Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Is Due You

"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." - Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

"Sometimes love will pick you up by the short hairs...and jerk the heck out of you." - Denise Dobbs, Northern Exposure, Survival of the Species, 1993

"I am going to concentrate on what's important in life. I'm going to strive everyday to be a kind and generous and loving person. I'm going to keep death right here, so that anytime I even think about getting angry at you or anybody else, I'll see death and I'll remember." - Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Do The Right Thing, 1992

(I think we can thank Carlos Castaneda and his stories of Don Juan Matus, brujo, for this consciousness in the mainstream media of death as teacher. At least that is where I learned the wisdom of making death your ally - not a friend but a helper nonetheless)

"Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek & find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." - Rumi

(to live in avoidance of mortality is one of the barriers)

What Is Due You

If I left kisses
on your lips I would expect,
even demand so
sternly precisely
nothing in return. I would
hold you to that, chained
with your promise to
simply accept these kisses
as what is due you.

September 10, 2009 9:22 PM

Monday, November 29, 2010

Among The Lesser Blue Stars

Stardust in Aries (The Lesser Blue Stars)
Credit & Copyright: Alessandro Falesiedi
Explanation: This composition in stardust covers almost 2 degrees on the sky, close to the border of the zodiacal constellation Aries and the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. At the lower right of the gorgeous skyscape is a dusty blue reflection nebula surrounding a bright star cataloged as van den Bergh 13 (vdB 13), about 1,000 light-years away. At that estimated distance, the cosmic canvas is over 30 light-years across. Also surrounded by scattered blue starlight, vdB 16 lies toward the upper left, while dark dusty nebulae sprawl across the scene. Near the edge of a large molecular cloud, they can hide newly formed stars and young stellar objects or protostars from prying optical telescopes. Collapsing due to self-gravity, the protostars form around dense cores embedded in the molecular cloud.

"Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness." - Shakti Gawain

"The arts must be considered an essential element of education... They are tools for living life reflectively, joyfully and with the ability to shape the future." - Shirley Trusty Corey

"If you look at life (only) one way, there is always cause for alarm." - Elizabeth Bowen (1899 - 1973)

"If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down." - Mary Pickford (1893 - 1979)

Among The Lesser Blue Stars

On my route, heaven
bound, I heard you call me back
and I have come here
to breathe with you now.

It is no small feat, to sing
me home. I was far
among the lesser
blue stars, crossing comet-like,
all ice and gray snow.

September 9, 2009 12:58 PM

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Passing

- a leaf cutter worker ant courtesy the National Geographic

"To forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest since anger, resentment, and revenge are corrosive of that "summum bonum," the greatest good." - Bishop Desmond Tutu

"The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions." - Thich Nhat Hanh

(this is to say that there are practices which aim at developing the necessary skills and that free an intuitive capacity - that lead to empowerment in a real sense and that are required if one is to advance very far spiritually)

"Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil;
With them forgive yourself."
- William Shakespeare

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." - Mohandas K. Gandhi

No shape shifter is ever evil before learning to shift. All pass through forgiveness first, compassion and clarity first, and then develop the skill before turning evil. There is no way to protect against this feature of free will.

Shape shifting. I made a mistake one day and ended in an ant body, female of course, and just a worker, not a soldier, not an attendant to the queen. A forager is what I was. See above. Funny. I thought that was you who passed by.

If you want to shape shift you have to be prepared. You won't be any more perfect there than anywhere else in your life. Ending in the wrong body can be embarrassing and worse. There is always the chance that something happens that will make you forget how to get back...but really that's pretty rare since you will have your own will to live supporting your return. I am really grateful for that.

*sigh of relief*

In Passing

Walking the ant road,
all six legs in tune, feelers
on the wide alert,
and so here you come
the other way. I smell you
before I see you
and now! feelers out,
tangle, untangle. Though I
expected Plato,
I got, "here I am",
the symphony of presence,
and then you went on.

September 7, 2009 3:49 PM

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Moon In Pisces

"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's own, or real life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life - the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one's real life is a phantom of one's own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it's hard to remember it all the time." - C. S. Lewis

I burned incense, swept the earth, and waited
for a poem to come . . .

Then I laughed, and climbed the mountain,
leaning on my staff.

How I'd love to be a master
of the blue sky's art:

see how many sprigs of snow-white cloud
he's brushed in so far today.
- Yuan Mei

I am framed in archetype, framed in Moon in Pisces, in a form called a bucket, but not so extreme as to be held as one holds a handle. Indeed my form is difficult as well as easy, most of a grand cross as well as grand trine. Hidden within this mostly regular shape are lines of fate. I have never been in charge of my own life as some are. In my height I am expansive, and tell my stories but in my depth lies the cool dark of the open ocean and I am too far from land for landing and for comfort. But I am wise, Oh my Son, Oh my Daughter, and Brother, Sister, I sing the very lines that hold the stars in place.

