Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kind Eyes, Life Force

Here are two more visions of love. Hindus say Namaste, I believe in South India, Namaskar. Both mean roughly, "I salute the Divine within you". (In Sanskrit namah is "salute" in this way, as you might God. We on the other side of the Indo-European divide have names, that would seem to be in the original, divine salutes.)That's a whole 'nother post - that when I am named, something in me is acknowledged as divine.

When I truly fall in love, there are always two of you, the earth woman and the goddess. Just as the earth woman has many complexities, so does the goddess. Jung called out four primary goddesses(archetypes), Priestess/Prostitute, Virgin, Crone, Mother, but there are more, as the Greeks knew, and all are present, but rarely all at once.

The danger arises when a man such as I am confuses the divine and the human. The danger can arise, that I love the goddess but not really the woman. It may be that I hunger for the goddess so much that I accept the woman, try not to see the parts I don't really want. Or I may impose too much, call her out too soon, perhaps call something I see that she can never see, much less be. There is so much more. And if reciprocated in just this way, oh my! Heaven and hell can arive in the space of minutes. Every day. Because earth marries earth and gods marry goddesses.

When I married, I stayed away from all that. I married a woman I could and did love who did not call to me from the divine. I am sure that was true for her too. This lasted over twenty years, but the truth is it should not have lasted over five.

Kind Eyes

I feel solar wind
Blasting past my earthen soul
With bright songs fading.

I journey beyond my life
To search every corner
As long as it takes.

I seek the kind eyes
Of the one who left me here.
This reminds poem is not an original vision but comes from a song I used to sing, before it was made famous. Chet Powers wrote it in 1963 and I was singing it, got it from a coffee house performer named Paul Zeigler in 1964...the second verse:

Some will come and some will go,
We will surely pass,
Til the One who left us here
Returns for us at last.
We are but a moment's sunlight
Fadin on the grass.

This is one of the truer descriptions of our living situation as I see it. Why would not my lover in her goddess aspect be the One? And here I am. She is gone. I am bright but I fade.

And this poem shows something of what it is when she is here in my life.

Life Force

The girl ensouls me
With her eyes, her heart awake
Within my own heart,
The moon of tides within me
Rising with my heat, my breath.

I accept her bright stars.
I love the rich fragrant hues
Of her shining ways.

Ohhh, this is going to hurt! Hell yes, it's going to hurt. Probably won't last. So what. I do not dare miss it...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ouch, Signs Of You

I don't take suggestions well. Some suggestions are like this....well, son, we are here in this airplane, the door is open, you got the gear on. I suggest when you go through that door that on the way down you pull the rip that. It really doesn't matter where I go, there I am. I have the same trouble. Here's one version.


I bumped my noggin.
I was among the wee folk
On my last project.

We were building with bluestone
Aligning earth with heaven.

They told me to wear
Mercury's gold winged helmet
But I was too proud.

I really am a sap. Don't really care. I fall in love across the room routinely, just have learned not to do anything. But I love the idea of being in love, and I also like writing from that place, from reaching into the places in me that come to the surface when the goddess is in my life. I can smell her there, just behind that door. I can hear the song she sings under her breath while she gets ready for what comes next.

Signs Of You

Being short sighted
I don't see you as you come
From the far corner
In the mirror of my mind.

I am blind sided by love
When you caress me,
Fondle my dreams with such care,
Leave me signs of you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Singularity, Eating Prayers

I have no idea where these poems came from. The outer form was a photo of a tree standing alone, and one of a seashore.

There are doorways to somewhere in the dark down deep places of me. For years now, probably sixteen years, many of the doors have been open. When I write, for example, when I improvise on the keyboard for another, it's my job to get the session started, then stuff happens and it becomes my job to keep up with it. It seems more like riding a skateboard, more a matter of balance than of creating.

In my poetry, I have a chance, because it holds still, to go back and edit. That means usually either a complete delete - no good - or the change of a word or two, sometimes a line. I am forced to delete or skip posting no more than one in ten. I have no idea how the form comes, but I do know that I don't decide before I start. I write quickly, as if the poem is another kind of music I play.

When I improvise on keyboard, I am held back by my level of competence, but within that I have no idea where I'll go or how I'll come back, just that I have the confidence to usually accept the "wrong" notes and the changes they force, and that when it's time or I need to I can find the way home. A couple posts back I wrote that I don't get lost too easily. That's true in the music too.

Now I should come clean that these prose spots are heavily edited and added and subtracted, not at all the same experience as the poetry.

These poems speak entirely for themselves.


This tree grows right here,
Nowhere else, but others grow
All around the world.

If I were to tell you this,
Try to make you say so too,
I would start to fade
Despite my true driving
Dream of unity.

Eating Prayers

Embodied knowledge-
Never less than two wide views,
Colored vistas, skew.

I swim very well
Among the rocks, wade the bars
Seeking shells of life.

Then I return home,
Brush away the gritty sand
And eat my prayers.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Present, Love's Long Lake

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, when I was posting the most finished of my older poetry, I had a lover/muse once. That was over in 2001. I have over a hundred poems from that time, all love poems and it is still easy for me to write them when I have the right inner space. Now I write to the lover in my heart since I do not have one and haven't for a few years. The two I post here are those kind of poems, and they arose I suppose out of nostalgia.

I think of myself as a married man. I married one time, was married over twenty years, would still be married were that possible. The thing about living single, I wish for the companionship of one woman but know that all my women have had the same complaint at one point or another, that they don't know why I love them. I am too singular and self contained, and they are confused, not understanding where they fit in. So I refuse to rush in. I have found no one that seems possible and I have begun to think I probably won't.

