Sunday, October 31, 2010

This Is Not Heavy

- Angel Falls, Venezuela

The Roots of Violence:
Wealth without work,
Pleasure without conscience,
Knowledge without character,
Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity,
Worship without sacrifice,
Politics without principles.
- Mohandas K. Gandhi

"Dreams are the touchstones of our character." - Henry David Thoreau

This Is Not Heavy

I wish I knew how
to say this bright change in me
to see how it is,
how you are, just two
letters reduced from the five
you've used all this time
and how the light shines,
backlights you standing beneath
the burden lifted,
as you place it safe
in the warm lap of sunset,
in my easy heart.

- Christopher
August 15, 2009 8:04 PM

Saturday, October 30, 2010


White Tiger

"Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired." - Erik H. Erikson

"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you." - Carl Sandburg

"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"Nothing else matters much -- not wealth, nor learning, nor even health -- without this gift: the spiritual capacity to keep zest in living. This is the creed of creeds, the final deposit and distillation of all important faiths: that you should be able to believe in life." - Harry Emerson Fosdick


I have been running
around, picking up shards, heart
shatters left behind
from you passing by.
I would rather broken grins,
perhaps hilarity
pieces scattered here
at the sleepy lake of dreams
or there under stars.

- Christopher
August 14, 2009 12:49 PM

Friday, October 29, 2010

Anchovy Test

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?" -Vincent van Gogh

"It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth -- and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up -- that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had." - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (Carlos Casteneda reported that the Brujo Don Juan Matus taught a similar message. You must live with Death on your left shoulder, close to your heart, if you are ever to become a man of power.)

"You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering." - Henri-Frederic Amiel

"There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation -- veneer isn't worth anything." - George Washington Carver

This poem draws on my first blog form, a form of Haiku in the count 5-7-5, 7-7, 5-7-5. Of course here it is 5-7-5, 5-7-5, 7-7. This form was a Japanese offer and response done off the cuff by two poets live and extemporaneous in a teahouse, a spoken form. I started blogging by following a couple blogs, of which one is still around, Motel Zero. f/zero aka Robinstarfish is a photographer, sells his own work and that's what he showcases now. In the days when I started he was writing haiku to go with the photos he was posting. The other fellow is off the blogs as far as I know. He is certainly off the blog he was writing then. I would post poems as comments and followed paths out from there, finding poets and leads to other blogs and yet more poets. After a few months, I decided to start my own blog. It was November 8 of 2008, my first post.

I don't think I would really like it much if the whole world tasted of anchovies.

Anchovy Test

The whole world tastes of
anchovies ever since you
left the main building
of the old campus,
the heart of my scholarship.
You claim it's a test.

I wanted to stop bluffing
or at least pretend I did.

August 14, 2009 12:30 PM

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Taking the night off. Telling the truth is damned hard work. Walking on the edge of the cliff requires vigilance and calm in the face of the winds. Stuff is going on. I am joining in the changes. I love you all.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Later Phases

Mi Diario, by Elena Dudina

beautiful life

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."- Soren Kierkegaard

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because some day in life you will have been all of these."- George Washington Carver

"You learn about equality in history and civics, but you find out life is not really like that."- Arthur Ashe

"There are two great rules of life: never tell everything at once."- Ken Venturi (think about this one...he didn't tell. I like this very much. Lord God, You know this is why I continue to blog, because I never say it all at once both because I cannot and would not if I could.)

Ken Venturi, a world class golfer, he recorded 14 PGA tour career wins over a couple decades and he won the US Open in 1964. He also became a sports color commentator, working for CBS 35 years, and ran a series of instructional schools.

Tonight's poem was written over a year ago to a friend who I shall not name. I am now of an age that I have friends of many ages, mostly not comparable to mine. It is a truth of aging that your people disappear. I am an orphan of course. Many people approaching the sixty-fifth birthday would be. My mother would be nearing 89 had she lived. She died approaching 80 and I live in her house. My father would have been older and my step-father nearing 85. He died at 76. I think my father died at around 80 as well. They are all gone. They all are all gone except a few cousins and cousins once removed and beyond. I believe there is an aunt once married to my half uncle still alive.

I love freely if I can, but I will chase no one, not any more. I haven't the energy, am not about to begin any big thing unless directly ordered by the One Who left us here. There's ways He can capture my attention, but as yet nothing. I have been praying steadily for years now, stating that He knows the state of my single life, the state of my need and I can rest in that, expecting He will fill what I actually need. What he has given me is a life in the blogs and a continuation in my profession and my service life. He has given me a life that is slowly diminishing in all ways. I have lost my singing but not my keyboard. I have not worked enough this year to break even, and though I have used up several thousand dollars, I am not broke either. My health is shredding but not seriously, not yet, even though I lost four months to a bad leg problem that wouldn't let me walk without considerable pain. That turned out to be a virus, an odd thing and my affected nerve is still damaged if pain free. I am losing things like a few teeth and good eyesight and a little hearing.

Because I am in AA, I have many friends with whom I share common ground of a sort, and at least one friend who is there for me close to daily. Because of these blogs I can count a few more who touch me daily, who might actually care should I stop posting. I have a readership. I know I do because the count is there.

Later Phases

Phases of the moon,
my heart's song shadows behind
the shifting sun's bright
white glare, the knife edge
of the shadow line passing
across my old skin.