Here is the Moon, coming for me
escalones, by Elena Dudina, Spanish Photoshop artist

Moon In Pisces

Moon has been my guide
as I quest for the old cup,
following the path
of her rays.

She lies
in my heart as a wanton
in my bed, hungry
and taking all I
offer, demanding yet more
before she wanes, wanes
and I fade with her.

I've gone further than my eyes,
shining, free of shame,
at last, free of shame.

September 7, 2009 2:13 PM

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Heard You Sing

Miradita by Elena Dudina

(Elena Dudina was awarded as the Best Photo Manipulator during the Deviant Awards 2009-2010. She was chosen through a popular votation. Elena Dudina is from Spain. This very talented lady often depicts fantasy, emotionally dramatic, and dark themes on her photo manipulation. And in most of her artworks, the subject would be a woman. Elena Dudina has been doing photo manipulation for more than two years already.)

(I comment: she presents illustrations of the Goddess.)

"Perhaps one has to be very old before one learns to be amused rather than shocked." - Pearl S. Buck

People like you and I, though mortal of course like everyone else, do not grow old no matter how long we live...[We] never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born." - letter to Otto Juliusburger - Albert Einstein

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

"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit." - Peter Ustinov

Ever the romantic, the fantasist, it is easy for me to collapse the figure of one woman with another, and then with my liege, my queen, and then beyond with Goddess, another name of God and so with everything. I prefer this to the lesser loves. The last time I had the privilege of falling like this, on the way down, knowing that first I was going to be ravished, my words to all of it were, "Ohhh! This is really going to hurt!"

That's a revelation. I would do it again too were I able to roll it all back to that point and kind of know what was to come. I mean, I kind of did know what was to come. The two years gave me a great gift. I could not be the man I am today without that experience, all of it. It changed my art while it deepened my philosophy to love like that. Further, it revealed to me in several ways the shape of my courage. Reinhold Niebuhr's famous prayer asks for grants of serenity, courage and wisdom. AAs feel this prayer central to their need and courage is central to the prayer. I definitely paid a price but when it was demanded of me in that time that I regret my choice I was able to accept that some saw me differently from the way I saw myself and refuse to deflect from my course. This was a big period in my life as long time readers of my blog know.

I Heard You Sing

Reaching for your song,
sung so far away from here,
from where I hold sway,
from this corner stone
I set for you in the wall
as it turns.

The point
of the turning wall
is this corner and the place
of rest I found there
on the western side,
the warm sunset side, the place
of your forgiveness.

September 7, 2009 1:30 PM

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I Said To Her

"Each person must live their life as a model for others." - Rosa Parks

"We as for long life, but 'tis deep life, or noble moments that signify. Let the measure of time be spiritual, not mechanical." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Now there is one outstandingly important fact regarding Spaceship Earth, and that is that no instruction book came with it." - Buckminster Fuller

"To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go." - Blackwater Woods - Mary Oliver

On this Thanksgiving Day I am spending most of it alone.

What I Said To Her

I wish I had words
enough to really say it
but of course I don't.

I would touch you there
and watch your world change from top
to bottom, from bud
to fragrant bright bloom
as if I had that power,
a true timeless mage.

Can you know this ache
in me, this want, this pent up
life about to burst?

September 7, 2009 9:58 AM

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Catnip Dreams

The older I get the more valuable naps get. When I am idle, laid off or something, it gets irregular around here because I tend to sleep whenever I feel like it and this entails being awake also whenever I feel like it. I get more sleep, not less. I sleep less than six hours a night on work nights. I get up really early and I just can't go to bed that early to compensate so what happens is Friday night extends quite late into Saturday and then there are the day naps, and then the Saturday night sleep in as well. I am grateful that I can sleep easily, but truth is, I am up quite often with an old man's trouble. A third of us or so have this, mostly benign but intrusive, and it is said that if we could live long enough, avoiding all the other ways out, then prostate cancer would claim us all eventually. I am kind of okay with that because I am pretty sure its the same with cats and kidneys, that kidneys get them eventually if nothing else does first.

My right hip is giving me fits these days, and a fairly simple maneuver led to a seized muscle just above the hip joint and extending toward the back but staying in the buttock area alongside the spine. What a pain in the ass. It hasn't kept me home but only because my work is basically office bound these days. If I had to do much walking I would have to not go. I can find still positions which do not distress me but movement and balancing is dicey.

Growing old is not for sissies.

