About Your Happiness

Here’s the problem, my friend. 

You’ve told me everything about what you’ve been up to and the sum total of it seems to be that you… are not happy. 

Now I know you can point to many good things in your life, blessings, gifts, scars well-earned. 

You tell me how much you love the crowds, and the restaurants, and the oncoming buzz. 

But near the end of the evening, when all the slacks and jackets and party dresses have been tossed in the laundry or rehung, you are not filled with the joy that twirls at the center of the world. 

You don’t wake up enamored of life, and the morning, and the process of living a day. 

You tell me with the suffix of, “I bought a new piece of plastic (or metal, or cloth). One I have been looking for. One that I know will bring me my happiness. I’ve booked a trip to a far off destination. Signed up for classes. Found a new city and am planning to move.” 

Your life is so very frenetic. 

As if jumping from one lustful passion to another will somehow fill it. But the bucket has no bottom. You’re lighting the gas of your longing with what matches. Yet you seem devout in your sadness. It’s pervasive. 

And there’s nothing anyone can do. Do you think about this? This. Right here. Spent some hours listening to the sounds that wander through the rooms of your dwelling, the edifice of your imagination, the cavernous, high ceilinged room of your heart. 

We’ve known each for a long time and so I can share with you a secret. I can see into your heart. Not just yours, everyone’s. When I meet someone it takes about a minute. Their bodies dissolve and I see instead the inner layer of their skin, the one that has been with them since youth. 

Yours glows. 

It swims between pink and yellow. It has these lovely eddies that curl around your belly when you eat and around your head, like a halo, when you remember lovely things. 

But so often you tamp it down, get filled with this grey malice that starts at the surface and pushes, like weight, against these savory colors to your feet, where they pool and quiver. 

I think, (and what do I know?), if you just let sat still. Here. Right here. 

And listened. And looked. And took in this scene, with no care in the world or plan for anything, you could feel them start to move, to rise up to your knees, overtake your belly, swim in a circle around the flute of your throat. 

They’ll fill your eyes. They’ll color how you see the world. They are here, just below your skin, so thin. Your beauty bursting out which requires no paint and no coat. No sales receipt or title. 

It’s you. I see. Swirling out wildly.

Catholic Twist

In the backseat of my father’s chariot–
the Cadillac he toiled to own,

the one he lied an oath through his teeth
(to the Marines, to a wife, or two, or three) to keep,

the coal-black fenders, tailfins he latched to whiteness,
steel smelted from each iota of his Italian heritage,

halo, cross, and cloth thrown off for the catchiness
of a name that stood like the hood ornament;

a shield between knotted wings– coiled a cowlicked boy
taught to loathe friends on the other end of Church Avenue

who prayed to a God of talc and smoke, to a Pope
who grandma, had she known (or been told

we existed) would have sworn 
was God’s love on earth.

Hear

Here I am, up again, my friend, up
at some ungodly hour meant more
for dreaming they laying out schemes
of attack on a day for which I will
now be more poorly rested
and therefore less effective.

Here I am, pondering again
without the use of hallucinogens
how one might make time travel
or move space and stay in a place
impossible, the top corner of a room
watching a scene in our history unfolding.

A thousand times, again, hoping in this past
to find the ripple or fold that allows us
to explore what would have been
had you’d been less… or I’d been more…
perched atop the door to kick it closed
hold the knob shut as you twisted it and left.

Here nightly, brightly hunched and painting
in watercolors no one gets to see,
tongue out my left lips, a boy
still spreading stained rainbow
fingers into circles wrapped up
into imaginary rings of gold.

I should sleep. I should let go of
what simply will not be. The past,
a future, another version of the separate
life (lives) we lead. Somewhere
you’re awake, I dream, and listening.
Somehow this love, our love

radiates out from brain-meat to brain-meet,
this busy signal un-hung-up and sung
into ears by crickets in connected meadows
out the back doors and off the porch where
you are whispering and I am whispering.
I am.……………………………………….Hear.

Why We Lock The Shed

He lies
on the couch
by the window,
supine (blinds
spun shut)
in the pre-sunrise.

What ripens
(and rottens) inside
ensues in chaos,
sharp like pine needles,
ever green (giving up little),
as in the scents of candles.

His penis is a prune,
heart in resin, a knot tied
in his spine. What sense
in ripping off that false S?
In loosening the reins
of the well-taught sniper?

Because It’s full
of power-tools
we won’t use,
charged battery
packs, drills,
buttons to press.

He meditates
on the nursery,
on the scent of urine,
on the shade of paint
awakening with the sun
ripping at the horizon.

A Yellow Sun Rises Over A Yellow House

A yellow sun rises over a yellow house.
A tree impedes the pristine scene growing
from angled eaves. A pair of birds flitter
translucent across the rooftop in the beams.

The reflection of cars warped in a window.
A roof tile loose and peeling. What could be
dust or the body of a moth tugged by gravity.

All of it pixelated through my
window screen. Dirt and uneven shades
and peeling paint around the sill. Squares
bent down into a u or a v. I can’t recall

what I thought
when I knew love
was easy.