I was placed like you
some time past amid questions,
chasing all the not
yet things still ahead,
coming awake filled with light
spilling out of me.

This is why I love
you now, the perfume you wear,
the songs on your breeze.

August 13, 2009 11:57 AM

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Here's The Sense Of It

This masterpiece is entitled

Silvia J.
  • Life is relationships; the rest is just details.- Gary Smalley

  • My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?- Charles Schulz

  • Life is something to do when you can't get to sleep.- Fran Leibowitz
And here is a former Roman Emperor. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the last of the "five good emperors". Here is an example of his philosophy. He was a Stoic. He was an amazing man and an example of what happens when a man of ability meets his destiny and does not rest but instead develops an inner life.
  • "Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid."- Marcus Aurelius
Ah, yes, I love Marcus, but still I have to ask, what's the sense of having a position if you can't flaunt it, just a little? That's the trouble with sainthood or becoming enlightened. The Taoists say the most enlightened people disappear from sight, or when they appear they don't look like much, looking rather like tramps or simple and poor old fellows (women too, I presume, unprepossessing crones) who shuffle along and don't have much to say or do. I believe this picture the most accurate, and that there may be many enlightened people about but you will have a really hard time recognizing or even finding them at all. I have noticed that at a certain level of expertise things go two ways, you might find a flamboyant person who flaunts his gift and much else, or else you have someone who tends to disappear in the work. Neither of these people make very good partners and require a devoted follower more than a true mate. It is very hard to find two equal horses in this situation.

Occasionally someone well balanced will show up bearing a developed great gift. He or she is not the rule. Being well balanced while having and developing extraordinary capacities is in itself a work and a practice. Not that many people want the task. I would say very damn few ever try it unless they are forced by being backed into a corner they cannot otherwise escape. Becoming well balanced even without extraordinary talent requires a rather painful and embarassing series of things I call growing up in public. I don't really think there is any choice for a person in this attempt to grow up in one important respect. It will require strong support in the process from time to time. It is impossible to find that support of an instant. Instead one will need to build a fellowship or else risk the one sided outcomes that come from self education or too few teachers. It will remain true that much of the time there is not much to do. The fellowship is an investment in the potential for serendipity that can happen at any moment, though it most often will not happen. The work of growing up in public is never easy but it is often simple.

I cop to it. I would like a bit of display should I really end up on top somehow. I have a growing suspicion I need not worry about such matters. It might be a little late in the game.

Here's The Sense Of It

If I had the chance
to lead, orchestrating from
on high, the traffic,
the commerce in all,
in the whimsy of fine things,
I would wear purple
in the off shade, red
shoes, orange socks and ruffed shirt
to mark the moment.

August 6, 2009 12:24 PM

Monday, October 25, 2010

In The Year I Left

Author: elal

Here's one that Billy Collins wrote:

And we know the message
can be delivered from within.
The heart, no valentine,
decides to quit after lunch,
the power shut off like a switch,
or a tiny dark ship is unmoored
into the flow of the body's rivers,
the brain a monastery,
defenseless on the shore.
- Billy Collins
from Picnic, Lightning living and dying with eyes wide open

The poetry I write goes all over the place. I favor fiction a lot of the time. This is a young man I never was, I have never in my life been the man who takes a quest as more important than the current relationship. I have entered tasks and commitments and gambles even but never as they might involve a real journey. I know really well what a real journey is. I went on a two year plus a couple months journey that ended by taking me all the way around the world, leaving from San Francisco towards Alaska and then Japan and returning two years later from Napoli to New York. The flight across to San Jose was anticlimactic. I left with the remnants of a military obligation in place but returned with an Honorable Discharge, them being convinced any more dealings with me were useless. I made my head a psychedelic place in those days too. Even if I stayed home, any given day might turn into a wild ass trip just because. I was a college student in my twenties but carefully selected the few credits I took for their easiness fitting into the lifestyle I had.

All that college stuff ultimately came to grief in my second crash into the ground a few years after returning from overseas. These days I don't have much of a travel bug. I know too much about the hassles. I have already been there. It would take a remarkable travelling companion. The last travelling vacation, I drove all over Oregon. That was good enough for me. My poetry goes all over the place.

In The Year I Left

When I see this moon
I think of you as I last
saw you sitting still
on the verandah
watching as I strode away
down the path, going
to my fate, to who
knows where, keeping my confused
thoughts to my own self.

August 5, 2009 12:39 PM

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In A Knot

Fishing At Dawn

Author: fproject

There was a psychologist, Scottish, by name, R.D. Laing who wrote a book called Knots. He wrote of them this way: "The patterns delineated here have not yet been classified by a Linnaeus of human bondage. They are all, perhaps, strangely, familiar. In these pages I have confined myself to laying out only some of those I actually have seen. Words that come to mind to name them are: knots, tangles, fankles, impasses, disjunctions, whirligogs, binds." He considered these in part the "webs of Maya".

Other quotes by R.D. Laing: "There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain."

“Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.”

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.”

“Whether life is worth living depends on whether there is love in life.”

“Schizophrenia cannot be understood without understanding despair.”