Education is the best provision for the journey to old age. - Aristotle

Forty is the old age of youth, fifty is the youth of old age. - Hosea Ballou
(Hosea Ballou (1771-1852), American Universalist clergyman - as in Unitarian Universalist)

Fundamental Universalism = "We either all go to Heaven or we don't" - Phil Carrier (obscure local Senior Engineering Designer and family man) Amen, Brother!

I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity. - Albert Einstein

With 60 staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and a definite hardening of the paragraphs. - James Thurber

What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy. - Voltaire

We should so provide for old age that it may have no urgent wants of this world to absorb it from meditation on the next. - Pearl S. Buck

Catnip Dreams

If you let me be
laying on your blue blanket
I would curl up tight
and with a snore or
two would dream a partner next
to me, just a bit
different, longer
tail, spots, a fondness for nip,
a ready mouser.

September 2, 2009 3:47 PM

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Doe's Sorrow

My wife and I, we had a pair of tomcats, brothers, who were obviously close. We named them Philip Berrigan Cat and Joltin Joe Frasier Cat. Orange marmalade toms, they were. Berrigan was a little shy. Frasier was out there. We had them about two years when Frasier left us. We never found out why but he never came back. Berrigan was devastated. After a while it was obvious that even if he was forgetting his brother he wasn't forgetting his grief. It changed him from a slightly shy pretty happy cat to a somber creature who was much more leary of things and far needier too. If you have been around very many cats, you will know this type. They vary around the theme of not having enough something, never enough. Berrigan was that way after he lost his brother but not before.

To indulge like that makes one less able to survive, because the deflection in one's person steals from awareness and alertness, from engagement and commitment. While my cat had room to carry long term grief in this sideways way - even having forgotten the cause but not the grief - and it turning into something plaintive and unhappy but not directly expressible, so that it leaks and spills in odd places and ways. While my cat could live like this, a wild doe cannot, and my cat, had he been feral, this complex might have killed him. This began when he was not yet four. He lived to nineteen yrs, four mos. As far as I could see, he never healed. In the end he was deaf and blind and just really really old.

The Doe’s Sorrow

When I came upon
the dead fawn my heart dissolved
in the error’s wake
and I thought then
of the doe who watched her fawn
struck down before her
broken eyes. Driven
to her knees, her dugs in pain,
her heart pain throbbing
and then she must bolt,
she must forget and go on.
This fawn never was.

September 2, 2009 12:41 PM

Monday, November 22, 2010

Evening Drink

"I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sandburg

"Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right." - Isaac Asimov

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." - Michelangelo

"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Anyone can see that if grasping and aversion were with us all day and night without ceasing, who could ever stand them? Under that condition, living things would either die or become insane. Instead, we survive because there are natural periods of coolness, of wholeness, and ease. In fact, they last longer than the fires of our grasping and fear. It is this that sustains us. We have periods of rest making us refreshed, alive, well. Why don't we feel thankful for this everyday Nirvana?

We already know how to let go - we do it every night when we go to sleep, and that letting go, like a good night's sleep, is delicious. Opening in this way, we can live in the reality of our wholeness. A little letting go brings us a little peace, a greater letting go brings us a greater peace. Entering the gateless gate, we begin to treasure the moments of wholeness. We begin to trust the natural rhythm of the world, just as we trust our own sleep and how our own breath breathes itself."
- Jack Kornfield

Gate, gate
bodhi swaha.

- Buddhist Mantra

"Gone, gone beyond,
really gone beyond,
really most utterly gone beyond,
salute this wisdom."

Evening Drink

Look at the sweet flow
spilling from the ewer's lip
like my heart's warm pulse.
It threads the late air
on it's well aimed way into
my waiting wide cup.
Swirling up and back
to settle in a golden
pool, there it fire shines.

September 1, 2009 12:56 PM

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Clipped Wings

Time by ~imperioli

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted." - Martin Luther King Jr

"Someday we'll look back on this moment and plow into a parked car." - Evan Davis, Presenter for the BBC

"I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult." - Rita Rudner, Comedienne

"If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going." - Professor Irwin Corey, American comedian, satirist and pantomimist

I think there is no doubt that I am creatively maladjusted. However, I do not feel the fate of humanity is in my hands. I do feel a destiny. I hope that I am aligned with it in some way. I hope that my poetry and the other things I write and gather are part of that instead of a side note or worse, a diversion. I look over on my table beside me where I have a slew of papers, many of them the effluvia of my life, especially the bills that come due. At one end of the pile lies a manila folder and in that folder, usually six to a page, are hard copies of the poems I have written. There are about two hundred pages. This is part of my back up system. I have another set of these poems at work, in a file cabinet there. I also have them saved off on a remote drive. But I have no idea if any of that is important. Save them for what? I think there is no doubt I am creatively maladjusted.