Love Light Air Life

For weeks I’ve been wrestling in my head, with the nature of consciousness, and I want you to understand where I’ve come to. If I started talking out loud I wouldn’t be able to explain it, so I am hoping writing it down can flesh out some of it, and give you a peek into what I believe now about who we are and how we came to be.

I think we humans invent things that are metaphors for a reality we are trying to uncover. The wheel a metaphor for the earth before we knew its shape. The book a metaphor for the mind before we understood its storage. Intuited inventions that point the path towards science we have not yet learned. The greatest invention of the 20th century being the automobile, a metaphor for the human body. Stronger and faster than anything available at the start of the century, better than any horse or burro of biology. But, in constant need of fuel from the earth, temporary, unhealing, always rusting and failing. In constant need of repair, always being reclaimed back to the earth.

At the end of the century though, the great invention, and what I believe to be our next great metaphor became the computer. We talk about this computer metaphor with students. Hardware like the human body. Software like the human brain. Steve Jobs described the computer as, “The most remarkable tool we have ever come up with.” But at the end of the century, we created a third part to this platform, the cloud. We know that the computer has the same problems the car had. It is temporary, things break and fail and are lost. So we have these networked backup systems, where, ideally, those things we want to be permanent can be stored. And we struggle now not with their temporariness, but with their permanence. So what part of us is that permanence?

What if what is permanent, what is aware, what is creative, what is conscious, what is more permanant is not the animal, not the body, but the cloud, the air? I first heard this from KRS-One and thought it was a cool idea, but I didn’t consider the science behind it. This is not the eternal soul (or is it?), but perhaps a feat of physics and electricity. What if, way back in the days of pre-life primordial soup, the binding action that pulled together some inanimate objects and built the first proteins was a bolt of lightning? Mary Shelley intuited this with how one would bring life to Frankenstein. Star Trek intuited this on many episodes, this idea of conscious creatures in the clouds who sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t need to inhabit a body. What if that which is permanent (as permanent as the air) is in the air? Air which has no plural (oneness), and which is one cloud above us all (heaven).

This gives us a third part of life. There is the physical body, the mental brain, and then consciousness, that which is creative, imaginative, and aware. In this idea, the brain is a prism. Light (awareness) goes in one side as one cohent, invisible thing and comes out the other side separated out into something that looks very different. The human body is there to keep the human brain alive. The human brain is there to focus electricity and to give body, breath and language to awareness, to consciousness. The brain is a lens, a series of optics.

What about other animals? They are obviously alive, but are they aware? To some extent yes. But, what the human mind has on them is that it is a better lens, a better set of optics, more megapixels (again, the metaphor of inventions). If you are an awareness, born from the physics of electricity, pure light/air in a cloud and choose to pass through the prism of life to develop (like an old photo) into something, you are going to choose the best optics you can afford. And maybe that has always been, that consciousness chooses the best optics. Maybe, at some point, the amoeba held that consciousness, the hawk held consciousness, the dinosaur, and for now, the human. Thus King Arthur’s legends about Merlin making him a bird. Thus Q’s comment on Star Trek that “I traveled the road many times, sat on the porch, played the games, been the dog, everything! I was even the scarecrow for a while.”

I was running the other day, looking up into the air, into the clouds, thinking about this. Am I electrified air breathed into flesh, wailing the first time my lungs were inflated? Are you? And if so, why? What are our impulses in this flesh? One is invention. One is flight. One is space travel. Would aware entities want to travel away from their place of birth? Yes. If I could invent a way for my consciousness “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” Yes. And maybe for a long time simply jumping from evolving brain (lens) to evolving brain was progress, until we got to these tool builders. These who are somehow different than other creatures. Now we may not need to wait another million years for the next jump in evolution. If we can keep building better tools, and do so without destroying the car (species) we are in, perhaps we can find a shortcut. Space travel being one driving force. But maybe another.

If consciousness moves from most evolved to most evolved, to the best optics, perhaps inside this species of tool builders, we could build a better container than this temporary body with it’s current mexapixeled lens. Perhaps our next great invention will be Frankenstein, Commander Data, or Q. Some focuser of consciousness that is exceptionally better than what natural selection can naturally select. And maybe we can build it over a thousand years, rather than it growing organically over millions. And these bodies can go back to being primates. And we consciousness can continue on.

Heaven is up, and when we die, our last breath out, that which is permanent goes back into the oneness, into the air, which really is a life in the clouds. Hell is down, a fiery pit in the ground where the meat of all of our beings is headed, an eternity of damnation. And here we are in between, meat animated. A prism. The cover of dark side of the moon album. The ephemeral focused through flesh. A body, an evolved brain, consciousness. Hardware, software, cloud. Inventors, tool builders, imaginations. Limited by biology, which Buddhism says could never, on its own, produce awareness. Limited by our senses and our perceptions to seeing only certain bands of light and radiation, a poor, but best ever camera. Frail, temporary, failing. But with imagination, intuition, creativity. Those things that have allowed us to make our thoughts into words, our words sticky and semi-permanent, to increase that level of stickiness, and to imagine, in the stories we tell each other (write down, type, zip around the world, make permanent on the web), greater and further horizons. We drive toward invention, so we can go beyond the atmosphere that holds us, the bodies that limit us, one and separate. Breathing. In all meditation, focus on your breathing. Why? What if it is to know who we are?

