Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Image hosted by

I'm in the middle of a seventy-hour work week with a rotating graveyard, swingshift, dayshift schedule so I am a little befuddled. My child is in the midst of an emotional storm and my wife is broken-hearted because the kid hates us.

Ah, sweet life. It does make a mess of things.

Hoping all the best for all of you in the coming year!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bullfinch's Mythology or Ode to The Radish King

The wildebeest yawns and stretches.
His yellow eyes scan the dark stalks of dry grass
around his bed of matted vegetation.
A dim flower, crushed, peeks
from beneath his rump.

Above him, the few late stars are begging to go home.

The wildebeest, let's call him Carl,
picks out the constellation Oncorhynchus, leaping over the crow.
He notes that one of the stars, kraz, or the left-handed lynchpin,
which represents the gills of the great fish,
has already packed her bags for Rome,
leaving a gap in the formation.

Of course, Carl reminds himself,
that’s only from my point of view.
Limited as that is.

Still, he thinks, I wish it were, well, you know,

Carl thinks of himself as a Connochaetes taurinus taurinus,
or Blue Wildebeest. But of this he is mistaken.

Ignorant of his true nature, he shakes his head and stands,
snorts into the dirt, slaps his rump with his short, ragged tail,
steps out onto the savannah from beneath the tree he’d chosen
to sleep under for the night.

Off to the east, the sky begins to pinken, like the shoulders
of a little girl too long at the shore.

I wish I still had that book of poems, Carl thinks,
as he chews this day’s first mouthful of grass.
It is a rare event to find a book on the savannah,
so it was a big deal to him. He carried the book with him
everywhere he went for a month. Until the rains came,
and the book disintegrated, the pages drifting off in runnels
of rainwater, whole chapters setting sail in gully washers.
The spine the last to go.

Carl ate that.

You know, Carl says, I liked that book a great deal.

Yes, Carl, I know, says God.

Well, why’d you take it from me, then?
I wasn’t finished with it. Carl stomps his right forefoot
into the dirt, petulantly.

I didn’t take it from you, Carl. It got wet. It fell apart.
That is the nature of things.

God looks off towards Rome, sees that kraz
has made it home safely.

Oh, don’t start with me, Carl says. Don’t start in again with
‘The Nature of Things’. Give me a break.

Now Carl.

No, really. I suppose you’ll tell me
that giving Lupus to Anna Nicole Smith and Asthma
to Brad Pitt is just ‘the nature of things,’ too.
You make me sick.

Don’t forget giving Russell Crowe osteoporosis, God chuckled.
I thought that one up myself.

Yeah, well. It just goes to show you.
Carl looked around and took another mouthful of grass.
The fish have got you all figured out, you know?
You are a braggart and a moron. I mean,
what were you thinking letting that Leonardo fellow
paint that Mona Lisa?
Pure stupidity.

Ah, but I was right, Carl. They never figured it out.

Carl snorted. You got lucky.

I am the All-being, Carl. I don’t get lucky.

And the whole deal with those poets.
Rilke, Yeats, that Whitman fellow.
Treading on thin ice if you ask me.

Ah, yes. The poets. God beamed.
The temperature on the savannah rose eleven degrees in two seconds.
They do please me.

You’re gonna blow the whole deal if you keep that up, you ask me.

Have a little faith, Carl. Perhaps if they do figure it out,
they deserve a shot.

Humph. Carl trots across the grassland toward the river.
His paltry mane lifts and taps against his massive neck.
He snorts and shakes his head again for the sheer joy of it.
He picks up speed.

You be careful, Carl. God says, smoting a village
in Kazakstan with a new and deadly virus.
You remember what happened to your brother.

But Carl will hear nothing of it.
He runs with ever greater speed, barreling across the savannah
like a bullet train. His legs churn up the hard-packed dirt
and he smells the river growing closer.

Ahead of him a line of brush marks the water’s edge.
He puts his head down.

Maybe I shouldn’t have let him read that Mary Oliver after all,
God thought to himself.

Carl reaches the cliff edge and leaps into the void above the muddy water.
He stretches out to his full length. His yellow eyes burn.

He flies.

Image hosted by

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I Was Dreaming About This Life

Image hosted by

It is easy to see how other people create their own dramas, how their patterns of thought and behavior keep them trapped in a kind of recurring nightmare of the same issues surfacing and resurfacing in an endless loop. Unhappy with their spouse, they divorce and remarry someone who seems to have the same "problems" their former spouse had. Leave one job for another and still they struggle with their boss' inability to understand or appreciate them. Move from a crime-ridden city to the country only to have their new home broken into or their car stolen in the suburbs. Cigarettes, drugs, sex, chocolate, dieting, plastic surgery, gambling...the list goes on.