“We are bemused and crazed creatures, strangers to our true selves, to one another, and to the spiritual and material world -- mad, even, from an ideal standpoint we can glimpse but not adopt.”
(I add, to be sure you understand, he is saying we can glimpse the ideal, the spiritual, but we cannot adopt it - and that's where grace comes in)

“We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.” (he was writing back in the sixties - this has gotten if anything much worse)

“We are effectively destroying ourselves by violence masquerading as love.” (see above)

“Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death.”

“Normality highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal. Normal men have killed perhaps 100, 000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years.” (he is being careful here since there are many abnormal and monstrous men doing the killing too - also remember he wasn't yet counting the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, and the 21st century, this too has gotten worse, perhaps)

“Creative people who can't help but explore other mental territories are at greater risk, just as someone who climbs a mountain is more at risk than someone who just walks along a village lane.”

In A Knot

You said I could go
on my own as if it was
true for me like you
are true to yourself
but I know better than to
trust you on this one.
I know I belong
to the world in such a knot
that there is no way
I can untie it.

August 4, 2009 12:39 PM

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fresh Thick Cream

Explanation: Q: Why are black holes black? A: Because they have an event horizon. The event horizon is that one-way boundary predicted by general relativity beyond which nothing, not even light, can return. X-ray astronomers using the space-based Chandra Observatory now believe they have direct evidence for event horizons - therefore black holes - in binary star systems which can be detected in x-ray light. These binaries, sometimes called x-ray novae, are known to consist of relatively normal stars dumping material on to massive, compact companions. As illustrated, the material swirls toward the companion in an accretion disk which itself glows in x-rays. If the compact companion is a neutron star (right), the material ultimately smashes into the solid surface and glows even more brightly in high energy x-rays. But if it is indeed a black hole with a defining event horizon, then the x-ray hot material approaches the speed of light as it swirls past the surface of no return and is lost from view. Recent work describes observations of two classes of x-ray binaries, one class 100 times fainter than the other. The results imply the presence of an event horizon in the fainter class which causes the extreme difference in x-ray brightness.

Here's a poem by John Tarrant:


Sometimes, underneath deep sleep
is a certain diffused glow,
as, in the rainforest, luminous toadstools
glow green among the leaf litter
and beetles crawl about with winking abdomens.
One night when I followed this glow
I came to an upturned tree
that was a kind of cathedral for glowworms
and the light beat against my face, my chest and my hands.
At the end of the corridor of sleep, a dream stands.
It may be that at the end of the corridor of death
there is the walking slightly uphill
through the green fields;
and then the light underneath sleep
is both in front and behind.
- John Tarrant

The presence of cream is great in small doses. I sicken with too much of it. That is true for butter too. This would not be an issue except that my desire to enjoy the cream and butter tastes overloads my ass, as they say. However, I am able to eat quite large dollops of vanilla ice cream, and then do it again. I haven't actually found the limit. Of course I haven't had any ice cream for at least a couple months now and know that for reasons of health, never again except just a taste maybe now and then. I quite frankly would rather totally abstain than eat a smattering of ice cream. Actually a smattering of anything I really enjoy just pisses me off.

Fresh Thick Cream

Such a heavy rich
flow like fresh thick cream across
my palate working
into the deep heart
of love bursting forth,
my display intended for
your eyes and savor,
to anchor the truth.

August 4, 2009 12:30 PM

Friday, October 22, 2010

Annie Died Too Young

Annie was in her fifties, fifty four when she died. We cremated her as was her wish and I got a bottle of her ashes from Columbus, Ohio where she lived at the last. I took that bottle to Newport, Oregon, where in 1985, after two years of living together in Mountain View, Ca and then in Portland, Or, actually most of three, we were married by my mother, a minister.

I have posted two photos. The first shows Ann standing upper left. This was in better times. Next to her standing is my Aunty Nan (never Nancy), who considered Ann among her best friends. The last move Nan made was to Portland to be near us, especially near Ann. At the far right you will see Fran Springhetti. Fran moved to Newport not too long after we did in 1975. She got work in the Children Services office there alongside Annie and later became supervisor there for a short while. During this time Fran became Ann's best friend, at least in the Social Work business. Later Fran retired from that work and among other things remodeled our house when we bought one and opened a coffee retail business called Coffee Concerto.

Seated is my mother. She too moved to Portland to retire from her ministry. She kept active in ministerial duties, going on trips to offer seminars and trainings and was given the title of chaplain to the local Unity School Ministers to maintain her IRS business exemptions and her manse write offs. I live in her house now.

All four of these women are gone now. Fran and Nan both died of cancer. My mother had a stroke and died in three days, in January of 2001. In October of 2001 Ann died of kidney failure as the autopsy put it. She was found dead a few days later in her own apartment. Nan lived a few more years, but all died fairly young except my mother who was most of the way to eighty when she died.

The second photo is of me. I took my then current lover and my oldest friend (he stood for me when Ann and I married and later I stood for him when he married) and went to the main beach in Newport as I wrote before. Isabel was there too. She was Carroll's mate, and they were together longer than Ann and I were, but they married far later in their lives together. That is of course, Annie's ashes leaving the bottle. She is also placed in the back of the house we bought together, out in front of this one, up at Willamette National Cemetery where I go sometimes to visit her and her uncle and aunt also buried there. I also have kept a small portion of her and she sits in her bottle where these pictures are also on display, but in a room only I go into. This house is only mine, I have almost no visitors here. That room is even more private.