Desert

Nothing endures.
Even bone sculptures become howling
and dust. Oceans hold eons-old pirate gold

but no one mines the treasures of arid seas
until the rains come. Till husks from holds
break open, flint and swords, blood and flesh,

rusty plugs and oar-locks. Until bundles of hooks
on snapped lines reach for soil and light.
Coyotes cowered while gopher preachers

bucketed out flooded pulpits. All we needed
was salt-smell and hope, a molecule or two
of what binds sand and light.

……………………………….We missed
one thing, just, from becoming a prairie
………………………………………………..full of life.

L’amour

It’s as if, swimming upstream, I carried with me
not just his bushy eyebrows and yellow toenails,
but a belt and pair of crooked spectacles, cock-

eyed view of the world. Raised too sophisticated
to give voice to his dogs and hoses, the martinis
and subtle winks he aped from Bogart movies.

His urge to hop a plane and escape, fantasy
without responsibility, family, to create anew
in stories, unburdened by more than pulp

L’amour. My conception molten like metal
cooling into an impression. No matter what
my edge reflects, the bank’s a bowl of stones.

On Want

I have tried to write this essay several times. I have failed using flowery language, academic speak, spiritual overtones, and psycho-babble. But it never came out the way I wanted. And that is the point of it. Want.

Want is a disease, a psychosis. It is an error of the mind and of the body. It is the flaw in how many of us live. We obsess over what we want for years. We make great art based on our want. It is the barrier to enjoyment and happiness. And not just in big ways.

It is easy to still pine for the person you wanted to kiss when you were sixteen. That small wish may hover inside your mind like a micro-tumor, but it is probably benign. What hurts us more is the want of the moment.

You are sitting in a long line of cars wanting a light to turn green. It turns and only one car gets through. And you want it to be different. The person you share your life with cannot read your mind, cannot do, seemingly, anything right, and you want them to be different.

Want distances you from this moment. It allows you to hide inside another, imaginary, more ideal reality. It suggests you should hold this life up against that ideal one and compare the two, a pageant which this moment will always lose. I want to be taller, want shorter, want skinnier, want stronger.

But let’s separate want from action. There is a moment not yet lived that you can choose into. The future must be shaped, and we can use it to reach towards an ideal. We can work for change. But that is not want, that is taking action.

I am lying in bed, in the middle of the night. I wake with my mouth open and bone-dry. I can ease myself out of bed, walk to the sink and have a glass of water. In the morning I can purchase a humidifier. Next month I can move to a coast or a rainforest.

Or I can sit here in want, hating this arid moment, imagining my imaginary ease. The distance in time between a felt need and the action to answer that need is want. And it is killing us. Every moment in want is a moment wasted, a moment of this life, right here, now, gone.

Each moment is far bigger than you can inhabit, larger than you can imagine. If you envision now throughout the whole globe, and know you could live on almost any inch of that, you start to see now. If you imagine how tiny the earth is to the universe, you start to sense the size of now.

Each moment offers you something to hate, something to love, something to act on, something to want. Worse than loving or hating, wanting means you do not inhabit this moment. It steals here and now from you. It makes our conscious life fly by us, miniscule and quick.

I want to exercise more, compared to exercising. I want to forgive someone, compared to actively forgiving. I want to write is worse than awful writing. I want to focus on my family. I want to eat better. I want to let go. I want to feel love. I want to live, before I want to die.

In little ways and big we are handing over this, here, now, to our imagination. Not for the sake of a deeper contemplative life, but simply to fill a compost heap with moments, one that rots as soon as it hits the here-air. We are wasting our lives in wanting, trashing this opportunity at being.

Three Christmases

In the story of the Christ child, today is not the day to think about what happens at the end of the book, but at the beginning. A child is born surrounded by love and prophecy and mysticism. Look around you today and seek that which appears to be the tiniest, the most weak, the most frail, the most powerless. There is glory and grace there, and potential.

In the story of the Christmas star, a light is laid out which points to greatness and divinity. Set your goals today, find that tiny prick of unreachable light and head towards it, across desert and mountain, across time and space. The light left that place thousands of years ago and finds you now, walk towards it (no, actually, run).

In the story of the Christmas tree, the life in nature is brought inside and decorated. Go now and find that life. Get outside today, away from plastic and wrapping, away from bells and whistles. Go out and commune with that which is alive, even in the darkest part of the year. Look out your windows, visit your neighbors. There are trees somewhere nearby. They love and miss you. Decorate them with your love.

Merry Christmas. I love you.