But it is another thing entirely to see your own hand in your own dramas.

I know that I am trapped in the same kind of patterns of thought and behavior, and I know them intimately. I am not fooled into believing that they come from someone or someplace "outside" of me. But this is a kind of mind-knowledge, not "body-knowledge", if that makes any sense. My understanding is cerebral, not visceral. The anxiety that keeps me up at night isn't cerebral, although it is mind-centered and mind-created. It courses through my veins and although I can ride it out, meditate through it and ameliorate it somewhat, it doesn't leave until it's good and ready. Same thing with feelings of sadness. Guilt. Anger.

And all this striving. I get sick of my laziness and bad habits and swear off drink and too much food and no exercise and I go sit meditation and read books on how to change my thinking and I exercise and set goals and eat right and strive and strive and strive towards an imagined perfection- telling myself that I am striving for balance, for peace, for some kind of spiritual 'growth' or understanding.

But it's just more time on the wheel.

Spin, spin, spin. Little hamster going like mad.

No stillness at the center.

Where is buddhanature now?


Monday, December 26, 2005

The Nature of Emptiness

Image hosted by

So, another day to reach for something good. Another day to try to stop reaching so hard. A chance at forgiveness, a chance at making some kind of connection with my own buddhanature, a chance to dig my trench of habitual mind patterns that much deeper. A chance to persist in my fears. A chance to keep putting off right action. A chance to let myself down into the warm waters or to pull my jacket more tightly around me and walk on into the cold.

Christmas was a kind of hodge-podge this year. My wife is always ambivalent about the holiday season- her urge is always to do less, to spend less, to put the ever smaller tree up ever later, to stay home, to avoid it all as much as possible. I am on the other side of the see-saw, never feeling like I've done enough, always wanting to buy the more expensive present, and one more, and another, and don't forget to help out Santa and put out the gifts in his name, etc. Until this year, Emily has always been with me on that, getting us up at five or six, and bursting into our room lit from within with excitement and glee and joy...

This year I worked Christmas eve night, then back at work by 5:30 am on Christmas day, so things were all discombobulated. I missed the family get together at my Mom's house on Christmas eve, then Yolie and Em and I did our presents that night at about nine, and I was off to work again in the am. Em and I are running up to my Dad's today to do a quick gift exchange, then off to my brother's house for Hanukkah/Christmas/Christmaskah slap-dash after he gets up from his Christmas night graveyard shift at the Sheriff's Dept. and before he goes back to work. Yolie is back to work today, so she misses this part of it.

But in the midst of all of this craziness and work and conflicting scheduling, I still found the simple bliss of this life penetrating all. How blessed we all are. I am blessed beyond all measure with a home, a job, a wonderful wife, a perfect and challenging daughter, good family, good friends, a healthy body, an active mind, the ability to want more, to work on progress towards becoming better, the wisdom to make friends with myself, art, poetry, walks, surfing, dog-petting, chewing on the bone of my own shortcomings, etc.

I want to say thank you to all of you who come here and listen in on me. I know that a connection has been forged between us, and I feel it deepen every day.

In an instant, all that we treasure can be taken from us. It is ours, but it does not belong to us. We are momentary beings in this world, a breath, a flicker of candlelight, a surging wave that rises up, crashes on the shore, and foams away into nothingness as it rejoins the sea from which it came and from which it cannot be separated.

Merry Christmas, my brief and shining friends.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cause Me to Know the Way Wherein to Walk

Image hosted by

What is aprehended by the eye is holy.
What the hands can touch, holy.
What the lips can taste, holy.

What is there in this world but love? When I hear the laughter of my daughter I am showered with blessings. When I move my body my joints and muscles sing songs of love to my soul and to my body. When I wake in the dark love is all around me. I take it in with each breath and send it out to all the universe with each exhalation. When I weep my tears are as jewels of joy, their bitterness awakens my heart to sing in its agony to the Lord my God, to the engine that turns all things, to the wheel of life that lifts me to the heavens and then crushes me into the earth, breaking my bones and spilling my blood like wine into the dirt.

I think that something is at work.

I think that something is at work.

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


I am afraid, not of what I am losing, but of not being brave enough to continue....


Monday, December 19, 2005

Escape Velocity and Heavenly Bodies

Image hosted by

Last night we went to a Christmas party at a friend's home and they've been going through this very tough, very bitter time, so it's hard sometimes to be around them. The pain they're in spills out onto everyone else and they throw sparks off that leave little scorch marks on all the furniture and the rugs. It's ugly and intractable and heartbreaking. So anyway, there we were all sitting around and they are musicians, so they had a trio: her on the baby grand, him on guitar, and another guy on the cello, and they just sat and played some stuff for the few of us gathered around. It was the most beautiful music and I felt it move right through me, in my bones and in the hollow spaces of my head and all along my skin and I kept looking from one of them to the other, and at all of us together, and it was as if the music was a kind of rope that bound us, or was a physical manifestation of the ties that bound us all together- him to her, them to each other, us to them, etc. There were no words to muddy the emotional truth of it, no way to speak of it and no way to deny it, either. It was as if the music said all that needed to be said and all that could not be spoken.