But my power is lessened in some way.


You bestow on me
This moment, this chance to love,
This pure white blossom
Of heart and song, tone and rhyme.

I also bestow on you
My few gifts, too few
For my liking and too poor,
Yet I'm here, my love.

Love's Long Lake

I wish I knew you
Like I know the stones I pick,
The sidearm skimmers
That dance across the water
In the play of light and waves,
Then happy to sink
At last into the deeper
Heart of love's long lake.

I believe I was gazing at a photo of a flower, a white rose probably, in relation to that first poem. The second arose out of a wilderness photo of a lakeshore.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Corkscrew, In Between

This first poem really is three poems that relate to each other but come from different places. First, the Man of the Northern Wall is a mage and power behind the throne of a queen, much as Merlin was behind Arthur. That is the sense of the Magic. There are limits even at the best of times because the age of true magic is in the Golden Age of archetype, or the Dream Time of the Australian aborigines, or the before times of any cultures. In other words, full power magic was in the world prior to the world of history. Even the most powerful mage is limited in historical time.

Then there is Coyote, one of my favorite gods, almost not a god, he is such a screw up. Often he is hilarious, sometimes stupid, sometimes brilliant. He has a kind but self centered heart and can be cruel, even mean it. In short he is as tangled up as we are.

The last verse goes from a touchy task to the fact that we can all fall from high enough to hurt, and this at any time.

And I mean it. There is something in me that is so arrogant that I think I can save the world.


If I were Magic
And Magic was as I dream
Then so much would change.

Coyote is the teacher,
Shows the corkscrew way of things.

To thread the needle
Takes courage, wit, hollow bones,
Or else you fall, break.


Yesterday over at mole Dale posted a prose poem about being stretched between the dock of desire and heaven's boat, how that might cause you to fall into the water. I replied that in AA we often say, "if you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you're pissing all over today". Here's another in between.

In Between

Between the stony
Walls, so close, I find the tree,
Twisted ancient tree.
It lives as if all is sane.

It lives as if I love you.

I too live between
My stony heart, my rock hard
Mind, in this long day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bird Dog Like Cunning, Effective Prayer

This next poem is a true story of my early years, not even first grade. I have never been lost on the planet even though men can screw the directions up in cities. But Berkeley, California around the university was in the nineteen-forties laid out in a logical grid.

One day I wandered off following my favorite neighbor dog, an Irish setter as I recall, who led me on a day long wander through the city before outpacing me somehow. I was in a part of town south of the university I had never been before and pretty far from home for a five year old, but I could say to myself, "hills, university, town" and I knew where those were. I knew I lived partway up the hills.

So I just walked home looking for something familiar. I never found anything familiar, and I finally came to rest in the hills. I sat on one of the concrete benches placed for pedestrians to rest on. It was already full dark. I was now really close to lost but don't remember panicking. My mom came up the sidewalk steps looking for me, just out of her mind. I had been gone perhaps eight hours by then. When she appeared through the hedge I said, "Momma, I've found you!"

It turned out I was two blocks from home but up the hill. I had nearly found my way back just using my sense of direction.

Bird Dog Like Cunning

Bird dog like cunning
My Momma said of me then,
So small wandering

Anywhere, free in the hills
Of Berkeley, on the campus,
Down Strawberry Creek.

I never get lost, not in


Back in the late sixties, when I was a Hippie, I was convinced that if a certain number of us experienced an Awakening, the world would change. I was sure that the saving of the world was going to be an inside job, a change in spirit, and that we human critters were in over our heads in a tangle of our own devising. I was rooting for that change to take place.

To me, the impulse toward Awakening seemed to be under all the political protests and the psychedelic ones too. It was about saving the world in a spiritual way. A revival... How American can you get? We hold revivals regularly. I believe the sixties were a kind of revival movement too, but a "pagan" one. However it should be remembered about this revival, that the kids who were Hippies came from Christian families, lived in a Christian culture, and our instincts were Christian instincts, even if we toyed with alternative forms of spiritual living. Hedonism is a spiritual trip too and had formal expression in ancient Greek culture. The educated Greek culture is the other heritage along with the Hebrew informing the spirit of Christendom.

Effective Prayer

The music draws me
Into the dance where you are
And gifts me with form.

So we twine, complicated
Shapes. We draw others to us.

Dozens, hundreds, more
Until we reach that moment.
Then God moves the world.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Alone, Life In The Fast Lane

We are rapidly melting now, but the ridges of shoved aside snow at the intersections are killer. Because I dug the driveway out, the piles alongside are three feet deep still, after two days of melt. I hope that I will be able to drive okay tomorrow. I am tired of depending on the good will of others, though I know that allowing people the chance to do something for me may be a gift to them. So I was taught in AA, by experience on both sides of that issue.

So imagine a summer landscape, a cross country hike, reaching a hill with a solitary tree. Imagine how it must be to be so alone, year after year.


Singular fierce tree
Once one seedling, a small grove,
Only this one left
In the thirsty land atop
This windswept dry yellow hill.

Long ago old grief
For lost sisters is now deep
Roots in older rocks.


Here is another journey in the imagination. This is the man I could have been had Ann not stared me down one day and said I had to change. Well, not this guy but just as empty, just as lost and broken, with ashes in my mouth, the taste of an empty life realized.

Ann was trying to save her life too. This confrontation point was her latest move at that time, January, 1983, in trying to get me to be the man she needed. I responded every time she pushed but couldn't seem to ever really change toward her way. That's a whole other story.