Clipped Wings

To think of you with
wings is to lift my own heart
into the slipstream
of your feather light
flight beyond the slow moving
silver moon, twilight
colored sky, sunset
calling out your name and mine,
but I have clipped wings.

August 31, 2009 3:53 PM

Friday, November 19, 2010


"zen" by Gabriel Nardelli

"Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good." - Vaclav Havel

"I have my values, and if you don't like them, well I've got some others." - Mark Twain

"Feeling and longing are the motive forces behind all human endeavor and human creations." - Albert Einstein

"By believing passionately in something that does not yet exist, we create it." - Nikos Kazantzaki

I am listening to Pandora Radio these days. This has been eye opening. They have such a wide selection of music. I have found mine. Eric Whiteacre and other choral masters. Contemporary Folk. Dar Williams and Bruce Cockburn. Arvo Part and other masters of modern music. Deva Premal and other chant and devotional music. It inspired me to purchase some other stuff. I was singing in Unistus, a choral group focussing on Estonian folk music and other forms too. We sang in Eesti. We went to festivals and performed. Everyone was strong musically and mainly better than me at sight reading. It was one of the better experiences of my life, a few years of stretching and learning. There was even a chance in some near future of a trip to Estonia. They may have gone by now. Allergies wrecked my stability as a performer. It broke my heart. I still hurt. There is nothing to be done.

One of the best parts, we had a relationship with Sonfonia Conertante, a pro orchestra in the area run as a pet project by the former maestro of the Portland Opera. They would do Bach's Christmas Oratorio and it needed a choir with the orchestra. I did that several Christmas seasons - an amazing experience to sing with the big dogs. Four pros as the soloists, all pros in the orchestra. What a blessing. I will be forever grateful both that I had the chance and that I measured up. Age has caught me though. That's it.

I can have the sound in my house though. I can surround myself with the shards of song. I can visualize what it would be like to not cough if I breathe too deep as I must for song. I can still play the keys. I can still write.


I walk so barefoot
carefully among the sherds
on this ground, this back
yard. I know you were
here, leaving your trace, your tears
and I know how hard
it will be to piece
it all back together. I
don't have the right glue.

August 31, 2009 1:25 PM

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not A Swan

Photo by Michel Rajkovic

"I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate." - George Burns

"Maybe I'm lucky to be going so slowly, because I may be going in the wrong direction." - Ashleigh Brilliant

"Sport and life is about losing. It's about understanding how to lose." - Lynn Davies

"Hope is itself a species of happiness, and perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords." - Samuel Johnson

It is important to think I could be a swan. It is equally important to know I am not a swan. I am not good for carrying heavy loads. I am unlikely to ever build a house. Hell, I have trouble staying awake in the afternoon commute. I guess I will never be qualified as a truck driver either. I am no mechanic and really don't care to cook or clean or do much of anything really. Oh yes, I write a pretty good poem and noodle around on keyboards of different kinds fairly well. So if swans can write poetry, then maybe I have a chance.

Not A Swan

If you came up on
me floating in the middle
of my small puddle
I would be scrambling
into the air, like some big
old ungainly bird,
definitely not
a swan.

August 31, 2009 12:56 PM

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Too Far Away

Photographer mercand

Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future, making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanly possible. - Hannah Arendt

You have to pay the price. You will find that everything in life exacts a price, and you will have to decide whether the price is worth the prize. - Sam Nunn

In life, many thoughts are born in the course of a moment, an hour, a day. Some are dreams, some visions. Often, we are unable to distinguish between them. To some, they are the same; however, not all dreams are visions. Much energy is lost in fanciful dreams that never bear fruit. But visions are messages from the Great Spirit, each for a different purpose in life. Consequently, one person's vision may not be that of another. To have a vision, one must be prepared to receive it, and when it comes, to accept it. Thus when these inner urges become reality, only then can visions be fulfilled. The spiritual side of life knows everyone's heart and who to trust. How could a vision ever be given to someone to harbor if that person could not be trusted to carry it out. The message is simple: commitment precedes vision. - High Eagle

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. (attributed) - Talmud

Too Far Away

I am not really
here but still I see you hold
us in new strange life,
hold life on your lap,
as if we had a child, born
of our loins, but no
I am not here, have
never been near enough to
even see your need
nor hope to fill it.

August 30, 2009 10:17 AM

Photographer: Unknown

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Painter


It began to snow at midnight. And certainly
the kitchen is the best place to sit,
even the kitchen of the sleepless.
It's warm there, you cook yourself something, drink wine
and look out of the window at your friend eternity.
Why care whether birth and death are merely points
when life is not a straight line.
Why torment yourself eyeing the calendar
and wondering what is at stake.
Why confess you don't have the money
to buy Saskia shoes?
And why brag
that you suffer more than others.
If there were no silence here
the snow would have dreamed it up.
You are alone.
Spare the gestures. Nothing for show.