Annie Died Too Young

With my friends I took
as you gave me your ashes
to Newport, the beach
we would walk early
in our years together, when
we had no money
nor did we know what

would come. I dug a tideline
hole for you, there placed
your dream as it poured
from the long green glass a thin
ashy stream as we
who knew you witnessed
the tide come for you and take
away from us all

old false empty hope.

August 3, 2009 12:56 PM

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Now That's Old

La Musica del Silencio by Elena Dudina
(The Music of Silence)

The wise are wise only because they love. The fools are fools only because they think they can understand love.
Paulo Coelho

No wise man ever wished to be younger.
Jonathan Swift

Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.
Helen Keller

I have no faith in human perfectability. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active - not more happy - nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago.
Edgar Allan Poe

Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time.
Theodore Roosevelt

This poem is shorter than my usual nine to twelve lines. At the time I wrote the poem my cat had disappeared and I thought she had died. She had gone through a bad patch and was looking disoriented and pathetic to the lady who lives across the street. My cat was rescued by this lady who had no idea who she belonged to. She lived there right through most of the winter, but one early spring day the cat came back home. She lived once again with me until one day not that long ago I ran her over because she couldn't see that well and could not hear the car start up. She had gone behind the car and something distracted me right before I might have walked around the car to make sure. She had been doing this lying in the way sporadically as I was driving in and out for several weeks. She is not old any more but is instead under a modest shrine in my back yard right next to the house. She was 19 years, 3 months when she died of her insistence in choosing to lie right behind the car, the street side.

Now That's Old

You have a cat, thinks
she's a bird when not a dog.
I have a cat too,
so old and ragged
she quit thinking or hearing
unless she wants to.

August 3, 2009 10:24 AM

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In The Aspen Trees

Zarmina's World
Illustration Credit & Copyright: Lynette Cook

Explanation: A mere 20 light-years away in the constellation Libra, red dwarf star Gliese 581 has received much scrutiny by astronomers in recent years. Earthbound telescopes had detected the signatures of multiple planets orbiting the cool sun, two at least close to the system's habitable zone -- the region where an Earth-like planet can have liquid water on its surface. Now a team headed by Steven Vogt (UCO Lick), and Paul Butler (DTM Carnagie Inst.) has announced the detection of another planet, this one squarely in the system's habitable zone. Based on 11 years of data, their work offers a very compelling case for the first potentially habitable planet found around a very nearby star. Shown in this artist's illustration of the inner part of the exoplanetary system, the planet is designated Gliese 581g, but Vogt's more personal name is Zarmina's World, after his wife. The best fit to the data indicates the planet has a circular 37 day orbit, an orbital radius of only 0.15 AU, and a mass 3.1 times the Earth's. Modeling includes estimates of a planet radius of 1.5, and gravity at the planet's surface of 1.1 to 1.7 in Earth units. Finding a habitable planet so close by suggests there are many others in our Milky Way galaxy.

Visiting the Graveyard

When I think of death
it is a bright enough city,
and every year more faces there
are familiar

but not a single one
notices me,
though I long for it,
and when they talk together,

which they do
very quietly,
it's in an unknowable language -
I can catch the tone

but understand not a single word -
and when I open my eyes
there's the mysterious field, the beautiful trees.
There are the stones.
- Mary Oliver
Red bird

It is very hard to wait. A great deal of my spiritual training has been to encounter the mirrored light that shines reflecting many of the facets of the complex jewel that is creative waiting. In some ways that is what I am doing now. I am waiting creatively. As ever, I must do this with the sense of something coming but no clear idea what or when. I am better at it these days, but I would hope that I am. It's been forty years since I realized my position. I don't mean I have been waiting forty years, but that these waiting times have come and gone and come again over these forty years. I guess that there are many people better at waiting than I am, who did not start so far back in the pack as I did. Me, I required spiritual training in several modes to simulate a natural attitude to "not yet". The anxiety of being at the mercy of people I do not trust has been the last to subside as I have found ways to trust even these.

It is not a moment too soon. I am, I suspect, soon to be struggling with my health far more than I am now. Now it is just irritating even though there is much I can no longer do. It won't take much for something more sobering to occur, but this is not very serious and is quite natural, a part of the ordinary processes of the planet. I will certainly be tested, will certainly uncover new facets of the complex jewel of waiting.

In The Aspen Trees

I fear you will not
notice me here. He said stand
silently, gathered,
no loose ends dangling
in the sultry wind blowing
through the aspen trees.

I must stand tight bunched,
constipated with held back
hope. I know I could
break my main chance by
acting too soon and not sure
when true change will come.

-written by me,
August 2, 2009 9:10 AM

Monday, October 18, 2010

Forward Movement

Artist: Philip Straub
Medium: Photoshop 6 and Painter 7
© Vivendi Universal 2001
© Fisher Price 2001
About this Image: A painting made for the Fisher Price product line "Rescue Heroes"

Quite a long time ago now, I had a time like this. I had to leave behind a life and take a new one based on a more mature form of honesty and commitment. I was dragged to it and terrified, I entered it. I found safe places in this new life that made it possible for me to bear it. I was informed that the terms of this new life would not be too hard since I didn't have to bear the burden alone. That turned out to be true, both that the terms were not too hard, but that they were not too hard because I didn't bear the burden alone. It turned out that God had a really high opinion concerning what I could take. Also, it turned out that I can't save my face and my ass at the same time, at least I can't when the chips fall. Full grown love is not for sissies or for the faint of heart. In that way it is exactly like old age.