Life In The Fast Lane

I was born to run
Away, away from myself,
From you, forever
Running on knotted sore feet,
Bleeding, using broke down knees.
I'm ever looking
For an easy soft green land
Where I can stop, rest.
I'm ever looking
For someone to really trust,
For the real me, you.
Not much left of me.
Running on empty, no breath
To pray for true peace.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I have no poems directly relating to Christmas. What I can say is this. In the last several days the Portland Metro has been dumped on with record amounts of snow and ice. Becuause we are so temperate, the cities and counties cannot justify the fleets of heavy equipment, the manpower and supplies that dealing with this emergency requires. In other parts of our nation, much worse happens routinely, and so it is a given that civic responsibility demands the investments in the essentials to keep the city and county commerce flowing. Here the story is otherwise. It has forced the gathering of communities. I belong to AA, and the presence of that fellowship in my life has proved a God sent blessing at this time. The few times I have needed to get out and about, there has been someone with a better suited vehicle to provide my transport.

I am so well supplied by my good habits of keeping a home that all the essentials are currently at hand. It is primarily my connections with others in my life that I might lack without the transportation. And so even though the ice ruts are so high that my car couldn't pass even if I had chains at certain locations, I still get to connect with people that I love. All is well.

Tomorrow we will gather in feasting and fellowship in the fellowship hall next to the room where my home group AA meeting is held. The church will not be using the space, but AA meets every day of the year and especially on these days, which pose special difficulty in lives devastated by alcohol and dope. We huddle for warmth and love. The church that we use has allowed AA to be there for over a decade now, 365 days a year. On our part, we are self supporting, and pay an honest rent. When we do these special things, we pay extra rent, and we police ourselves as well, cleaning as we go. This might not seem like much but organizing alcoholics is very much like herding cats.

Even though I am an orphan due to the natural consequence of aging, my life is full and good. I hope that my new found friends here in the blog universe will find themselves as blessed as I have found myself.

May you all experience the peace and love that is the promise of the season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Musician, Shaman

As a musician, I am undisciplined in some of the critical ways. I know how to read all the musical symbols, can even use a program called PrintMusic to write or transcribe a musical score. I cannot to save my life actually read music, what they call "sight read". It's a bit of an embarrassment because I function musically at what I call a professional level both on guitar and on keyboard, but with severe shortcomings in so many areas.

But when I set at the keyboard and let go, accepting the limitations and using discipline to stay within them, then the music I make is just as good as anyone's. I know this, but I am so freaking weird about my limitations and fearful of your judgments. Those attitudes are in themselves a serious lack of discipline.


When I sit at my keys
And let these hands go as if
They belonged to her

I feel her breath. It soothes me.
I choose a voice to reach her.

I know she listens.
I feel the catch in her breath.
My music shines, shines.


There is always a price to pay. The path to power is especially sacrificial. The Native American Sun Dance does not surprise me in its harshness and lies far beyond my capacity. I have known one man personally who has taken the piercings and hung in the sun.

The modern scientific world puts strong positive energy into denying the possiblity of shamanic power, much to the diminishment of mankind. It forces some of us into byways, cracks, crevices, onto the edges of things. We must do this even though we may have talent, and even calling for shamanic roles. The shamanic roles are traditional ones, protectors of the tribe and healers of its members, but not from mundane trouble. There is a spirit realm too. It is this realm that counts.

If the shamanic roles are traditional, ancient, it follows clearly that some of us are born for these roles, and have the talent for them. Now of course people like this if exposed in unfortunate ways are thought quite ill.

The spiritual realm is denied by so many now. That denial adds a special discipline because defensiveness saps shamanic power even as social stigma does. And as ever, the presence of manipulators who pretend to power for personal gain gives the forces of denial a strong place to stand. Who can argue with protecting the social milieu against charlatans and superstition?


I go to those woods
Seeking strength and purity
As you told me to.

In the glade I found, I lie
Crucified by memory.
I take shallow breaths.

Pierced, bleeding, the price: my life
To become myself.

Birds In The Dogwood

These are two of the dozen or so goldfinches who are hanging around my sunflower seed feeder.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Acceptance, Look Past Me

Why do I have the spider theme? I have no idea. There was something going on in the blogs I follow though.

Today was a remarkable snow day which put the Portland Metro area weather into third place for the most accumulation of snow and ice ever in its own history. This is clearly not the stuff that Maine is made of, or Chicago, but it paralyzes us because it is so rare. We didn't have any last year. I spent my morning digging out so I could maybe go somewhere.

Actually, I thought that perhaps I could get to a Les Schwab and get chains so I could go to work. But they shut work down for the rest of the year or until we really thaw out. What was happening, the snow was coming down the whole time, so five hours of digging and I was complete, except there was an inch of fresh snow trailing behind me. By the end of the day it didn't really look like I had dug out. I had to take two naps to recover.


Yarn spinner, small one,
Spider master tale teller.
It is your nature.

I bow, I bow. This
Is my nature, to accept
You and your fine silk.

It is how we are, good friend.
Now it's time for golden tea.

Look Past Me

Look past me, good friend.
Follow my sight line within.
Become transparent.

Walk through the misty curtain.
Feel the wake of your passage.

Then cherish your light
As if it were delicate,
A fragrant white rose.

Indeed, I am convinced that the problem of world peace is individual and requires fundamental changes of inner state. I would call that inner state "consciousness" except that I truly think that feelings, willfulness, sense of power, and many other things that might not actually require consciousness in any normal sense are involved. One friend of mine said his theology is "we either ALL go to heaven or we don't". I really like that, sort of a country western way of expressing the Bodhisattva ideal.