- Vladimir Holub
translated by Ian & Jarmila Milner

"You are standing in the sky. When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth. We walk through it, yell into it, rake leaves, wash the dog, and drive cars in it. We breathe it deep within us. With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules of sky, heat them briefly, and then exhale them back into the world." - Diane Ackerman

This poem is of course about Vincent. I have always felt an affinity. I am crazy enough in my own ways. I am fortunate that my madness has not haunted me like it did him. I can understand the sacrifice of the ear. I can understand how the world is so alien. These have been daily encounters for me. I began a journey to peace quite some time ago and I have largely succeeded but not entirely. My temper laspses and insanity returns. That is just how it is. I have things to face and just live with. My hope is to live transparently, and so I cannot keep secret behaviors of any consequence.

Vincent Van Gogh. I read a novel written by Sheramy Bundrick called Sunflowers, the story of Vincent told by his lover, a prostitute named Rachel. The story covered his time in Arles, where he painted intensely.

The Painter

To ache and burn so
that I would rip my own ear,
that I would turn night
into day on some
other planet with pinwheel
stars filling the sky.

Then to know this home
is askew, that you run from
it, from me. I howl.

August 29, 2009 8:36 PM

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Magician’s Wish

Bajo Aqua by Elena Dudina

Bajo Aqua means "under water" but there are rich under and overtones, and this is a poem of a title...a Spaniard might also think of a lowland or hollow, a shallow like a shoal or sandbank, in music bajo voz is a bass voice, or a bajo violoncelo is a low cello, and in idioms bajo figures in ground floor, underskirt, the cuff of pants, or a slum neighborhood. There is the idea of below in many forms, even a low or soft voice, or secretly, or with a voice low enough that it is almost a whisper, as we use undertone. It figures in thinking about under in many contexts, under contract, under oath, under lock and key, on parole, under penalty, under protest. All this figures in the Spanish, the cloud of connotation, water as metaphor tied to under in all contexts. Thus it is an expression of limit.

In the Western United States we know bajo in the feminine form, as in Baja California, Lower California

I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity. - Albert Einstein

We accumulate our opinions at an age when our understanding is at its weakest. - Georg C. Lichtenberg

One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them. - Virginia Woolf

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. - Oscar Wilde

I have turned 65 today, the official date of American old age, marked by strongly urged medicare enrollment. I could have refused but only at a punitive price. My social security base rate retirement age is 66. I will be as full time as possible for five more years. I am arranging my life as best I can to accomplish that. It is however a race against my health which shows real signs of faltering. These are my current limits.

There are always limits. Limits may vary from day to day or from context to context, but even improvisational musicians know, even atonal musicians, arhythmic musicians know there are certain ways you can and many ways you can't. So a man of power will still be forced to say, "if I had (sufficient) power."

There may be ways a person can say, "there are no limits." One sure way that is true is to say, "at God's pleasure and with His assistance, I can do anything He permits." Even then, there are conceivable changes that I cannot achieve because He will not ever permit those. Think on that one, think how God permitted Nazism to flourish for decades. Yet there are limits. This will ever be true, no matter how much creative power I amass.

The Magician’s Wish

If I had power
I would weave your new life path,
stud it with fortune
flashing in the light
left above us as the sun
sets in the true north
of this brand new world.
Sun rising in the south and
setting in the north,
how we know it worked.

August 29, 2009 7:30 PM

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why I Became An Astronaut

The Necklace Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Romano Corradi (IAC), et al., IPHAS

Explanation: The small constellation Sagitta sports this large piece of cosmic jewelry, dubbed the Necklace Nebula. The newly discovered example of a ring-shaped planetary nebula is about 15,000 light-years distant. Its bright ring with pearls of glowing gas is half a light-year across. Planetary nebulae are created by sun-like stars in a final phase of stellar evolution. But the Necklace Nebula's central star, near the center of a ring strongly tilted to our line of sight, has also been shown to be binary, a close system of two stars with an orbital period of just over a day. Astronomers estimating the apparent age of the ring to be around 5,000 years, also find more distant gas clouds perpendicular to the ring plane, seen here at the upper left and lower right. Those clouds were likely ejected about 5,000 years before the clouds forming the necklace. This false color image combines emission from ionized hydrogen in blue, oxygen in green, and nitrogen in red.