Thom

A Bird In Hand

Memory littered with lust from our twenties
when the right beverage could spark
a conversation, neck rub
to relieve tension,

an understanding of struggle. Then,
beyond our ego and separation, we knew
someone was waiting
at a table, sent there

by forces greater, having an innocuous latte,
shaking sugar packets, fidgeting with a zipper,
hoping to be known, to get laid,
for life to change.

Dig

Play me backwards to capture
the slurs unspoken by non-voices
who scream insults and prevent me
from seeing and seeing me.

Dust and scratches on the surface
of the mirror I use to get ready
to keep the compliments coming
from strangers I can not incorporate.

Buy therapy. Buy a different outfit
to fit in. Lament my car and color
of my housing. Buy certain foods,
buy into pop-ideas. Cry: bye-bye.

Play me seriously and play quietly.
Listen to the voice that’s spoken for
a foot down and a mile deep
the soft earth of me in which to dig.

Down By The Riverside

As the adolescent creek reached a plateau,
we were thrown together, where we played
like children, assuming the old spiritual
theatre of sex and unemployment, we

had invented. Notes we grew up hearing
in our separate minds, come together
in this tin can band, thawed from ice,
tumbling over falls, picked and strummed

along each smoothed stone. We tripped,
fell and broke, cracked off-key till the land
or factory or fire bid us rise. Then we sang
our giddy, addled, laughing good-byes.

No Turning Back

Some stand sure-footed on the hard dry edge, bank
on its uneroded topsoil as a platform from which
they can dip a toe, safely dangle a leg, place

one foot, then two up to the ankles, stand
in the fast running rapids of reality, icy
stream whipping round their feet.

Some ease in to their necks, hope
the rush of danger cracks their heads
or heart, that shock deafens them to our

landlocked existence. Why not dive deep?
Breathe back our gills. Test the white lie of oxygen
that claims we’re just red lungs, veins and capillaries.

Broken Hearted Savior

You go through life screaming,
gladhanding
and politicing,
piling on

lingo to gather votes on the promise
some topic
with your tonic
gets a hearing.

I opt out of that logic, coiling, instead
like a snake, or
a glass of pinot,
insistent like a hangnail.

You ride first class for the optics.
I’m the GPS
and the horizon,
cockpit instruments.

You hang, fretfully unaware, in mid-air
dangling, clinging
to nothing. I know
where we’re landing.

Somewhere, My Love

Somewhere, my love

I could love you like it’s 1953
again, or at least like the ’53
I imagine, a colorized version

of Black and White America
where I’m a diligent worker
in the middle-management

of a family-owned factory, fretting
about helping our neighbors
without enough money.

I could love you with a kiss
at the door and a compliment
on the smell of your roast,

and try to think very little
about meaningful things;
the Constitution, war,

or sociology. I could love you
before TV, once a week, on
my birthday. And putter through

that existence. But I’d rather
struggle through business,
bills, roles, religions, equality.

Fish

It’s faster than a heartbeat
when you look at me,
faster than a blink,

than my fingers
pounding out a text
as I drift down retail streets.

We should have this out
in the same city. You should be
howling. Me claiming innocence,

you overreacting. Instead
the snow’s piling up,
each flake attacking. Capitals

can’t relay my anger.
Exclamations. The river
is frozen. I want

my nights back. I want
your days. And your finger.
And your head. We should

be falling, accumulating,
dangerously slipping.

Not melting.

New Rose

Love intensity
I once thought
A measure of sexy

That I am you
And you me
Before our first date

That I know your soul
I claim
Before your name

Love intensity
How you tip me
Drinking coffee

If we never speak
Matters nothing
Married anyway

In our soul-scape
Steamed windshield
On clean sheets

Love intensity
Measure of nothing

You, you only
We never date

I miss your soul
Forget your name

Love intensity
Empty coffee

You spoken for
Happily married

Our soul escapes
And clean sheets

No.3

In a house of five, allegiances are born
and die as quickly as the evening meal
is thawed and cooked and eaten. Toys
lie black and blue about the floor, love
is being offered, on loan, and ignored.

In a house of five, someone lays in wait
for a party or a date, for a secret kept
to be leaked, and for the next shushing,
for vengeance to be the call of the day,
for diagrams to be drawn to call the play.

In a house of five, the stairs are byways
of clicking sneers, of breath through teeth
and “Don’t. Touch. Me.” There’s not room
enough for space to think, for time-out
with a good book, or a moment’s peace.

Four offers a chance for balance, three
a tight alliance, two, a buddy-cop movie.
At six we could field and coach a team.
We grew up in a palace, in a maelstrom,
in an inner ring of the defense department.

What we trained for remains sealed.
What we learned later confirms rumors.
Fifty years after the last of us have died
the files will be unclassifed, the dust
and scores and cracked walls all settled.

When I Paint My Masterpiece

The brush does not move, nor the canvas,
nor the wrist of the artist

but the sea rippling along the shore of Italy
where my great-great Grandmother stands, ankle deep

waiting for the pescatori
to return home to shore

dinghies bobbing along the horizon,
her husband, her sons

weighted down with work, made dark by the globe
diving behind the island.