Bodhisattva is a buddha who lives the vow that he or she will not leave the planet until all sentient creatures can go too. A great many Buddhists take that vow as part of their practice.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Spinning, Encounter

It has been a difficult day, the first day of winter, with snow, then freezing rain, then snow, and now another layer of freezing rain. There is 8" of frozen stuff on the ground. There will be more before morning.

Why do I write? It is certainly an inner space that I uncover. I do not know what I am going to say at the start. I get some idea, these days, usually the first line or something that becomes the first line...then the rest develops somehow. Thus, the stories I tell I tell to myself first.

I have an old friend Christine who said that early American artists were limners. They line and illumine. Thus in this next poem "line" is not like a coat lining (unless you like that better) but line as in drawing lines.


The stories I tell,
Only I really listen.

I see you spin yarns
Like me. We are small spiders
With long silver silken threads.

We line the blue sky.
We line the wide horizon.
Yes! We line ourselves.


I am a stubborn obstreperous man sometimes, and especially when I was younger. And a know-it-all besides. I'm amazed that anybody likes me...well, I've been working on it...


So I stood glaring,
Staring him down if I could.

Square in the wide eyes
I sent my steely cold gaze.

I found no end to him, none.
I could not quite breathe.

He touched me then. They pierced me,
His unblinking eyes.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Did Not Die, The Plea

I am a spiritual man, live a serious life. I was taught that I, as a recovering alcoholic man, do not have a choice. Sometimes my poetry will reflect this.

I Did Not Die

Why do you chase me?
All I did, not important.

Walk among the groves
As I do, catch the bronze sun
Rays dancing through God's green leaves.

Do not feed me. I am past,
Solemn, ancient, an antique.
See my long gray beard.


How many of us have asked God to show Himself? I know that many alcoholics on the edge of getting sober will demand that God do something. The stories of what happens next are various. God either does or does not show Himself and yet how that happens leads these people to get sober long enough to tell their stories.

Sometimes I am sure that I don't really write these poems but instead transcribe them, channel them. I am not sure why it used to take me at least several hours to write poems and now often only fifteen minutes, even less, like they already have been written and only need be remembered.

The Plea

Oh God! Show Yourself!
But who am I to ask this?
I stand isolate.

Beneath the crest of this hill
I kneel and raise gnarly arms
As if a stripped tree,
As if a long cloudy sky,
As if no longer.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Reading, Spoken For

Tarot cards...I have cycled near and far for decades and have mostly settled down in the distance. When I engage in spiritual matters, I usually find my practice is a daily thing, at least for some length of time. It was my experience with Tarot that the space of the cards got spooky in daily practice. I do not mean that they would get spooky for you or some other person, but that they did for me was a strong signal that Tarot is not my metaphysical system. It is basically closed to me. Yet Tarot would not have touched me like that without power coming from somewhere.


I lay the cards down
Cruciform and quadriform
And pray my question
Will pass the gate of tempests
And demons commanding, "Halt."

This way is razor's
Edge. It calls for purity
And the jazzman's grace.


I do love a good fantasy. I love worlds formed with different rules. Indeed. What is the matter with a bird who can land in your brain, a bird who was once the brocade on a magic robe? This poem was the first in this current poetry cycle (begun last August) to really break from my current haiku form into something else, though the lines are all 5 and 7 syllables long still.

Spoken For

The bird who landed
In my brain was an omen.

Bright clad, noisy, smug,
Outspoken, big beaked, smelly,
A notably sacred bird.

That bird was brocade
On the robe of a master
Before he found me,
Ate through my skull, and nested.

His voice changed my soul.

He flew away to proclaim
My presence. I train.
Smelly bird indeed. The hole
Was drafty inside.
Be careful of a master's
Power robe. I am.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Grail, Accepting Grace

I grew up a couple blocks from Glen Seaborg in his early years, long before he became the federal government scientist in charge of the nuclear facilities, head I think of the Atomic Energy Commission. He was a scientist and professor at Cal Berkeley and I was a wee bit older than his son. So we played, I guess. My Mom was a speech teacher at Cal also, knew Glen in that way. I don't remember all that much, but I do remember Dr. Seaborg.

I was also (third grade) already reading science fiction that my dad had around the house, and that same year there was a comic book classic that came out teaching about atomic energy so I learned about that in third grade too - mid fifties this was. In school I did well in math and science too. So with all that, I am not only trained in engineering (applied science) but in the theoretical as well - except I utterly failed to get past basic calculus, the math of inexactitude. That fried my brain. So I don't have the math for quantum physics, even though I can "talk" it.

On the other side of my brain, I am this hopeless poet, beieve in magic, love fantasy worlds, actually secretly believe I come from one when the moon is right...and seriously follow theology, as well as I am committed to live a spiritual life.

The Grail

There is a secret to be found,
The first truest principle,
Born in the first instant
Along with the whole,
All the possibilities
Of all the worlds.

This principle is so
That no particular application
Of it is possible.

...poeticism after George Polya


Accepting Grace

Grace showed me herself
A day ago? I forget when.

Hard remembering
The silken flow, her ghost light,
The whole caress of her breath
On my tired frame.