I have a very good friend who is called Vivian. She was taught by her husband that a life well lived has in it Relentless Forward Movement. This poem has her in mind.

Forward Movement

I walked straight through my
patch of uncompromised truth
without my heavy
pack of lies and all
other listless mad burdens,
having forgiven
you all in my dreams,
willing to embrace this new
landscape of your love.

August 2, 2009 10:01 AM

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Late Afternoon

NGC 346 in the Small Magellanic Cloud
Credit: A. Nota (ESA/STScI) et al., ESA, NASA

"How and why are all these stars forming? Found among the Small Magellanic Cloud's (SMC's) clusters and nebulae NGC 346 is a star forming region about 200 light-years across, pictured above by the Hubble Space Telescope. A satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is a wonder of the southern sky, a mere 210,000 light-years distant in the constellation of the Toucan (Tucana). Exploring NGC 346, astronomers have identified a population of embryonic stars strung along the dark, intersecting dust lanes visible here on the right. Still collapsing within their natal clouds, the stellar infants' light is reddened by the intervening dust. A small, irregular galaxy, the SMC itself represents a type of galaxy more common in the early Universe. But these small galaxies are thought to be a building blocks for the larger galaxies present today. Within the SMC, stellar nurseries like NGC 346 are also thought to be similar to those found in the early Universe."

"The truth of the matter being that there is no such thing as time. Time is a hallucination. There is only today. There never will be anything except today. And if you do not know how to live today, you are demented."
- Alan Watts

I have very little to say for myself tonight.

Late Afternoon

I could not write this
until your whisper touched me
so precisely on
my most tender skin
like a ray of sun on white
white winter's snowy
slope given sudden
transport into summer's last
long late afternoon.
August 2, 2009 12:48 AM

They Sent You Away

No More SummerAuthor: yakodzun

The spirit expressed in this photo by yakodzun and his model reminds me of the essence of the woman I loved in those days.

"There is nothing to compare yourself to. You have your own value. That value is not a comparative value or an exchange value, it is more than that."
- Shunryu Suzuki
Branching Streams Flow in Darkness

This is the value of having others in my life. It is not only true of me that my value is more than comparative and the value of exchanges, it is also true of you. I am in service in two particular fields of action. In the one I serve industry and profit, but also I assist in feeding the people. In the other I assist in saving and salvaging and beautifying lives. I am not only loving those who are close to me, but also loving more generally in the ways of my service.

This is the short version. I have a longer one, less symbolic, that I will not make public. This poem is about a particular moment in my life when I confronted the pain of my own decision to love this woman. I entered into a love certain to fail, entered it to a purpose and achieved the purpose. There is no question that we loved under divine protection, that we could not have succeeded without it. It was convoluted and clandestine. We were otherwise too exposed. It took two years and a little more to accomplish the task. She had to depart as certainly as she was destined to come to me.

I would make the same choices again were I to return to that place and time. I would not attempt it now. Still I can't help but wonder. If this woman were to enter my life again at this point just the right way, as she did the last time, I would fall anew. It would be worth it. It was last time.

They Sent You Away

I took my other
life, my wolfen shape and voice
and I howled all night
along the broken
trail, bloodied red paws, limping
past our yesterdays,
past the last gray moon
of this horrified season.
I have lost your scent.

July 31, 2009 1:02 PM

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Drink The Essence

"Todays main hero is a talanted graphic artist from Spain, Elena Dudina. Her beautiful artworks are great combinations of magic fantasy and dark emotions. Just playing with illumination, colors, and contrast she brings us something special. But the main thing is the idea. As she said “It’s like a puzzle. It’s a long process to make it perfect.” She has created photomanipulations for almost 2 years and already has such stunning results. Elena is definitely a talanted artist" - beautiful life

The Wordle that started this:

Go to the Big Tent to see the gathering of the devoted.

How far would you go to find the Way? If I placed the potion before you, would you drink, like Alice down the rabbit hole and out in some strange garden beyond the ordinary? Would you eat the mushroom, dance with the Mad Hatter, pay heed to the Dormouse? Would you recite this poem three times at the full of the moon? I cannot ask it of you, can only say there is a Way to find, that some do find.

Would you practice and then practice some more, become the artist on fire for the revelation? Do another poem, then drop all poses and declare your desperate love in the essence of it all - in the grief of it all.

Drink The Essence

The glossy extract
comes from my hook set, my trap
near the bitter place
at the bottom step
of God's drooping old staircase.

It's royal purple
you know, this essence
of a shiny plasticine
doll's sweet, sweet french kiss.

You who stand astride
muddy patches, you are called.
Take the drinking gourd
filled with this potion
and drink the last of it all -
then pluck the holy.

‎October ‎14, ‎2010 8:00 PM

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Abyss Love Heals

The Road To The Volcano

Author: c-man

I want this to be true so much I have decided to believe it so. That's risky, but what the hey!

The Abyss Love Heals

I found an abyss.
I tripped at its ragged edge,
a near fall, terror.
Oh man, that yawning
is a gap in me though it
looks like it's outside.