"Grace means more than gifts. In grace something is transcended, once and for all overcome. Grace happens in spite of something; it happens in spite of separateness and alienation. Grace means that life is once again united with life, self is reconciled with self. Grace means accepting the abandoned one. Grace transforms fate into a meaningful vocation. It transforms guilt to trust and courage. The word grace has something triumphant in it." - Yrjo Kallinen

"Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"... everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal essence, tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence." - George Santayana

"Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you reach your destiny." - Carl Schurz

Surely this poem of mine is true for somebody. It is too deeply true not to latch onto reality somewhere. When something like this little gem comes my faith is renewed in something like channeling. I am sure this thing was floating around full grown just like this waiting for someone to love it enough to give it birth. It is worth a prayer of gratitude. It is worth a caress.

It is worth a whole life committed to the stars, to sailing in between the stars, to going beyond all chance of return. Poems are passages and journeys and changes. Beneath the story line lurks the power that presses us and the deep love we hope for. Within the story is a woven wand stiffened with the rhythm and the dream like you said it should be. Grasp hold, and so it is that the water flows and the light shivers and glows and I can't take my eyes off of you, can't, no cannot take my eyes off of you. My mind, my heart, my soul. You. That's why I became an astronaut.

Why I Became An Astronaut

I snuck around, peered
at you through the hedge and watched
as you pointed up,
pointed to the sky
as if you owned it, whispered
to one another
as you lay gazing
at the stars and I had to
run home, my heart sore.

August 29, 2009 2:33 PM

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Know Your Place

You Know Your Place

I knew it would be
just like this, that you would go
back again, cross roads,
through back yards, along
fences, ducking here, dodging
there to get back home,
no convincing you
that we have moved on
until one time I did not
find you anywhere.

August 29, 2009 10:10 AM

Monday, November 8, 2010

Swinging For The Bleachers

Author: Koshkin Dom

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

"A man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of his epoch and his contemporaries." - Thomas Mann
(hmmm - then what does this mean that I am 27 years sober, a recovering alcoholic, a full blown 1960s style hippie and dope dealer who went to West Point for a short time, spent time in a nut ward and in jail, but also have a self created college degree based largely on what I accomplished to that time in the world rather than on classwork and who holds a highly technical and modestly well paid job unrelated to the degree, who has been all the way round the world though over forty years ago and sort of on the lam? A mechanical designer musician poet philosopher who is devoted to God and loves quantum foam. WTF do we make of that??)

"Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Amen, Brother Emerson, Amen!)

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver

An incident, a circumstance, a misdirection: I knocked the leather off the ball...not in this case a good thing. Sometimes questions are not for answering but for holding close and living through them. Do not answer the question, do not even ask it. Instead, make love to it. When you come, accept the joy.

This is what happens when you insist on asking demanding the answer, what happens to the answer, to you.

Swinging For The Bleachers

Your words fell, landed
on the floor, piled up between
us, an answer knocked
down by the question
I shouldn't have asked, swung like
a bat, swung roundly
by our circumstance,
your answer broken apart
by that swing, that cut.

August 28, 2009 1:10 PM

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On How It All Changes

"A man must not swallow more beliefs than he can digest." - Havelock Ellis

"Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul." - Mark Twain

"Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them." - Peter Ustinov

But this is also the truth

"By believing passionately in something that does not yet exist, we create it." - Nikos Kazantzakis

On How It All Changes

It happens just so.
Sudden hard right turn staggers
the world as it was
and I mutter down
the new path, wonder what's up,
why is the old, old?
I can't put my heart
back where it was even to
save my entire life.

August 27, 2009 12:39 PM

Saturday, November 6, 2010

In The Basement

"Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life and that to destroy, harm, or to hinder life is evil. Affirmation of the world -- that is affirmation of the will to live, which appears in phenomenal forms all around me -- is only possible for me in that I give myself out for other life."- Albert Schweitzer

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?"- George Eliot
(My comment: these two statements are basically equivalent, are they not?)

"That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet."- Emily Dickinson
(I comment on Emily: I do not believe she meant this in some sweeping sense that turns into theology. Emily was master of the present moment and that is how I believe she means this quote - that this very moment is sweet and it is sweet in it's passing, never to come again)

"The most decisive actions of our life ... are most often unconsidered actions."- Andre Gide
(I have lived this quote. I insist that the key moments of my life not only have not been moments I chose in any ordinary way but that I could not have chosen them in any ordinary way)

In The Basement

I heard you down there
rustling around, reaching for
first love once again
in our love's basement,
looking for our first kisses
and the other first
things, our foundations.

That's how I know you've questioned
our life together.

August 24, 2009 12:56 PM

Friday, November 5, 2010

Venus Rising - The Birth Of Venus

In the last 30 years most art historians have dated the painting, based on its stylistic qualities, to c. 1485–87.