I was not ready for her.
But I never am.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Practice, Aeons

My maternal grandfather, Hartog Phillipus Noordwal (HP), was a mining engineer who participated in the Alaska gold rush, an ink drafter, a calligrapher, a one time cadet of the Dutch Military Academy, an alcoholic, a difficult husband to his alcoholic wife, a man fond of the classics, a Mason who hated Catholics. He named his children Phillipus, Hypatia, Penelope. He married an English lady, one Millicent Dunton. For a time they were on the road in Vaudeville, Millie had a voice. He lost his hearing in a swimming accident and subsequent infection. That is why he was never an officer in the Dutch military. When I knew him I was fascinated with his calligraphy. He would walk around the house saying under his breath "Oh brother brother brother brother" which would come out due to his Dutch accent, "Oh Budda budda budda budda".


A quiet old man
At his desk picks a quill pen
And makes a bold stroke.

Using his vermilion ink,
He writes a single true word.
He scatters sand, sighs.
Patiently, he waits, listens.

Birdsong through windows.


As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am sensitive to the Chinese influences that have been in my life, a student of I Ching. Practice takes a little of that flavor (or if you like of the Japanese). So does the next poem.


I came from one stone,
Egg of holy mother earth.
I rose mountainous.

I lived in the misty clouds
Above pandas and bamboo.

I left long ago,
Changed countries, shrank and split open,
Two stones, side by side.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ch'i, Memory

The Chinese speak of Ch'i. Hindus have a variety of names. A very large portion of the planet, including the Celtic peoples considered lines of force in the body, in the world. Kirlian photography is cited as a way to see auras, which are in some sense visible manifestations of these lines of force. I don't really care if it is true or not. Mainstream science doesn't seem to care either, mainly I think because no one can figure out what to do with it even if it is true in a scientific sense. Yet in what Jung called archetypes, in that place, there is no doubt that lines of force are embedded in the archetypal experience, and that it is universal in human inner space.

And of course the fields of electromagnetism are physical analogues of this inner experience. I read somewhere in the philosophy of science that all the basic scientific theories are based on visions and experiences that arise out of intimate human experience - that we will never have the capacity to break out beyond that.

This includes in a deep sense even quantum mechanics. There is no way that we really have an objective view. We have methodologically and mathematically controlled intersubjective self consistent views. There really is a big difference.

There is a first principle behind all this, that we can actually trust our sensory experience, when it is controlled by logic, rationality, and mathematics to be an adequately correctible map of objective territory. The feedback of our procedures has been tremendous continual success. It is almost certainly so that we can trust this process, but an ever smaller jury is by the nature of the process still out and will probably continue to be.

Ch'i is inner experience of inner space, and not a proper scientific subject because of that.


I nest within you
Never outside you, never
Beyond your sweet glow.

I feel the rising rhythm
Of your song all around me.

This is like fish in
Warm blue alpine lakes, birds in
Green summer breezes.


The next poem is a true story, a moment in my life that changed my life. My parents never knew. They were aiming for behavior modification and they got it. I guess they felt a certain success. I never burdened them with the truth.

The truth was that they taught me to hate. I had never had occasion to hate before that. My behavior modified not because of their techniques but because I had to withold my true emotion at great risk if I did not. Even in fourth grade I knew enough to know that hatred of Mom and Dad was very private experience, not to be shared. There was a kind of "uh-oh", a kind of being on the edge of a cliff. I have never had fear of heights but I have always respected them.

In my teen years of course, that hatred started hormonally slipping out sideways and my parents paid the price. I too paid the price. My separation was not pretty, full of rebellion and deliberate refusal to grow up. Then drugs. I am an alcoholic man. At nearly 26 years sober I know the first turning point was fourth grade.


I remember me
Then, standing in lonely doors
Staring at my Mom
Who was hoping my Dad knew
Who was hoping my Mom knew
And me hoping too.

In fourth grade I learned to hate.
It broke my young heart.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Attracting Trolls, Planetary Dream

I just received a very kind comment on my last post saying that I am improving. I am not sure that Julie meant it quite like that, but since these poems are being posted chronologically, each new poem appearing is a result of daily writing, and also the interaction that I have with the other sites I visit. There are some terrific poets out there. This proves the situation with poets is similar to that with musicians. Truly fine musicians and poets are not necessarily well known.

Attracting Trolls

Maybe in deep cover -
Undercover quiet trolls,
Special agent trolls,

Trolls as spies, as sneaks, as mean
Underhanded rotten jerks.

Oh no, I'm not one,
Not like that, not me, no no!
I try to be nice.

I don't know how many others have had the experience of suffering someone sure he or she knows what is best. There always seems to be someone lurking who is willing to have a strong opinion about that. One can only pray that person has also learned that most people resent being told what to do. If that person is often right, well, then only if I am unusually mature in that encounter do I escape getting even more angry about it. I know I not the only one. In AA, filled as it is with a high concentration of people allergic to receiving good advice, especially unsolicited, there is constant training offered in "mind your own business", though it is said, "take your own inventory." That is because it is remarkably common that those allergic to receiving are quite often happy to be giving great advice.

Planetary Dream

I am not lost, no.
How dare you say so?
I choose aimlessness!

To wander in large circles
Is a special joy for me.

I like this so much,
This elfin spin of time, earth,
I'll do it again.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Textual Intercourse, Force

The snow has fallen lightly but steadily all day. I had stuff to do here, didn't go anywhere today. Untangled the computer. Learned more about my novice digital camera. Did this and that. Let my cat stay house warm (instead of open garage warm). Learned a little more about Blogger.

I believe in words, even perhaps spells. I would be careful with that, though. I make my living as an engineer, am trained in science and mathematics. If I say I am a shaman, I might mean something a little different than someone without that training might mean.

Textual Intercourse

I roll in the hay
Of your mind and my words spread
Fragrance far and wide.

Gracious words reach deep, transform
The waste into starry hope.