She squints, and a lens snaps the landscape
long before Kodak,

developing itself through the palm on her belly,
which moves, and kicks, and swells

dashing ruddy hues cross the generations’
canvas sails.

Float On

Can anyone tell which door we used to get into this room, cause
I can’t seem to recall and the walls appear polished seamlessly
to a high sheen, the floor and ceiling incomprehensibly far away?

I can’t imagine we fell from a great height and survived, nor
that we jumped on our own into this ballroom. The question
may seem esoteric, but I’d like to find the exit, in case

I need to head outside for a smoke or if I’m done, simply,
with this party. I’m not being antisocial, the food here is more
than passable, company of the highest order, the guest speakers

fascinating. It’s just I might like to sit quietly without all this laughing,
all these false approvals of achievement, filth diminishing
as the machines keep shrinking, smiles spread across faces

while the bombs keep falling.

Giorgio by Moroder

Mom said “Today,
we bake a cake.”

I was eight, and a boy,
and my toys

were plastic cast
into weapons

teaching me to hate,
and cars teaching

me to escape. She
showed me spoons,

and cups, and eggs,
round bottomed things.

Taught me to measure,
and the pleasure it takes

to create.
The batter thickened.

Oil so it would not stick.
I licked the bowl.

The whole thing
took half the day.

The toys are filling
land in a trash heap.

The cake
is a lemon memory.

Mom? We don’t talk
much. Maybe

I’ve mixed
the whole thing up.

Sons who move
away. Old women

alive yesterday.
She never wore

an apron. I’ve never
let a lover in. I sit still

quietly in the morning
planning destruction

in my imagination,
in realities where I’m

the maker of destiny,
before I must follow

instructions, spend
all day filling out forms

with the heat inside
me rising slowly,

so I can bake
the world like batter,

rather than fire
like an engine,

like a high
powered machine,

or like a furnace
hardening clay.

Rockin’ Gypsies

To impress no one, we run
to the store for an onion, for salt
from the sea, for Kleenex
in a box of paisley.

We unlocked door to butt-
in on a simple question, how
one and a half
baths become a studio?

To impress no one, we set
the table with a vase
of carnations, telling no one
what a trying day; trying.

We reach for the door, check
the lock and the peep
before killing the light
in hopes we can sleep.

To impress no one, we wake
the neighbors with our banging,
hanging black and white
photos of fruit.

At our office door we greet
each person with a smile, neat,
and an anecdote from the weekend
“… spent it with friends.”

To impress no one, we end
our stories with a flourish,
garnish their slow-cooked ingredients,
and scour the china, thoroughly, clean.

Long Slow Distance

I’ve heard it said, by fellows
in tunics and scientist eggheads,
that we, meaning all things that aren’t
nothing, no things, are made up

of subatomic, quantum, finely-tuned
strings vibrating, as in a well-
translated koan, our unmeaning
brought over coherently.

If that’s true, then we, a metaphor
for four billion years of tuning turn
out to be this table, chair, air,
organ, skin, and also a melody

each, lines, drawn-in notes,
or instruments, timpani,
tuba, blowing beats
in a distinct symphony.

Urge v. Will

When I see someone doing something cool or amazing or difficult I have an urge to try that. The urge rises up inside me. I’m inspired. But soon enough that urge fades away. Sometimes I have the urge to go hang-gliding, or to swim/bike/run an Ironman, or to find a racetrack and drive a NASCAR. We all have urges. They are born in the gut and in the bowels and can be quelled, held back, or ignored in a matter oF minutes. The word, urge, is the sound that the stomach and intestines make as they are digesting our food. Listen. Put your head on someone’s belly. Urge. Uuuurrrrrggggeeeee.

Will, however, has two meanings. One is “I intend to do this in the future tense,” as in, “I will call you.” The other, and the one I would suggest you mean whenever you use the word is, “The sustained power of intention over the inertia of present truth.” As in, “She succeeded by sheer force of will.” I suggest you use the second as your meaning whenever you use the word. Go back to that phone call. When you merely intend to do something in the future tense it does not make into reality. When you use the force of your being to overcome inertia, you pull the future toward you and shape it.

The other thing about will, besides its misplaced double meanings, is that we write it wrong. Those of us using Germanic/Romantic languages write our words from left to right. So “will” looks like just another word. But will is actually a hieroglyph, a pictograph, a word made up of pictures, and it is most appropriately written top to bottom, like this:

W
i
LL

At the top of will is the crown. W. A crown is placed on top of the head of a king or queen, a person anointed by God to lead. In order to properly use your will you must understand that your voice, your power, your action is about letting the creative/destructive (constructive), power of nature flow through you. To enjoin your will you must crown yourself with that great big W.

And you must place that crown on top of your head. The crown Chakra is your connection to the divine, to all living things. The head Chakra is your connection to the reason and logic and how you conceptualize and shape the world around you. Having the will to do something, without knowing what that thing is leaves you running around screaming at the top of your lungs. And while, a five year old is full of energy and fun to watch, their will spewing out all over the place, until they have a head on their shoulders, i, they are not going to save the world.