The iconography of The Birth of Venus is very similar to a description of the event (or rather, a description of a sculpture of the event) in a poem by Angelo Poliziano, the Stanze per la giostra. The painting takes the motif of Venus Anadyomene, depicting the Greek myth of the birth of Aphrodite, virginal and fully grown, rising from the sea. She does this cyclically and thus is her virginity renewed. This motif was common in ancient Greece and survived over a thousand years intact so that it was easy for Boticelli to know of it in the 1480s.

There are several interpretations of this painting by Sandro Boticelli ranging from the Neoplatonic influence of the then current Rennaisance thinking, but as well in honor of the Medici patrons, or a painting produced for a wedding, an attempt by Botticelli to revive and fulfill an earlier painting of Venus rumored to have been ruined - a painting of Venus with the model being Alexander's mistress, Pankaspe, and the painter Apelles, and even Christian symbology of Eve before and after the fall. There is no one interpretation that clearly carries the day. There are no records which allow us to know what Boticelli intended for certain. You can read all this and more on Wiki's site for The Birth Of Venus. There is a related site, Venus Anadyomene.

For myself, I first saw a reproduction of this painting while learning mythology in grade school, well before eighth grade. This painting of The Birth of Venus (full grown from the sea as per one of her main origin myths) has been with me most of my life. You may notice that there is not much realism here: in the real world the shell would tip over, and Venus could not hold that pose very long either. While Boticelli could be and mostly was much more realistic in his work, in this case he may have been imitating early classical style on purpose, mimicking the pictures found on Greek vases, and creating a definite fantasy world in any case.

Venus Rising

Treating the woman
as if she rose from the sea
sometimes works better
than giving her gems
or silver or golden rings.
I should know because
she once rose above
my willing bed and draped me
with seafoam and love.

August 23, 2009 12:36 AM

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Secret Life Of Plants

The Secret Life Of Plants came out in 1973. I read that book and it convinced me not so much that the book had it completely right but that something real was happening in the souls of plants. I was so convinced, found it so in keeping with my own experience that I am now fully of the faith that sentience extends down into complex plant life if not all the way through so called inanimate matter. There is always an inside to life and life may extend just as I say through it all.

The Ivy In My Life

The English ivy
climbs so slowly that I lose
sight of it's intent
until that one day
when I freak out completely
and begin frantic
remedial work
pulling it back down, hearing
its highly pitched shrieks.

August 23, 2009 12:00 AM

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Wait

This is not the work of Frank Kelly Freas

I Wait

Things go bump. My heart
tries matching the odd timing
of this final night
with no moon, no moon.
Soon I'll see them all
depart and I would go too
but I wait for you.
This was my promise.
I offered this solemn oath
to you last Tuesday.

August 22, 2009 8:14 PM

Now, remembering Kelly Freas:

Birth name Frank Kelly Freas
Born August 27, 1922
Hornell, New York, United States
Died January 2, 2005 (aged 82)
West Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States
Nationality American
Field Fantasy art, Illustration, science fiction art

This is the work of Kelly Freas. I grew up with him all over the SF magazines. I also saw his work in Mad Magazine.

Wiki says:


Born in Hornell, New York, United States, Freas (pronounced like the English word "freeze") was the son of two photographers, and was raised in Canada.[1] He was educated at Lafayette High School in Buffalo, where he received training from long-time art teacher Elizabeth Weiffenbach. Following college and the United States Army Air Forces, he went back to school at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and began work in advertising. He married Pauline (Polly) Bussard in 1952; they had two children, Jacqui and Jerry. Polly died of cancer in January 1987. In 1988 he married (and is survived by) Dr. Laura Brodian.

For Weird Tales (November 1950), Freas did his first fantasy magazine cover, illustrating H. Russell Wakefield's "The Third Shadow" with his painting "The Piper." With his illustrating career underway, he continued to devise unique and imaginative concepts for other fantasy and science fiction magazines of that period. In a field where airbrushing is common practice, paintings by Freas are notable for his use of bold brush strokes, and a study of his work reveals his experimentation with a wide variety of tools and techniques.

Cover art for Astounding Science Fiction (Oct 1953)
Over the next five decades, he created covers for numerous books and magazines, notably Astounding Science Fiction both before and after its title change to Analog; Mad magazine (for whom he painted many early covers featuring the iconic character, Alfred E. Neuman) from 1958 to 1962[2] (he started at Mad in February 1957 and by July 1958 was the magazine's new cover artist; he painted most of its covers until October 1962[1]); cover art for DAW, Signet, Ballantine Books, Avon, all 58 Laser Books (which are now collectors' items), and over 90 covers for Ace books alone. He was editor and artist for the first ten Starblaze books. He was a participant in one of the all-time great literary hoaxes, I, Libertine (Ballantine Books, 1956), along with Jean Shepherd, Ian Ballantine and Theodore Sturgeon, incorporating several hidden jokes and references into his cover painting for that book. That same year he drew cartoon illustrations for Bernard Shir-Cliff's The Wild Reader, also for Ballantine.