Then we come awake,
Shining starlit eyes display
Love, strength, deeper truth.

I am not an idealist either, though I prefer dreams and visions and fantasy. I don't follow Plato. But I love stories. Then I turn to the people in my life and they save me, bring me back.


I wield a strong sword
With all the force of my dreams.
It cuts my own heart.

You appear, see the fresh wound
And sew it closed with new thread.

This is how you save
An odd old man from acting
As an odd old troll.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holding Still, Crooked House

Looking hard at really cold weather for this neck of the woods. Was just out in it and can feel it coming. I think it's going to be colder than any time last year. This first poem goes back to the marigolds still in bloom this year. I have wild marigolds. They reseed every year and come up across my front yard. I am happy with that, even with the tiny wild pansies that still survive from years ago when I had several nursery pansies planted. They seeded too. What comes up looks nothing like the nursery pansies.

Holding Still

I hold still for you,
So still that flowers speed by,
Marigolds racing.

I hold so still that my cat
Forgets me and goes her way.

Even more still, I
Forget me and leave my mind
To find your true heart.


I saw a crooked birdhouse and thought what it would be like to live there.

Crooked House

I am at a loss.
Why is our house so crooked?
I've tried to be nice.

Stepping outside is awkward
With so long a drop right there.

I pick at itches
Under my feathers and pray
You will come back home.

Perhaps I am wrong, but it is my experience that women don't put up with just anything...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nine Bee Lines, Centrist

I have completed the layout of the Ritz packaging line. This is a complicated process which takes a semi regular scattering of crackers and gathers them into the wrapped columns that are found in each box, and then the boxes are gathered into cases and wrapped for shipping. This process takes several machines and quite a bit of floor space used carefully to allow for the interactions of humans with machines that are required at certain critical points. I didn't really have the long and skinny space that works best, and so I had to shoehorn stuff in. I think it is a credible layout. I am a worker bee.

Nine Bee Lines

It's hexagonal,
A six sided agony
Of plan and effort.

Life in the flight path
Makes my wing muscles sting, ache
With the heat of work.

I am not suited
For the apian disguise.
I am too heavy.


Back in 1966 the guy who got me high on acid the first time strongly suggested to me that Taoism was important to the likes of me. He was right, but what was more right was one of the ancient Chinese classics, I Ching. I actually parlayed my intensive study of I Ching into part of my college degree. I established that this Chinese classic presented a metaphysical system as well as a psychological one and as such was a legitimate college level study. This worked and contributed to my getting the degree. The next poem works with a Taoist image.


I'm wound up, spiral
Incarnate, stripped of foggy
Central illusions.

The old master said
The wheel's main utility
Is the axle hole.

I look within me
Past the swoop of spiral shape -
Holy Nobody,

Or Everyone,
All wondrous life appearing.
All are shining holes.

So you see how Haiku can be played with and turned into another poetic form. I am using Haiku structure, but these poems are not Haiku.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Crayon Love, The Carved Block

Wow. What a day. At work I am trying to lay out a whole new Ritz packaging line and I really don't have enough room but maybe with enough clever twisting and innovative thinking I can get close enough to a working layout that my boss will see a way. Our first try didn't work. This one is much harder...

And a new internet friend was worried that she didn't understand what I had been trying to say. Then after I explained she said, "Oh I get it, you're a pacifist. That's totally okay with me." Well it's okay with me that people might think that because I really am close to that, but I am really not a pacifist, not with all the implications of that political stance.

Hmmm. What am I? Well perhaps that is what these poems are about. I choose to post two at a time because I write two or more of them a day. This started in August and I am riding this horse until it quits. I am about 200 poems ahead of myself, and I am posting oldest first. This way my internet friends who have seen them before may not remember them very well. I am writing from the cracks and edges of me, looking for an out. Or maybe I am writing from the core of me, looking for a way in. Maybe there is no difference in these assertions.

Crayon Love

If the door opens
Into sketches in crayon
Colors, who comes out?

Or shall I walk in never
To be seen by you again?

I nearly lost me
In rainy chaos coming
To these odd questions.


The truth of that particular day was I really did nearly wreck on the road because of a hard rain.


So on this same day I felt pinched by my own realities. I don't think I'm the only one. My life has turned out entirely different from what it looked like it would.

I was once married over twenty years, had every expectation that we would have retired as a couple in just a couple years from now, having lived a "dink" life, and having a "dink" retirement.

Instead my wife fell into a complex of illnesses and trumped my alcoholism in spades when she started to drink to die. She wiped out all of the retirement, and while I kept the house, on the way there were two refinancings to master the debt that kept overwhelming our budget. And so when we finally divorced, there was nothing left for my future, and she lived on the retirement money until it ran out, then died in her fifties back in 2001.

She died alone in an apartment in Columbus Ohio that she was no longer going to be able to pay for, was not found by her sister for a couple days, was found in the fetal position on the far side of the bed from the bedroom door, not easy to see. The autopsy called it kidney failure. It was actually depression and alcoholism perhaps the most lethal of addictions, and a sloooow way to go. Well, actually eight years of dying is rather quick as alcoholism goes.

Her sister tells me that she loved me to her dying day. Me her too.

So my life is unrecognizable by me.

The Carved Block

I am carved beyond
All reason, all hope, return
To you impossible.
Once this was all right with me.

Today autumn rain told me
To reconsider.

I shall take my leave, admit
To eyes slightly damp.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Decapitation, Trap Door

I was just asked to clarify myself in matters of crime, punishment, justice. This is so very difficult. Mostly I stay with mercy and love. My experience is that justice is seldom achieved on the planet, at least not as meted out by men. Not on fields of honor, not in the courts, certainly not on the battlefield.