Then I tried on blame,
your fault or mine, anyone's
but no fault to find.

Can I run? Or hide?
Can't I just fall into sleep?
Why not play more games?
That's when you told me
Love would work around, weaving
A healing poultice.

Even though no blame,
you tell me I must forgive
to build my true bridge.

July 30, 2009 12:44 PM

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Slipping Through My Fingers

The naked kingdom
Author: puma100 (Tatyana)

"The refusal to feel takes a heavy toll. Not only is there an impoverishment of our emotional and sensory life, flowers are dimmer and less fragrant, our loves less ecstatic, but this psychic numbing also impedes our capacity to process and respond to information. The energy expended in pushing down despair is diverted from more creative uses, depleting the resilience and imagination needed for fresh visions and strategies."
- Joanna Macy

I hit the turning point. My Medicare card came in the mail. I will be officially on Medicare starting November 1. Now I'm old. Sent out to pasture. What's real about it, my left thigh and left thumb, my right hip and right big toe, my broken L5 vertebra, I think it is and my heart and bronchials, my upper right sinus, certain parts of my systemic regulation and the teeth in my mouth all agree. The line up of prescriptions on the counter taunt me. I once paid no attention to my body. Now I notice the consequences of oxidation all the time. I am rusting like an old bridge. Considering all that I don't feel so bad.

I went to work again today, worked all day. I come home worn out though, and wonder if I will have to pull over to the side of the road to have a nap before I continue my drive home after work sometime soon. Some days, like yesterday especially, it is very hard to do the last three miles of the commute in the afternoon traffic. I can barely stay awake in the forced idleness of sitting in traffic.

Slipping Through My Fingers

I tried to hold time
in my hands no matter what
even though you said
that's impossible
and I kind of thought
so too, so I grinned sheepish
as you inspected
my stiffened talons
and the piles of lost minutes
building at my feet.

July 30, 2009 11:29 AM

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Case For Concealment

Found at the National Geographic site

Cygnus Loop Supernova
Photograph courtesy J. J. Hester (Arizona State University)/NASA

This 1991 image shows a small portion of the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant. The formation shown here marks the outer edge of an expanding blast wave from a colossal stellar explosion that occurred about 15,000 years ago. The blast wave slams into clouds of interstellar gas, causing it to glow and revealing information about the composition of the gas.

(My comment: this is the consequence of a star's failure to thrive after a time. It is very wise to get the hell out of the neighborhood if you can when something like this is about to happen. Stay informed as best you can.)

One should always consider the consequences, both near and far. One thing is just guaranteed: that you don't know what the consequences are will not matter when it is time to pay the piper. This is the worst part of our overly complex world, that we each and every one are busy paying consequences we never intended for our well meant but ignorant actions. No one escapes this. Some of us realize and turn deliberate sometimes. If you are going to pay steep unintended prices you might as well lean into them and create spectacular outcomes.

You should know that some unintended consequences are not bad, at least not everywhere and if you are lucky you will find yourself in the eye of the storm, though dragons stalk the nearby wounded and feast on them.

The Case For Concealment

Should I reveal things,
unload the baggage, unwrap
the trash packages
as you suggested,
there would be large explosions
in unexpected
quarters, in the rooms
left thoughtfully beyond time
and occupied space.

July 29, 2009 12:32 PM

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Creative Intermission

I found myself composing where I should have been reading and posting. I don't know whether to apologize or not. I have several more poems. Thank you for your patience.

"We do not come into this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean "waves," the universe "peoples." Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated egos inside bags of skin."
- Alan Watts

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What Can I Trust Now

This is Van Gogh's Starry Night

Elizabeth Kate Switaj wrote: Note to self: when writing, trust instincts, even if it makes the task harder. Especially if it makes the task harder.

That's a delightful statement from my new FaceBook friend. I can't help it. I am a responder by nature. This is how I responded to her.

What Can I Trust Now?

I trusted my instincts and look what it got me...
My life has turned to just this place and my words
Are whorls like stars in Van Gogh's sky.
They leak like that and turn me froward
(Used to be a real word, like toward and untoward)
And I rationalize in a hurry these days.

October 9, 2010 7:47 PM

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Loving The Crow

The Three Word Wednesday site master writes:
Each week, I post three words. You write something using the words... This week's words:
hint, lust, sheen

This poem is my response. Go here 3WW CCIX to get access to the work of the other participants.

Loving The Crow

I've been looking high
and low, under rocks, behind
the dusty curtains
that make me sneeze hard
trying for a hint, some clue
left behind, some taste
of your red ripe lust
for life.

I would stroke
your feathers until
the sparks would leap off your back
leaving the blue black
sheen of your bird life
for all to see spun large, large
on my pallid shape.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Poetry Conversation

I have this habit that manifests itself, I think, primarily as a musical phenomenon. It is the sort of thing that musicians do with each other, where it is called improvisation. They play with each other back and forth, embellishing the theme and changing it, listening to each other with a joy of the moment.

This can happen in poetry too. Rachel Westfall has a lovely poetic voice. I don't need to inquire why she touches me like she does. She has been very kind, and apparently this works for her too. The following conversation is only the latest of several we have held. It is easy to write to her, which involves going into some world or other and revealing what life would be like there.

