Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Not even one"

Or, December 31st

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not really all that invited

Or, December 30th


That which is coming to ripen
laughs,
throwing
forward like a shadow
its own decay. Okay.
We knew that.

Knew, too, that the heart's body
gets so invested
in the rhythms it's invented,
the rest is lost.
What is lost?
Certainly
this
one
here.

Which, having only
its particular incompleteness
to offer,
offered it entirely.
Lost.
Though toward its backward future
one
can keep
throwing
the guess-shadow.

Angling the mirror
so all its purposeful
wayward
twist-fingered hands
are toward
this
here,
reaching.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Circumstance time

Or, December 29th

I take your words into great account…


… is a phrase that didn't make it as a title for yesterday but now, in the first hours of December 29th, comes to my aid.  I didn't like the photo for December 28th, and that's the first time I've felt that way since I started this project.  That didn't sit well, so I went and looked at some other recent photos.  I post this one because it echoes so strongly an image from a dream I had a couple of nights ago. I sensed that the dream was significant.  You could even say I take its words into great account. 

Sunday, December 28, 2008

All my logic

Or, You get it back
Or, December 28th

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A slip away

Or, They see less of you
Or, December 27th


Friday, December 26, 2008

Go on and on

Or, December 26th

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Let's say yes

Or, Unsafe raft
Or, December 25th

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lost down


Or, The instructions aren't there
Or, December 24th

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What is the name that I am?

Or, Octuple-ly hot
Or, December 23rd

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just the ringing

Or, I make it a hobby
Or, December 22nd

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Someone to fight


Or, You do the things that she doesn't understand
Or, December 21st

Saturday, December 20, 2008

fine/normal/basic


Or, Practice by pinching
Or, December 20th

Friday, December 19, 2008

If you do it fiercely enough

Or, The way you might have a nightmare
Or, December 19th

winter
is for waiting
though the shadow fingers are
already curving to stroke this same
spot on the map of summer
already plotting their
collision with some
spring fruit's
kiss

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fiction of a fixed



Or, People who are me
Or, December 18th

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Believe it or not, I'm coming

Or, Turn down the radio
Or, You just gotta be satisfied
Or, December 17th

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What you won't say


Or, What she continues to say too long
Or, Two sides of the same coin
Or, December 16th

3 am

Through the kitchen window,
a maple tree shines.
Lit up this way, by one street light
and a close moon,
its yellow heart goes all the way
indecorous
out to its elbow-tips,
its bronzey throat.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Everything I have to say

Or, One good end
Or, December 14th




Saturday, December 13, 2008

So




















I'm getting a sense of high urgency



Or, I just can't relax with that
Or, December 13th


is it raining?  is it?
yes or no.
the tenderest difference
between goodbye and hello.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wildly crazy maneuvers at critically slow speeds

Or, It's all about eating
Or, In the forest somewhere
Or, December 12th

when you want to tell me something,
write it on a map.
write it on the blue space
that means the ocean.

if the map is very big, and full
of dangerous details,
trust that I'll find it anyway.  draw
me a boat.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not all concentrate on one

Or, Is he smiling?
Or, December 11th

Sleep

It's not always possible, but here's what helps.
Clean sheets with a pattern of minute blue flowers.
The shutters open, preferrably on a screaming moon.
(This is important because she'll want to climb inside your
eyelids, and you'll want to fight her,
and you'll get to practice losing).
A pile of books on the night table.

Here is what you do.
Carefully finger the corners of the books, as full of
curiosity as if the finger belonged to someone else.
Page through the books as if they were full of bad
drawings by someone you love—show with your pace
and grace and steady breathing that you appreciate them
beyond judgment. Lie on your side then and survey
the pile of books from a little distance. Admire the corner
of the room, the way it is just itself. The bed is exactly this
far off the ground. Accept fully that you could die in the night.
Think how people who love you wouldn't like you talking
like this—smile because it's your own thought, silent and true.