I saw an internet video of a snake head, bodiless, a viper, who was still trying to defend itself as it died not so quickly. It broke something inside me.


If I was a snake
With just my head left because
Evil took the rest,

I would snap and snap, fading,
Hating, calling on my God.

I would possibly
Ask for vengeance, possibly
For peace, forgiveness.


We are all condemned. Life is a sentence of death. Yet it is not only that.

Trap Door

In the last long time
Before, condemned, I drop through
The final trap door,

I recall all the answers
I've ever given, lies, truth.

But I ask you now
In gentle light, in true love,
And asking saves me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I am sometimes as old as the hills, older. Not wiser. The first time I understood the "long body" concept, it was through Maurice Nicoll in his book Living Time. If you gather all time and observe the solar system from beginning to end it looks very different from the pictures we see in books. It looks different even from the way it looks with the addition of the third dimension to the picture. This is because the planets move in time as well as space. The sun itself moves in a path. The lines of this travel through time and space describe the long body. You could say the same thing of every life, that there is a long body from birth to death.

The Long Body

In my long body
Twining through stony old time
I gain a vision.

I hear the songs of mountains
As they rise in harmony.

They witness and grieve
The slow grinding sliding slope-
Steep crags to low hills.


Sometimes I am scattered. Even so things tend to work out.

Heart Moon

Like rooms in a house,
I walk through gray tender thoughts
Of my long chased dreams.

Under the porch lie the strays
That rattle like angry snakes.

In my daylight hills
God moves, and coyotes move too.
My heart moon rises.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Climbing The Mountain, Dragon Dreams

In the Wilhelm/Baynes translation of I Ching at one point Richard Wilhelm points out that there is something joyless and ponderous about the self taught, one of the risks of not learning in public or at least in tandem. I have some experience with this challenge and tend to agree.

Climbing The Mountain

I was self taught, then
Found the good friends who changed me.
I am much lighter.

As I have climbed the mountain,
I too have earned a small grace

Which I wear close cropped
As the beard on my face, as
The joy in my heart.


I do play well with others. I know it so. Still I need much time to myself, more I am sure than most. I was an only child and learned solitary pursuits at quite a young age. So I tend to be a loner. I have finally in the last couple years lived alone, well not quite since I have a cat, and my backyard studio is rented by a friend of twenty years. I am not lonely, even in the nooks and crannies of my secret soul. This is okay.

It has crossed my mind that dragons are mostly loners too.

Dragon Dreams

If my backbone rose
Into thin air, was snowy
And stiff with such age,
I would have smoky breath too.

Instead I am mild mannered,
With secret desires.

I wish a set of long claws,
And green glowing scales.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Free Tunes, Harsh Times

What - nine lines? Oh... three linked haikus. They can stand alone. They don't, but it is a strange story. By the way, is the Recluse actually a spider?

Free Tunes

I have a coupon.
It was stashed in my old boot
Next to the Recluse.

I shook my boot out.
The Recluse scuttled away
To my other boot.

The coupon says, “Free
Tunes are yours for the asking!”
So now I’m asking.

This one is a true story, a rude event, a sad heart. There are many squirrels in our neighborhood and generally they are way too clever to have any trouble even though there are many cats in the neighborhood as well. I am happy to have squirrels who are not vermin in my world, since I have nothing that they bother. Even the birdfood I put out. They can't get there.

Harsh Times

At the garage door
Displayed full length, headless squirrel
Bathed in autumn sun.

Not my cat, she's way too old.
A gift from some visitor.

My heart breaks at times -
Thinking from the squirrel's view
Of fangs sinking in.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bewildered By Fate, In The Meantime

Poetry is not always serious, in fact you might make the case it seldom is, no matter how serious it sounds. I grew up in fantasy and science fiction, and while I am not really a reader now, have not read it since I can't remember, I still have the mind for it. I am just as happy in the world Ursula LeGuin created in Left Hand of Darkness and Frank Herbert created in Dune. So sometimes I let my poetry fly to places other than here...

Bewildered By Fate

Bewildered, I gaze
All about, consider fate,
Worry that I might fall.

I am yellow, no really,
And somewhat weird, fuzzy too.

I am shaken, stirred,
And stranded atop granite.
Sometimes worlds are hard.
What if I were a rubber duckie fuzzed up and yellow, sitting on a boulder somewhere in the wilderness? The thing is, it is not original but from a photo the Starfish of Motel Zero posted. So who is weirder, the guy who writes a poem like this or the guy who takes the photo...

Here's another thing can happen. I'm a nice guy. I believe I am honest and straight up. I go to work and my boss is a guy I have known since 1983, working in the same company together or for him in his own company for most of that time. We hold key cards that admits us into corporate America as symbiotes, small fleas on the belly of the beast. We give engineering, design and construction service to the industrial bakery that employs us. But I wasn't always straight up, though I was always kind of nice, and honest in my way. I do however possess a criminal mind. It is very good that I get to express it sometimes.

In The Meantime We do Mean Time

Ho! so quick, so frayed,
I sneak behind you and steal
Your holy beads of time.
I have a small withered heart.

