Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Have Pulled That Nail, Passover

A musician learns the unfortunate lesson. If you want these unnatural actions to become natural, there is only one choice. Practice. Years of practice. Devotion. Not only practice as a mechanical action pattern but with devotion. In the end, you walk away from your old self into the new self fluent in the actions you have practiced, but it turns out that you never really leave the devoted practice behind.

I Have Pulled That Nail

I was born charming.
I write this sure I was charmed
for I have pictures.
I was fresh, even
spontaneous, and then you
undertook to train
me, set my wild life
on the civilizing track.
It has taken time.
You more or less won
the game of nailing me down,
one foot to the floor.

For some sixty years
I've been turning tight circles.

Now I think I've pulled that nail,
unwinding myself.

January 31, 2009 10:56 AM


There are troubles coming. It is hard to deny that there are troubles coming. I guess I am in a race now between my personal demise and some much bigger turmoil. I hope they both hold off for a little while. I must say, however, toward the end of the fifties we had the specter of nuclear war, later nuclear winter as the capstone of nuclear war. I don't hear much about that now, but it is still there as near as I can understand it, that the US and Russia have sufficient to destroy us all several times over, still in place and still with procedures in place too. So, in my lifetime since the fifties, the idea that humans will destroy themselves somehow has been a constant in my life. I looked for some relief. The only relief I have ever found is somehow, in some way dishonest and ultimately costs more than it is worth. Facing these realities seems the only option that works.


The eye of the Lord
is upon the land, I shake
to know I'm so close
to Him. His call sounds
piercing my soul and I drop
down to earth, ready
for His great talons,
hoping that if I lie still
He will pass over.

If I had more time
I would paint innocent blood
on my soul's soft gate.

January 31, 2009 5:03 PM


  1. I suppose we, humans, always have had the feeling we were living in end times, alongside the feeling we have all the time in the world. Those last three lines are a stunner.

    Welcome home!

  2. Christopher - These are both powerful poems. Passover is chilling.

  3. I like the idea of unwinding one's self. Odd you should mention music and its practice - it's what helped me free myself in the first place.

    Many people are concerned about the times to come. If I allow myself to think on it over much, I feel the need to huddle in my burrow where the great hunting birds can't find me...

    I have hope, though, that we will outlast our species' need to be violent.

    Beautiful and haunting words, sir. Thank you.

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  4. Brilliant pieces today Christopher!

  5. To truly offer validity to our writes it has to come from that purest of self. When one tries to bottle our individuality by imposing their view of our course, then we are left with a void.

    It's good to know that nail came out.

  6. Lucy, I guess living in end times means mainly not being able to see how what is going on comes out at all well. The passage from the fifties to here seems to be the story of how we keep threading the needle, just barely. Maybe it is not a needle and it is our sight that is narrowed. There is no question that the doomsday mechanisms exist. It seems that we got really close a couple times. Now we have other consequences approaching that appear to have their own agenda. I don't know if it matters a whit anymore that we have good survival instincts at the last minute. The last minute may already long have passed. But we don't know, nor do we know for sure that this warming thing is our doing. We have our opinions, some more informed than others. I side with the science on that, but I know that science is not only hard data. It is also best guess.

    Karen, you don't prefer predatory angels?

    Kyddyn, it is one way I found of viewing the civilizing process. It is not that my wildness is erased, but that it is tied down. It is encased and compressed. It leaks out, or it is released through disciplined channels. If it leaks out then that leakage may be unpleasant or not but will as probably be a torrent as a seep. If I accept a further constant dicipline I may construct a channel and find a source of energy available to accomplish much. This is the capstone state of the civilizing process. The pressure of wildness released in a controlled, civilized (meaning bound and thus clear) stream of accomplishment.

    That is precisely the map of training the artistic temperament. Marrying the idea of the musician with the idea of civilizing the wild energy is not so odd then. It is clear that imperfect training leads to the flamboyant lifestyles so often encountered with the presence of so much wild energy and also mastery of an instrument.

    Thank you for your light, Annie.

    I hope, Missy, if the nail is really out, that its history offers the same compressive force, or that I can find enough radical reliance on a power greater than myself that really works. I am too much capable of self destruction when I am set loose. I have bitter experience.

  7. I agree with Karen... Passover especially was breathtaking.

    As for the end times... we can either give in to fatalism and wait for The End, or we can do what we can, and try to stave it off bit by bit every way we know how. I'll take the second. :)

  8. Joseph, there are more than two possibiilities of response, I believe, as there are many ways to respond to the call of the impending disaster. Most of the paths are winding, and will lead one in directions not at all clearly constructive even though when you add serendipity, destiny, fate into the picture, things fall into remarkable place. In other words, I have a profound faith in the manifestations of powers not my own in this passage.

    I am convinced we will fail on our own power. All of us. If we were truly alone in this, I beleive that we are indeed all done and the really is only one family of responses, to wait creatively for the end to come. However we are not alone, never have been, however much it feels that way. Mother Earth is here, at least. She is friendlier than many believe, far more tolerant, or we would already be long gone.

  9. Ghost, Hmmm, as far as I know. All right. But not as far as you know?? Or not as far as my cat knows??? This is where the bodhisattva ideal comes in. If it is not all right as far as one of us knows, it is not all right for any of us. To me we are that intimately bonded, no matter what it feels like. A damage to one of us is damage to all of us.

    Therefore in so far as is possible work for the success of all sentient beings. You have no way of drawing any sure lines of separation between any of us on spaceship earth. And since you also have no sure idea what is better and worse in the longest run, then this is a prayer cycle mainly.

    All: By the way. Back a couple posts, I noticed that there were people who thought I wrote "prayer circle" when I wrote "prayer cycle". Cycle is not the same thing as circle as the words are typically used.

    A prayer cycle might have more than one prayer in it and may be tied to seasons of some kind, thus change in some way through time while remaining close to the same focus or related foci. Thus, while my prayer cycle which I started to keep me civilized while losing Frances I maintain to keep me civilized in general, but of course in the background I remember very well how this started. I also stand ready for the shift in seasons and thus the shift in either form or focus.

  10. I love these...came and read yesterday but haven't had the energy to comment.....I like what you said about your best poem being your next poem. It makes getting up worthwhile sometimes, you know?


  11. 'unnailed'

    really loved this image...


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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