookie, we are know
you get left behind but you’ve done it before:
reinvent, come back as new fashion,
new drugs, 
newly living art.  Come back 

and see us sometime — or better yet,
we’ll come back downtown when it’s safer,
when we need an appropriately downtown skin
to perk us up; when downtown’s less you, and more us.


Pink Tinge

Flies covered the driveway, 
my car, the walls of the house.

A puddle on the ground 
in front of the car, and that was all:

no sign of anything else beyond
the 
buzzing and my instinct to pull away.

I waded into that cloud
and took the hose and washed

pavement, car, and house.
Noted a pink tinge to the water

as it ran down into the concrete apron
next to the foundation, and the flies 

rose and dispersed. What happened here?
Do I need to know, or is their departure

and the fact that they did not return
enough to allow me the comfort

of turning my back on the once-wet asphalt
and forgetting yet another small red mystery

that comes with living
in this small red city?


Quantum Superpositions

Whatever the fuck
I am, 
I’m not Italian
pretty much ever
except when I am;
whatever. 
Whatever 
the fuck
it is that I am,

it is not White
except when it is,
when I am, whatever.
Whatever the fuck
I am, it is not Mescalero
pretty much ever
except when I am,
when it is, whatever.
Whatever I am, 
I’m not Indian, not Native,
not Indigenous — I am

whatever is in the box before
you look or name me —

(BTW,
did you know
Schroedinger’s experiment 
was designed to show how 
ridiculous the concept of
existing simultaneously
in multiple states was?)

whatever,
I exist
according to this world
only in collapse
of my totality. And 

when it collapses
whatever is left is what
I’m supposed to 
live: 

the role
of the fucking whatever.

No lines,
no blocking,
no motivation —

just an act, a 
character until 

it’s time, and then
back in the box

to sit
in quantum superposition
until my crushed being
can again
be fucking peeped
by whoever for 
whatever.


Bellwether

There: a being visible
in the edge of the forest,

barely solid in the dusk;
silver mist, cloak with no face within.

Unwilling to find it supernatural
until other options are exhausted,

you call to it using names
of living people it might be,

ending with “Hello? Hello?
when there is no response

and there is still no response
with those greetings. Day dims

and that being, now firm
and opaque, moves into clear sight

in the backyard.  You still can’t be certain
of what it is, but it seems honest

and ominous, not trying to hide
as it moves toward you. 

You’ve heard of such things 
lurking in other lands, poorer lands;

bellwethers, harbingers, 
avatars. Perhaps divinity,

perhaps depravity, perhaps
something not defined well

by your limited experience. It seems
all news in recent days suggests

such beings have been among us
at all times, are more numerous 

than ever now.  You stare at it
approaching across land

you thought was safe,
thought was your own.

It’s stopped now, stands
in your sightline. Takes

the measure of your regard.
Waits for you to name it, then

to move toward it or flee;
waits to name you as well,

since it sees you as a silver mist,
a cloak with no face within.

None of us have names now
or faces. All of us clouds of fear

looming in each other’s woods
on the outskirts of safety.


How We Keep Time At This Age

There are moments common to all of us
when we wake from sleep and do not know
the time or even the day, moments 
when we decide not to find out right away.

I know that just as I do, you lie there disconnected
and think of all your firsts:  first pet, crush, love, cigarette, 
drink, blood, kiss, sex, death. All your recents:
current pet, crush, love, cigarette, drink, blood, kiss, sex. 

You consider death separately, right before 
the moment (common to all) when you choose
to look at the clock and remind yourself
what day of what week we are in. You consider

death separately as it means something different now
to contemplate the idea of the most recent death
in your world. You have to count on your fingers
and then get to know the calendar again, asking

if it was Todd or Joan or Aiden or Mike that was
the most recent. This is how we keep time now, how we
pull ourselves out of the blur. We fumble for glasses and phone,
asking: are we still here, still in recorded time?


Underneath This Fire

This is how
I hope it will be
from here:

underneath this fire,
as required,
ash that when

I cool down
you may take
and scatter.

It is not cremation,
not accidental, not
visible flame I speak of

but a steady life of immolation
only seen upon
its dying away and 

revelation of what
is left behind. I will not
glow as I burn, there will be

no smoke. Life
will continue as normal
and when it is over

there will be ash to whiten
bare ground that will
turn green next year

with savory herbs and
when you feed you will
remember me. 


Channel G

What a true
religious experience
it would be 
were we to learn that
some known star,
some common
twinkle, some blip
whose true influence
has long been hidden from us behind
astrologers’ misunderstanding
for millennia,

was in fact what we call God
and has been sentient 
and laughing out there
in space, thinking of
what it has done
for us and to us,
and all the time we thought
it was all because
of Sirius or Betelgeuse
or some epic cluster
we’d configured
into an image of grand myth
or metaphor when in fact
it was a small yellow sun 
not terribly far away 
that had taken on the role
of our celestial deus ex machina
without us even knowing 

and done it all for fun, on whims
and fancies, just to watch
what was happening here
for entertainment; imagine us learning
that it has invited other stars
to watch as well, that we are considered
interstellar appointment watching,
longest running show in this sector,

although it must be said that
the plots are getting
a little stale and whispers
are growing about
what, if anything, can be done
to erase the slide.

 


Superheroes

Seems sometimes
I am surrounded by
armies of superhero
fans poring through
canon and alternate
canon and non-canon
for secrets
and larger truth

and here am I
impervious, because

so often in my youth
my heroes were
your villains and
your heroes’ canons
sketched and cut my heroes
into fodder
and nothing more

To resist such obsessions now
seems to be

my lonely path

to sanity


Mon Dieu, J’Accuse

Did you mean
to drop

your entire meaning
for us before us

in our
quiet moments

as if they were held
in a holy sphinx

carved
from hard sugar

into such clear water
that we could not help

seeing it dissolve
so swiftly

that we ended up
with a permanent ghost

unsettled
in our memory

as if we’d seen 
your face in that pale shadow

of deity and from that
understood

how all things 
work in tandem

and now we 
have forgotten

all but the fact 
that we once knew

and sit bitter in
the aftermath

of that lost, melted
truth

because if you did it
knowing how we

would fail
and despair

it becomes hard for me
at least

to credit any effort
toward art or

relationship or
society at all if it you

are to be
part of it