Rachel lives in Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory of Canada. That is fairly far north. I live in Gladstone, a town south of Portland, Oregon in the USA. Rachel and I have never met, but in some ways we may have known each other for a very long time. You can see this poetry conversation in its original location here. This conversation or collaboration started last Monday and has continued throughout the week as you may notice. There are two more poems that extend the conversation beyond the four I have chosen, one by Rachel, one by me that appear here but these poems are not included directly in this response to the Big Tent prompt. It's been a busy week.

You might stay and read other things this beautiful lady writes. If you look hard, you will find other examples of our collaboration. She was also kind enough to post one of my poems in her sidebar. For that matter, you can find our conversations from time to time in my archives too because when the fancy strikes it may be her posted poem that starts it, or it may be mine.

Go to Big Tent's poetry prompt, to see the prompt that the Big Tent poets are responding to.

Go to The Big Tent Come One, Come All site for the responses.

Rachel wrote:


Something froze on the shore
etched in lines
scratched by feet of the passing gulls
cast in red-gold rays
of the sudden dawn startling night’s chill
scuttling back to a huddled place
under rocks, in the cool moist dens
of the red-backed crabs
Something froze
on the shore in the salt-tinged sand
where the wind braided hair
and summer freckles smiled
as we combed
tidal pools to fill our treasure chests
Something froze
and I’ve lost your name

Rachel Westfall
October 4, 2010

I replied:

The Gray Sea

You know my frantic
hopes, my pleas that you decide
to stay in my arms,
but like the gray sea
of this late autumn morning,
like the slick scaled sides
of the creatures there,
you slip free and go. I can't
keep you home this time.

This forces me out
of my dream. I must admit
I no longer know
your true and private

October 4, 2010

Then Rachel wrote:

The day you lost my name

I was sleek, limbs fresh
and soft as wax
newly emerged
when you first drew me up
in a long embrace
and spoke
my true name in my ear.
You told me I was real,
grew me lean and strong
to run colt-limbed
across the sand, the wind
stroking long ripples
through my hair.
You say you do not know me
now, you say
you’ve lost my name.
Without your hands,
your breath, your hawk’s whisper
I have no name at all.

October 4, 2010

And I replied,

Your Gone Away Posture

To me you have gone
and taken your name away.
I no longer know
what it is to say
it, what aroma
and shape it takes when I say
it in day's early
light or in moonshine.
It's your gone away posture
that strafes my soul's face
with large caliber
plugs of gray sea ice
and my peeled back skin reveals
my sunk thews and bones.

October 5, 2010

Field Theory II

A theoretical M theory multiverse. One of the bubbles is ours. This is theoretical. It is background radiation bubbles that we see in this picture. We cannot see past the background radiation. The universe goes opaque at that point, with all the light trapped along with everything else because the distances are too small and everything is too hot. The background radiation was the first thing that can now be seen when the universe went transparent. It is very far away which is equivalent to saying it was a long time ago. This is because it is space/time and there is no real separation. Light travels about 6 trillion miles in a year. Almost 14 billion years ago the universe formed and in less than half a million years became transparent. So something around 13.7 billion light years is the location of the background radiation in every direction.

So today this is a science blog and the poem is a science poem. It won't last long. Tomorrow is Three Word Wednesday and I am hopefully going to post a poem freshly written to use the three words.

"The goal of becoming a better person is within the reach of us all, at every moment. The tool for emerging from the primitive yoke of conditioned responses to the tangible freedom of the conscious life lies just behind our brow. We need only invoke the power of mindful awareness in any action of body, speech, or mind to elevate that action from the unconscious reflex of a trained creature to the awakened choice of a human being who is guided to a higher life by wisdom."
- Andrew Olendzki
Unlimiting Mind

Field Theory II

The long redaction
of strings reaches past the rays,
motion faster than
little dots of stranger light,
lonely hordes, photons
all, corpuscular
at this precious momentum
but field theory
holds firm just the same.

July 29, 2009 10:11 AM

The poem is titled Field Theory II because I used the title in another poem. That one was about losing love after working to insure its presence in my life. This poem is about connection. If field theory holds firm then there is a way that each little photon is connected to all the other photons. Indeed, when you look at the situation in a certain way, just as there is only one electron manifesting in uncountable ways, there is only one photon also manifesting in uncountable ways. Perhaps there is only one of us too, manifesting in uncountable ways. There is no us. There is only one. There can be only one. This sounds like the Highlander story.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Here's a little reality for you.

"Philosophers are often like little children, who first scribble random lines on a piece of paper with their pencils, and now ask an adult "What is that?"
- Ludwig Wittgenstein

I spent time on the streets. All streets are mean streets when you are in a certain condition. I was more interested in getting high than I was in keeping an apartment, in working, in bathing, in eating. I found ways to get by but I was literally starving. I weighed 148 pounds at 5'11". I would stand at a street corner and wonder which way led to more dope, which way to an escape from my trap. I knew I was trapped, that it would take an act from outside to get me out. I couldn't get myself out. I had dropped below the event horizon.

At one stage, I was living in the back of my car, a Rambler station wagon that only had second gear. The rest had failed somehow. That didn't matter because I didn't have any money anyway. I had parked that car in front of a vacant lot, so no one really objected. The car was full of my stuff but there was room for me to sleep. My toilet was where I could find it, but I peed at night in that lot. Later I snuck into empty apartments and hooked up with a guy who had an extra bed in his rented room, a bed that was supposed to rent out. The bed was terrible. Still later we went to jail for walking down the street late at night. My friend was carrying pot, less than an ounce but more than enough in those days.