And no empathy, no care.
I race off to stash
Your precious time in holes
Then I forget where.
There was a squirrel in my dogwood tree with a mouthful of unshelled walnut. He knew I was outside, close by, watching, but he really had no choice. There is something about a mouthful of walnut that forces things. It is really awkward. So I watched him climb down the tree and stop right beneath it. He dug a hole and stashed that nut right in front of me. Then he took off across the sidewalk, paused, then dashed across the street, up the pole and off down the telephone wire highway. Me, I knew he was going to forget he did that. Maybe she. There was too much going on at the time. No walnut seedling has appeared, so maybe the squirrel did remember. Anyway, the image of stashing my loot in holes is courtesy of that squirrel.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Primordial Soup, Only The Driver Hears

There is a back story, no? There is truth even where there are not facts. If I can turn into pig iron it is certainly no difficult feat to remember the

Primordial Soup

Primordial soup,
Essential goo, slippery
Fluid smearing me.

I've been squeezed hard. I recall.
I've been whacked. I gasp, I breathe.

I give such a squall.
It breaks bonds of memory
And I lose my home.
But as I wrote, the memories from before the soup are another matter entirely.

In Zen there are these conundrums called koans. So I thought one up and realized something.

Only The Driver Hears

The horse is not me.
The cart is also not me.
Driver in thin air.

Or the horse is really me.
And the cart is really me.

Unknown, forgotten -
I am the smaller third lost
In dreams of wholeness.

If I recall correctly this image came from reading about Gurdjieff on the day I wrote the poem, and the horse and driver are his images.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Perspective, Pig Iron

This day was a happy day for me. It was the day I realized I could play with the outer form and keep the inner structure, the 5 and 7 syllable lines. I am fascinated with the way word choices lengthen and shorten lines. I can do all this because I am not after all really writing haiku, just using the form for my own devices.

I need to write of Lynn Redgrave Cat, who has lived with me most of her life. She is a part Siamese who once had a longhaired sister, also part of our family until she passed years ago. Lynn is 17 now. She had a house brother, Philip Berrigan Cat (Berr) who passed at 18 a year ago. Their elder house brother Raggedy Blue died a bit earlier at 23. When an old cat appears in my poetry, it is the youngster Lynn I refer to.

I still had mycology in mind when I wrote Perspective. Pig Iron speaks for itself.


The soles of my feet
Warm where the many white threads
Of God attach me
To the Holy ground of Life.

I wear the crown He gave me.
The old cat who lives
With me is indifferent
To my ancient ties.


Pig Iron

Staring between bars,
My knothead keeps getting stuck.
Wanting to be free,
Over and over I try.

Then he comes, tells me, "Become
The cage, little friend."
Turning into pig iron,
I begin rusting.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Calling Crow, Obedience

The next two poems are interspecies. What if I were a crow? What if I were of all things a mushroom? Not like "I must be a mushroom 'cause they keep me in the dark and feed me bullshit". Not like that. Crows have inner lives. That's obvious. This particular mushroom I wrote about/turned into does too. There is a mushroom in the midwest and one in Oregon also. Each are huge, but not much shows. They both are nearly all underground. There are estimates of age too. These guys are ancient. How long does it take for mushrooms to achieve depth of soul? Never? I don't believe that.

Calling Crow

In the black and white
Of my world, remember red
And yellow and blue.

I am a crow on sand alone,
Pinched and hunched, and raggedy.

I have called before.
My soul returns to me my
Lemon memories.



Oh Lord, I am here.
Palest flesh, big intentions,
Uncounted children.

I really am so hidden.
Nearly nothing of me shows.

In the dim damp light
I have blossomed just for You.
I'm at Your service.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Illusion, The Bottom fell Out

Sometimes, I get all caught up. I don't think I'm the only one. Sometimes it feels like a forest fire or something, the way I simply have to react. Sometimes if I look around, there will be some sign that it might be me that's on fire. This time it was the crows.


Leave this world behind!
Get away, it's burning up!
Too hot to think, scream.

Must run as fast as the wind.
The burning chases me on.

My escape is all,
But look! The crows will not flee.
They sit motionless.


It is possible that disasters are not so bad. Just this evening, I listened to a man cry for the joy of getting his family back because he reached out after finding out he had terminal cancer. It was not only that. The story is complicated and not really mine to tell, but this part is real. I witnessed him be wide open about it. His daughter came to him after twenty years apart. He met his granddaughter for the first time. She is fourteen. Maybe later the fact of his cancer will crush him but right now he is overwhelmed with joy.

The Bottom Fell Out

Now I speak the truth,
Now that the bottom fell out.
The flame comes swiftly.

I glow more than ever now
And sprout egret's snowy wings.

Filled with holy heat
And lifting off this old earth
I will fly and fly.

I wrote this poem a couple months back, and it came up in normal rotation for posting today. A serendipity.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sad Light, Archery Lesson

Do you remember that special love? Can you be at peace within the memory?

Sad Light

The hole in my heart
She left me sometimes erupts
In spears of sad light.

Beauty’s grief rises, a gift-
A gentle burst of warm rain.

Within God’s Vision,
Within Love’s sweet pain I rise-
God calls. I walk on.

I think of Eros (Cupid). I cross that with the Zen master.

Archery Lesson

An arrow, fletched with soul
In true flight, like the bird flies
To her winter home.

Place it on my bow of love.
Pull the string to my left ear.

Hear my song within
The still archer's holding stance.
Let this dart fly free.

I have had more than one opportunity to love large. Oddly these were not the ones I married. I would have. There is something in me that propels me toward unattainable partners, even though I succeed for a time. Four times I chased the impossible ones, three as a young man, the fourth after a 20 year marriage ended. When I chose to marry there was something very practical about it. 23 years together and the last 20 married. I loved solid. I did not love large with wide open heart. I hope there will be another, but I don't chase.

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