The letting go will seem to you like many things at once.
A cutting of strings, a slowing of a complicated melody until—
not nothing. Not exactly. Something is always coming up
from the ground, making a steady sound like water settling
into soil but in reverse, flowing up into the shape of grass stems,
filtering up and asserting themselves in the bright darkness.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do not attempt to defeat this safety feature

Or, December 10th

Koshland Park

A man came to the park to cut his fingernails.  Or
found himself with a clipper in his pocket and five
minutes in the sun, no one around currently making
trouble for anyone else.  Here is each bench paired
with a trash can. A small meadow where people laugh
out loud at the miracle that their dogs keep coming back.
All the dog mouths smiling because of rope, stick or ball.
The man is taking his time, working away at the extra
with bright clicks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Methods for going about it

Or, Hint of pear
Or, December 9th

Your friend stops by
bringing
lemon curd thumbprint cakes,
a one-year child
with a snuffling nose-laugh

and the off-hand comment
that reminds you
what you love
in your life.

You have to leave the room.
When you come back
your friend has taken a picture:
the dog eyes warily
the baby's lotus of a hand.

When your life rearranges itself this easily,
it is like lifting and shaking out such a thin veil
that no one even feels the air move.

Your friend loves
her one-year girl,
all the ways she has
already ripped her life open,
all the ways they can't do without
each other.

The thing you love doesn't exist
unless you look at it.  You are allowed
to blink an unforgivable number of times.
When you turn, it turns sweetly, as if from sleep.
When you look, it regards you,
just standing there joyfully abject
you regard each other looking in
secret again. 



Monday, December 8, 2008

Goodnight, noble clerk

Or, December 8th

Leashing the dogs,
I remember how we are tied to our karma
and vow with all beings to relinquish completely
the trap of not enjoying my life.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No need for us to pretend


Or, She's a grown child
Or, December 7th


eating a baked tomato,
my teeth run out of time to regret
the warm evaporation
that leaves them no artefact
of argument





Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ten-Minute Smile

This afternoon I was driving home; the clock read 4:49.  I had a thought:  would it kill me to smile for ten minutes without stopping?  Then of course I had to.  I like to think I can survive anything for ten minutes.  And, would you believe it, there were one or two things on my mind, the kind of things I'm convinced are best managed with a decidedly dour face.  Which gave the exercise a delicious tinge of risk and perversity.

Some background on smiling.  The last time I visited my brother in New York, I had a headache for almost the entire four days.  I laughed too much.  Apparently, I can't take much laughing at all without getting a headache.  Same with smiling, when the smiling is genuine.  I get something that feels like a sinus headache plus TMJ, and it lasts for hours.

So I started smiling and didn't stop until 4:59.  Time and again, I became worried that I looked like a fang-y, deranged beast, so I'd check in the rearview mirror, find that I looked pretty natural, and laugh.  The laughing hurt, but it helped.  At 4:59 I did think, "what the heck, I'll go 'til a nice even 5:00," but my face refused.  I felt like I used to feel upon crossing the finish line after a marathon:  like maybe I did some damage I'll never recover from.  Oh, but I'm fine.  Shaky and sore (I did some pretty awkward stretches and popped a Sportenine or two) but fine.

I joke about my problems with it (undertrained facial muscles?  Psycho-physical malco├Ârdination rearing its head in the face of happiness?) but this smiling stuff is serious.

"If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile?  Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy.  The source of a true smile is an awakened mind." 

—Thich Nhat Hahn, Peace is Every Step


What are YOU craving right now?

Or, Have a good leitmotif
Or, December 5th

"There are few intensely esthetic experiences that are wholly gleeful.  They are certainly not to be characterized as amusing, and as they bear down upon us they involve a suffering that is none the less consistent with, indeed a part of, the complete perception that is enjoyed."

—John Dewey, Art as Experience

Friday, December 5, 2008

Longing to no longer

Or, Look out through your eyes
Or, December 5th

cape rush

the small cape rush is a plant from south africa.  its whole life, it never stops making a sound like a mouse peeling the skin off a peanut.  a short furious rustling.  the skin heaved free in one mahogany piece.  is what is not happening.  it's just the rush.  sit close enough and you'll find you're sad, already fond of the mouse.  she had such an astute face.  