So now you have your crown and have placed it firmly on your intention, idea, ideation. Now you need action. Thankfully, you have evolved to have two strong legs, meeting the ground at two strong feet.

LL

The trees do not have these. All there great ideas can do is sprout leaves, which last a season and fall to earth simply to tell of what they have seen. But you can carry your ideas to fruition, to action. You have the will to shape your dreams, hands to mold them, arms to protect them, legs and feel to make them move, a mind to mold and shape and reshape them, the crown to anoint them into reality. The will, the

W
i
LL

to turn an improbable and unborn future into a very present tangible reality. You will.

So Good

Sung last night, when we pulled curtains tight
and blocked each bulb of light from streaking

our window. We sang in darkness thick, of sweet lyrics,
of wit. This morning late slept so when the rope broke

the sun was miles above the horizon, overwhelmed
by love strung bright as sweat seeping between clouds.

I came to you in pieces, in sheets, like notes in a pale.
You picked me up, hung me on a staff, and on a sail.

We loved quick-hot and deep-long. I plucked
at you like a string. You came on like a song.

Pompeii

If any control befell us we might first give up
the sneeze, it’s strike-like explosion where
breath and impulse mix in an inch of choice
we seem unlikely to inhabit. We might first

give up the in-breath that escapes
when a (wo)man well-made up in our head
walks, alive and real, in and we prove ourselves
to our lust eternally powerless. We might

give up our fear, when the plane drops too quick,
our dreams, which overcome us while we lie
unable, for hours at a time, to plot the moral.
We might. We might, give up flashes of anger

with those whom we share stories.
We might give up our blood
pouring into nascent capillaries
or the pump that ceaseless pours.

We might then, minds right, find ourselves
solved and saved and in possession
of not one good excuse for our sorrow,
nor our misery, nor our giddy tingling.

Constructive Summer

Harkin had the worst handwriting and specs as thick as
the haze hormones lay on the brain

so it came as an epiphany when we discovered he was
the delinquent behind the graffiti monsters

whose growls were so beautiful our
grandparents pooled their trusts to purchase the building

and leave it to us untouched except for that day in June when
the wealthy and the august alike

meet with bristles and buckets to redefine what weather has
tried every day to wind and rain away..
.

God’s graffiti: Harkin,
the monsters, the old and monied,
the wind,
the bricks and
June and us
and rain.

Cosmic Love

We thought we knew– in the womb, tied
into the heartbeat, tied
into the grumble of a belly, tied
into muffled voices– the totality of love and being.

We thought we knew– after the first fall, first
cut of skin and blood, first
tumble down stairs, when our parents
picked us up for hugs– the totality of love and being.

We thought we knew– when, with hormones
coursing through our veins
some young thing looked into us
with such longing– the totality of love and being.

We thought we knew when touched, in prayer, by God,
in first meditation, in Cathedral, between tears
of impossible life-long promise, in the wiggle
in the eyes of our offspring.

The heart keeps alighting, igniting,
then opening up to larger truths, to possibilities,
to newer and newer peace, to others, to each.
(And we thought we knew).

These Days

On a thick pub tabletop we’ve crammed in
as many empty glasses as can fit, as many
stories as can fit, drinking to the years since
we were sure about what color hair love
must have, what dollars and what frames
we’d work for. On the gravel outside
a four-door sedan by a mini-van. In it
we clutch 
our boxes and our wrappers,
in the back 
there’s a factory designed
to entertain the wee. 
Remember backseat
cushions pressed 
against perfume,
and fogged windows offered 
the privacy
of a hotel room. Sometimes 
you come
to the light with an old tune playing 
too low,
no one else at the intersection. Your hair
grows, and your voice crackles, and the pedal
longs for sneakers, and you spin, till the sign
reminds you of 45  and of the wealth of this
life. When it’s all gone I hope we can return,
off-
stage, without carpeting, tile, stone
sidewalks and long highways. I want
to tell 
you how much love I have, how much
envy, 
how much time with you meant to me.

Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos

The Buddha was born to privilege
and died beneath
the lotus tree.

We were raised in green lush
forests of ignorance,
our stance

on political issues taking into account
neither far off
nor near history,

the world outside our palace,
down by the river,
in the Ozarks.

Buddha was born the day he embraced
the world of suffering,
curiosity for a way

to live in concert hardened his back and broke
through easily fed
desires of the flesh,

his strength from the song of the bazaar, from steel
in sun. We stand mute
before consequence,

knowing we’ll never go, in this flesh, to that prison,
having been cursed or blessed
with a belly full

and the right of fully realized potential,
a hard heart, blind eyes,
and a deathless life.