I wanted to weep for our brokenness and our frail beauty.

It came to me then, suddenly and completely, that we are all of us simply human. And that we fuck up in spectacular ways that are always only ordinary in the end, and that love binds us, love holds us and undoes us and bears all and fails all and like the air we breathe we cannot exist without it. Not because we'd die without it, but because it is there completely independent of us. We serve love, not the other way around.

It was nice music.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Raven's Nomenclature of Sorrow

Image hosted by


This dark bird flies through the sunlight in my soul and
everything inside of me trembles with dark joy and luminous sorrow.

He is the arrow I let loose with my first cry come home to haunt me.
To free me. To root me to my own spot and to dislodge what needs

He places a burning ember between my lips and one in each palm and bids me

But he's hoping I'll hold my tongue.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

For I Was As A Child in My Happiness

Image hosted by


A concrete abutment a bowl of water a golden
bough in the hands of a madman a fear of meat a
trick of the light an abandoned shaft a broken
body in the reeds.

I held my head in my hands again and wept.
Jesus wept. My old friend Jim Lineberger
wept, too.

He couldn’t hardly stop it.


Once I stood in front of a mirror and drew red ribbons
on my chest and arms with a razor blade and shook
and trembled and little droplets of blood flew from
my body and made pitter-patter sounds on
the linoleum floor.

But I am much better now.


A concrete abutment and the golden bowl is inset
into the top of it where it catches what falls from the sky.
A handful of rainwater glistens in the belly of the bowl
and makes the sound of an angel brushing dirt
from its wingtips.

Look around you, there’s no one singing.
There’s no one singing. There’s just
that guy over there, holding a golden bowl.

It’s sad.

He’s so old he’s pissed himself.
He laughs like a pervert and points
to the river of gold at his feet as if
to rebuke us all and you look around

but there’s not a soul in sight although
you swear you can hear someone.
What’s that they’re singing? Yes,
what is that song?

Okay, I will tell you.


You are my holy one.
You are my holy one.
You are my holy one.

You are my holy one.
You are my holy one.
You are my holy one.

You are my holy one.
You are my holy one.
You are my holy one.

You are as the flames of fire.
You are as the flames of fire.
You are as the flames of fire.

You are my holy one.


Stain No. 2

Image hosted by


I have fallen out of the habit of writing here. I suppose it is natural, ebb and flow, etc. But I miss this place, miss having communion with my thoughts and with those of you who people this weird space. Our daughter is home for the Christmas holidays, three weeks. I am as happy as I have ever been because of that. She is an incredible person and she's going to school in an incredible place, and the beautiful alchemy of change is being wrought in her. She overflows with love for her friends and for the world, and she is learning to be discerning and a critical thinker and deciding how she is going to make her way into adulthood.

I'm a proud daddy.

The other light of my life has taken a job at a local bed and breakfast. She brings her own light to the place, and her own dog, too. Lucy the English bulldog. They are both a big hit.

What else.

I am exploring a vegetarian diet and finding it to be wonderful. Oh, and Yoga. And sitting meditation and running. And no drinking.

Jesus. What a goody-two-shoes.

But as my gorgeous and loving wife would tell you, under the beefy exterior of this cop body beats the heart of a nervous little poodle. I get wrapped around the axle all the time, and after a while unwrapping myself with liberal applications of vodka martinis and double cheeseburgers and cigars, I kinda turn into something ugly.

So, for now, the path of the renunciate.

I have to say it is refreshing and feels genuinely good. I have tried this many times before, but it has always been a struggle, something done out of a sense of obligation. Right now it just feels right. The food is fabulous and tasty and wild and the workouts feel great. Yoga is a foreign language to me, but I can tell there's something subtle and dangerous about it that turns me on. Big changes afoot.

Also, got promoted at work. Now I am a Sergeant. I got kicked out of detectives and kicked off SWAT and now I sit at a desk in a glassed-in room and try not to kill myself for ten hours at a time. Ah, the wonderful world of middle management! I will begin my campaign of subversive-poetry-writing-while-at-work as soon as possible.

In my heart and my body I feel a slow unfolding. A flowering of something, a deepening, a quickening...

I miss all of you deeply. I am an inattentive host, but please never mistake that for a lack of affection.