Thursday, December 4, 2008

We were almost not fit to be tied

Or, Humble-ized every day
Or, December 4th

What wind?
But the stone earlobes
Of the dining room Buddha
Are blowing

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So Many Conditions

Or, Smile, you're almost there
Or, December 3rd

is does it
the poet avers
in his quiet book

I trust him with the I
that's beaches when the tide goes travelling,
that doesn't live to see the end of the word

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Help me with these little sounds

Or, December 2nd

Cellist resting

Sometimes she rests so long she rises
and the light is gone from the window,
the leaves have let go of the tree's hand.
A decline in effort correlates to a decline

in profit, in production, in sweetness of song—
she suspects, though who at this exact moment
is listening?  Brain has made up its mind
to be the quiet half of the conversation,

lacking humor, lazy on the uptake,
late to the table, but her hands just keep doing
what she even half wills them to,
the way it takes love a long time to find
another way.  But even her hands will lie flat if she keeps an eye.
Either the floor or the back of her head is singing.




Monday, December 1, 2008

Absolutely gone


Or, It's from our mind so it definitely will stick with us
Or, December 1st

he went out one morning & the mountain was no longer there
just dissolved & from the pines a shattering updraft of crows crying
get used to disappointment though the sky still wasn't used to it
arms stuck holding the purple exhale where the peak had been

by night the pines had calligraphed into flailing blips
the moon itself into the most bitter tooth having no frame
of reference nowhere to root no surface to reflect from
& the human's body shuddered like something he was going to shed

any instant simple as coughing sufferable as laying the day's things
on the table and walking out to see has anything changed

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lest one forget

the most delicate of all

The launch of this blog, which I intend as a place for my little daily poems and photographs to land and live and have their being, coincides with Thanksgiving weekend 2008, which is also the weekend that we say goodbye to Polly the Frog. The Frog's passing is a delicate subject, so it fits.

Polly lived for about 24 years (the exact year she arrived in the mail as a pollywog in a little plastic bag has been forgotten) in a fishbowl on the dresser in the dining room in my parents' house. It was also, of course, my house for much of that time. Now, suddenly, the dresser is empty of Frog. The moment I found her lying at the bottom of her bowl with one eye looking really funny, and not having moved for a full day, I thought This is the end of my childhood. Which is a funny thought to have when you're 29.

My friend P.'s mother C. liked to compare the Frog to the priest at her church. The priest would spread his arms out to the sides in a gesture of blessing. Polly's arms were always out to the side. She was a very simple being, with a tiny nervous system inside her off-gold skin. We hoped her nervous system was too small to be upset that her life was lived out entirely in a plain bowl with no diversion. Sunlight came through the windows during the day. My father fed her faithfully every evening and changed her water when it got green. To do so he had to catch her in a net. She'd thrash inside it during the few seconds between leaving the bowl and entering the temporary smaller bowl. You could see her little ribs, and while she fought she seemed to have little pecs and collarbones. Her hind feet were webbed with a material that would sometimes flutter when she lay still. She had a singing voice that sounded like a river of microscopic pebbles.

I would be very pleased to live a delicate life.  Being delicate seems like the best thing. You aren't very well protected against being hurt or disappointed. You do your best to look at what is around you and manage illusion. I'll quote Suzuki-roshi, since he had a special place in his heart for frogs:

"When we first hear that everything is a tentative existence, most of us are disappointed; but this disappointment comes from a wrong view of man and nature. It is because our way of observing things is deeply rooted in our self-centered ideas that we are disappointed…"

Which brings me to my shame about the way I thought of the Frog. I always worried that I was going to find her dead. Eventually, I did. But for years I didn't look at her without thinking about her passing. She seemed to us all to have lived so much longer than a Grow-a-Frog was supposed to. I wanted to prepare myself, to cushion the blow, to make there be no blow. Once or twice a year I'd acknowledge what I was doing. And I'd make myself stand there for a second and just see Frog.

A friend of mine once proposed that love is just being gentle and giving your full attention. As far as I know, the Frog lived a less complicated life than humans do. But, bless her, she was gentle (she was gentleness) and gave her full attention.