Jumper

The slights and lack of light embossed on a first grade face
are too deep
to be placed

by just the snarl
of a bully
casting out by a girl who won’t enjoy kissing for another decade

some souls are born
under-built for this world
as if an appendage
failed to grow in

some spend years cleaving chunks of meat their soul has yet to embody
and some take scores
to fill-in suit sleeves

dragging on the floor
thighs bunched up to the feet
the S on their cape deflated well into their forties (and still longer to fly)

Video Killed The Radio Star

The final verdict handed down in court today,
said death must be administered swift, without delay.
“But he’s so old,” his lawyers begged for some mercy,
called his client fat and weak and unsexy.

With all the bandwidth suckled up by video,
the TV sets don’t even play the songs no more.
And radio’s just morphed into this other thing,
living happily in a box beside the video games.

And so the judge decided something so severe,
the court reporter screamed at what she heard.
He said, “Kill them both, and kill the MP3.
Music wasn’t meant to play inside a screen.”

So now we have to wait until the festival,
to watch our favorite acts put earwigs in our skulls.
And in the meantime, we have met our spouse today,
and all our children just went back outside to play.

You Know

In the deep blood
oxygen deprived morning,
blue like a bruise
beneath skin, knowing
Ptoelmy’s hot body,

this world, of which we are
just sex, nothing but
a fungus filled with seeds
of consciousness absorbed
by the stomach’s inner lining, I

feels still, like the sun
rolls back in, always,
in a day, or a month,
that universal uterus
ending in a prick of light.

I dream days away,
devoted, in a deep chill,
to the idea that I must offer
something unique to this world
with these gold flecked eyes.

Whatnot

In the jungle

         a muggy umbrella

slumps above the canopy,

                   lumber

in its soggy blur

         feeding equally

every germ

                   and each gene.

 

My father

         built Manhattan

to stay separate

                   from the embers of a forest,

his sleep daily

         deprived by the bugler’s

jeer of Reveille.

 

We’re imbued

         with a dank mist

that merges clams

                   and hawks

and seeds.

 

The dew of our lungs,

         our humidity

calms fire,

                   bungles flint locks

and bombs.

 

All things into all things.

 

My father stripped the forest

         so’s he could stay dry,

sleep peacefully,

                   though I’ll admit

in tears,

         he never burned for me.

MMMBop

I loved her lips, honestly,
the oligarchy
of senses swearing
scarlet skin
sitting atop organs
opened an entryway
into other dominions.

I’ve sworn since
that I sense energy
in the mannerisms
of mystics migrating
by, though my cortex
claims plainly this
is prejudice playing.

The cliffs are distant,
as is the kitchen
counter, unreachable
as is the third grade
and old age,
and any level
outside of understanding.

Babble syllables
in rythmic spinning.
The basement of your brain
begins bopping.
Muscles twitch to assure
you that you loved her, more
than just her lips.

You’ve Got A Friend

We love the teenager’s earnest first album, unfettered
by the lilt of a head at a concert off campus,
the flirting curves of possibility.

Their flawless lust and heartfelt promise, before
the prick of success and nights indulged in rooms
they should never lie down in.

We love the braggadocio of a world-view cradled
in a journal by everything we know they can’t
yet know, the scrawls of innocence.

Oily face and awkward fingers pluck a guitar string,
shouting, without a doubt, chords, they’re assured
can change a mind, change everything.

Kashmir

i.

Mama would remind to scrub behind
ears, as if saying some corners
you won’t remember
need to be cleaned.

Papa would decry the Democrats and the Japs,
and the schools these days with their coddling ways
and the new fangled math.

Kashmir—
siege at the top of the world

ii.

Mama would warn not to talk to strangers,
to the police or an adult, hinting
there are no good
secret identities.

Papa would leave early, return late, fly off
on trips where he was always away,
come home tired, sleep all day.

Kashmir—
always combustible

iii.

Mama wanted to raise safe
ecstatic children, alive
and off in their element,
dodging the specter of foul things.

Papa wanted only to break, someplace
to sit in pieces, unbothered, a corner
in which to lament his fate.

Kashmir—
don’t you wish you were here

Daddy Was A Real Good Dancer

Joe wants to know
how old I am (coworker
banter). This year

I’m three feet and sixty
pounds turning in circles
of grass stained dungarees.

Or sixteen and freed
for the next hundred miles
by five gallons of gasoline.

I’m simple, sun-faced,
and happy. This year,
I contain the first few

moments inside a woman,
my fortieth birthday, too many
Sundays flailing in ecstasy

cheering for a miracle catch
on TV. I’m every gap in memory,
each darkness, all the nights

I’d take back, the lost transit
from this city to that.
The traffic to work,

all the curses. Older
than my father before
my birth. I’m uncharted.

The Downeaster Alexa

Our great uncles had scraped knuckles and loved
living in a time and place where each complaint
was accompanied by a plate of well earned protein.
If they could see us today they’d whoop and holler
at the lack of dust and clay we breathe
to earn and boil and burn that plate.

Our aunts were disciplinarians who taught reading
to children so they could grow, for a few years,
in fairytales where common folk were heroes.
If she could see us now in down coats and once
worn boots she’d grin, knowing those lessons
gave us a life of play, and how long we’d live.