I still marvel at one thing. We were all so broke, all so not into finding ways to make a living, all so out and out incompetent at keeping shit together. Just how is it possible that we could find all that dope?? We thought it was weird then. There is magic in the world and that is part of it. Every dope freak knows this. You need the dope. It is rare that it doesn't come. When it doesn't come it is a horror, an effing disaster and also it is like a violation of the law of dope. On any given day there is enough dope, often more than enough.

This poem is about that kind of life, but not about me.


I'm watching tv.
This ad comes on, tells me Stop
littering! Shows a
Red Man in full dress
with a sweet tear in his eye,
wounded at the mess.

This won't stop me now
any more than what happened
when I dropped my rig
in that field running
from the dealer I ripped off.

Turned out, was shit dope.

July 28, 2009 11:06 AM

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Predator Words

A White Tailed Deer. I hope it was only hunted by camera. In looking for a photo I found a hunting site, with photos of hunters glorying in the kill. I cannot have a real opinion about an activity that is basically millions of years old in the human lineage. I will only say I am not and cannot be a hunter. I hope it never comes to that. It would break my heart. I am a meat eater. I don't care that eating meat is hypocritical for one in my position about hunting. I just don't care. I won't be able to get over it.

The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps.
-- Benjamin Disraeli

One of my favorite images of success is the image of the King's Hunt from the ancient chinese wisdom stories. It is told that the king goes on the hunt with his whole retinue, who form an open box formation, but with a line of beaters directly in front of the king. There are three sides to the box, the king's right and left, and behind him, and as I have already said, there is a line of beaters blocking the direct path to the king as well. The whole formation moves at a stately pace, driving game before it, and the open side ahead of the line of beaters in front of the king allows all game to escape in that direction, to get out of the box. So the game must wind up somehow going down a corridor sideways to the main direction of travel or it will not reach the king's range, and always the game can turn around and escape by reversing its track and then running in the direction still open to it. The reason for this is that then the game that ends in the corridor directly in front of the king has wound up there from a series of turns that indicate it is God's will that the king take the game. There has been ample alternatives that the game has chosen from to escape or not. It is assumed then that this game is God's gift to the king. Also then, it in its own way mirrors the gift that a successful hunt is in the world of nature.

It is well known that hunters in the shamanic traditions are expected to treat the gift of meat as a royal gift, an offering of the totem spirit of the animal, and a participation in the web of life. In this way, sometimes my poems come to me as offerings.

Predator Words

The northern sun sits
high above the horizon
of auroral dreams,
dreams of the long way
home, of singular bare trees,
dry and hot, leafless,
dying or just dead.
In the wild of my long life
around the corner
there lurk predator
words that ache for expression,
aching for the truth.

July 22, 2009 12:40 PM

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thinking Like A Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

"Wild geese fly south, creaking like anguished hinges; along the riverbank the candles of the sumacs burn dull red. It's the first week of October. Season of woolen garments taken out of mothballs; of nocturnal mists and dew and slippery front steps, and late-blooming slugs; of snapdragons having one last fling; of those frilly ornamental pink-and-purple cabbages that never used to exist, but are all over everywhere now."
- Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin

I sought oblivion for many years, just a small one for a time, a little time each day, to make the rest tolerable. I would organize around that opportunity, support it with space and effort and intention. I would defend it with my slippery ways and with an earnest weasel's capacity to evade my own better forms. I would tie one hand down and gesticulate with the other, sure that was all I needed, all you all deserved of me.

I was so sure I was right. I would exclaim, don't you know I have to be like this to live? I would point out at peak voice some aspect or other of our approaching doom and I would discover and display what was wrong with you all, or Him in filigree, burnished, bright mirrored tales telling the truths I knew, not that I was above things but that I ached at my entrapments.

When I was called forth out of myself, I was hugely angry at the rudeness of that call, and terrified. Such was oblivion for me, a place very near an unending supply of wine and words circling the drain and justifying my mandala of despair.

When I was stuck in and on myself, this was my course.

Indeed, even though I write in first person, I am no longer always the person who writes. In fact, several poems in my growing body of work are poems of shape shifting and I take that ability to be a great blessing. How else can I be a great mage or a tiny frog or a lover of a goddess?

How else can I tell the world?

I do not know why I say these things just now, but here is another poem of shifted shape.

There is a type of hawk who is known as a locust hunter if at all possible, accepting small mammals as prey if it must. It is widely distributed, found as well in Oregon, and competes directly for territory with the Red Tailed Hawk. It is known as Swainson's Hawk. This hawk has the longest migration route of most hawks from North to South America and does not vary its route. The hawk migrates around 14,000 miles each season, a distance traveled in two months, eating locusts along the way if it can, but there is a point in the journey where it eats nothing for a few weeks, neither eating nor casting its pellets.

Thinking Like A Hawk

Sitting and thinking,
waiting for the big legged bugs,
the flyers to come.
I may have to eat
thin red squirrel if I must.
But really locusts
are my choice. They get my juice
flowing, my heart filled with joy.

July 22, 2009 12:10 PM

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