For Halloween Cole’s a pumpkin. At Christmas
he’s awash in presents. He has loved-ones
in every state. In the schools now they teach
invention, hoping one day he’ll hue out a way
to raise those still in the mines, on the plows,
and in factories, to hasten our crawl from the sea.

Chasing The Permanence Of Things

I am quite sure the floor to this airplane is a solid object on which I can trust my body, my life and two bags of luggage, that it will not fail me. Pema Chodron would tell me this trust is unfounded, and silly. Obviously there is no ground beneath me. That is the nature of existence. She would say that there is always nothing holding this together. Once, knowing this, you can settle into a life of constant and permanent change. Are we ready for this? For our lovers and our children to be growing and living and falling to pieces. For not only technology, but memories, books and even the good old days to be constantly reshaping. Are we ready to admit that we are all gerunds unsettling, electrons bouncing from cloud to cloud, constantly running into each other and running away?

No. We try to hold onto moments, judgements, grudges. We try to outrun our own changing bodies, to beat back time, to trust memory and story, and to avoid having to face our inevitable death. We pile up anything that has ever given us a step up, a slight advantage, hoping that the mountain beneath us is enough to never crumble. But, there is nothing holding the earth in place, because it is not in place. It is a massive whirling spinning foam that has slowed and cooled only slightly. But somehow, when we came down from the trees, the first thing we tried to do was set down roots. We still try today to slow down sunlight, capture it and mead it out at a pace that allows us to stay in one place and safe.

And so we build things. At one point, “things” were about safety, and perhaps procreation. The person with the best cave could keep their offspring safe. But at some point we no longer had to worry about the elements, about lions. We are headed towards a world where some people will not have to worry about crime or accidents or disease. So why create or purchase more things. Remember, there is no ground beneath this airplane. We are spinning in the currents above spinning currents. We have not, will not, can not escape our ever changing, changing fate. Our inventions continue their decay.

So, I think, we innovate things that will not change. Artwork, pictures, injection plastic molding. If I buy a really nice model of car, or a great pair of jeans, perhaps they will outlast me. Perhaps I will be in my darkest final days and still have my teddy bear given to me when I was three, or the tie given to me when I was thirty. If only we could build slower and slower, or stopped, things. This is struggle. This is work. This is our rock we choose to push, each morning, uphill.

Tomorrow (and tomorrow), in a new place, in a new body, you will be forced to admit that nothing can be held very well for very long. You are different than you were today. Your newest set of nicest plates is not the same. Whether it be by flood, or earthquake or the slow rumble of time, your finest China will fall away. This is the nature of reality, the clothes on your back will leave you threadbare, and then you will lose your back, then this body.

Galileo chose to recant his findings in life. At death, he is claimed to have said, “It moves.” It rubs, it recedes, it decays, it falls away. It wants to be free from form, and then to form every form. Right now, the metal underneath my seat is being warn away by winds moving five hundred miles per hour at fifty degrees below freezing. It was not always metal. It will not always be. It is constantly moving. There is no permanence in things, only chasing.

Wanted (wanted)

Someday we will be a hundred and little
more than a novelty, an annoyance
to those around us, jabbering on

about days when we use to lift
ourselves from a hormones
haze, out of our rough life

when we were beautiful

and the music moved us
to drive to our lovers side
and chance promising a lie.

Someday we will pass, united
finally with our hot young selves,
our summer loves, and our harmonies.

Pictures Of You

The seventies burnt in orange and brown corduroy,
scratched, stretched and held together with Scotch

tape. The eighties smoldered in somber florescent
hues, peppier, yet more thoughtful. In my head

I keep black and white images, a Polaroid holding
nothing in color but your lips pursed in a question

beneath a piano. At night we were safe. The flash lit
nothing but your nose, the faded page of your cheeks,

your sweater washed out at the edges. My albums
spin with a skip, my movies look awful in high-def.

I love you in still-life without the hope of movement,
in memory. Fidelity is the tragedy of technology.

Bad

My head above the cold sidewalk
facing east
where the sun breaks a streak along the line of Kansas.

Behind it, states I’ve given my years to, by choice,
by circumstance, where folks I miss
woke earlier, rose children, burnt toast

who are now
busy scheduling meetings.
I face west to do what I’ve always done

facing the wide sky. Run. Bad
at long hauls, at dark nights,
at big gambles, and being Mr. Right

for anyone for very long. Bad
as anything, but
a sweet memory, a story, somewhat quotable.

Bruno Is Orange

The long clean line of mascara painted in the mirror by my hand when steady and my eyes wide open
led directly to the quaffed up hair and two spritzes of perfume walked into and mashed between wrists

by the end my equator was wobbling
by the moonset I carried my sandals
the sun woke to peel and squeeze me

The long sash around the center of the planet where days and nights are equal I’m reminded in Astronomy
half asleep and healing is not a circle but flat at the poles and bulging because of the speed of its spinning

by the end my equator was wobbling
by the moonset I carried my sandals
the sun this morning to skin and pour me