Freas was commissioned to paint the Skylab I insignia design and posters promoting the space program (used by NASA and now hanging in the Smithsonian Institution)[1]; pinup girls on bombers while in the United States Army Air Forces; comic book covers; the covers of the GURPS worldbooks Lensman and Planet Krishna; and many others, such as more than 500 saints' portraits for the Franciscans executed simultaneously with his portraits of Alfred E. Neuman ("What? Me Worry?") for Mad. He was very active in gaming and medical illustration. His cover of Queen's album News of the World (1977) was a pastiche of his much-admired sad robot cover illustrating Tom Godwin's "The Gulf Between" for Astounding Science Fiction (October 1953).[2][3]

Freas published several collections of his artwork and frequently gave presentations. His work appeared in numerous exhibitions. Among many other awards, Freas was the first person to receive ten Hugo awards. He was nominated 20 times. No other artist in science fiction has consistently matched his record. His smooth and luminous images, amiable aliens and sexy women have become part of today's science fiction visual language.

He died in West Hills and is buried in Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth. Both communities are suburbs of Los Angeles, California, in the San Fernando Valley.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bright Golden Haze

Bright Golden Haze

Wonder what the elephant is looking at. Wonder about a bunch of stuff. Sometimes I just twist off sideways. What happened, I was writing about a timeless spiritual moment and then I reached the place where nothing more can be said. The last four lines of this poem is just me trying to say I love you all...

I broke into almost song. Of course for those of you not so familiar with Oklahoma!, the last four lines of my poem are from a key song in that musical:

Oh What A Beautiful Day

There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye,
An' it looks like it's climbin' clear up to the sky.

Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I got a beautiful feelin'
Ev'rything's goin' my way.

All the cattle are standin' like statues
All the cattle are standin' like statues
They don't turn their heads as they see me ride by,
But a little brown mav'rick is winkin' her eye.

Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I got a beautiful feelin'
Ev'rything's goin' my way.

All the sounds of the earth are like music
All the sounds of the earth are like music
The breeze is so busy it don't miss a tree,
And a ol' weepin' willer is laughin' at me!

Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I got a beautiful feelin'
Ev'rything's goin' my way.
Oh, what a beautiful day!

That's what happens when a man falls in love, you know. At least that's what happens in Oklahoma!, the first musical of the great Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration.

This Is Just Twisted

Across space, across
time, it's still hazy like that,
the inside long view
of the deepest truth.

I fell timelessly at speed,
would die on impact
if it were solid
instead of the bright golden
haze on the meadow.

Haze on the meadow,
something about corn goes here,
elephant's eye too.

August 20, 2009 12:41 PM

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Playground Memory

This picture is me with Ditto standing outside our house on Oregon Street in Berkeley, California but I am older than I was when this happened to me. I am in third grade in the picture, I think. The day I went to the playground happened when I was in between first and second grade, I am fairly sure. I just felt like showing the cars and me at a small size. I am sporting the haircut that my Dad gave me. He cut my hair to save money we didn't have. We were very poor in these days.

We all have tough ones. This memory is one of mine. I would wander on my own through the streets of Berkeley. My mom thought nothing of it either, as long as I was in my time frame. I had already proved that I didn't get lost. I was only half a block from Le Conte Elementary school. It was just across Ellsworth Street. The playground was on the far side of the building. The neighborhood was lower middle class as the middle class was in the Fifties. We lived there because both Mom and Dad were finishing at Cal up Telegraph Avenue from where we lived. There was a black neighborhood in Berkeley, I think mainly because of World War II and the industrialization it caused. That neighborhood was a fairly long walk from the school where this occurred. There was not much reason for the black kids to be in the neighborhood except it was on the way to Oakland from their part of Berkeley. This sounds odd today but in the Fifties it wouldn't have. And it was a remarkable thing that the black youth could feel safe enough to wander like that in a small crowd. These were junior high kids I encountered and I assume that's what they were doing, going home from Oakland.

I am happy to report that I did not turn against blacks because of this encounter. I easily could have, I think.

A Playground Memory

That playground called me
on the wrong day, there alone
except for the crowd,
five blacks who showed up
for no damn reason that day
and one spit on me
Sen-Sen chunks, my face
wet and me with no idea
what just happened here.
I was six years old.
I do not like licorish
still at sixty three.

August 16, 2009 3:38 PM

I am actually nearing sixty five today.

Wiki says: "Sen-Sen is a type of breath freshener originally marketed as a "breath perfume" in the late nineteenth century by the T. B. Dunn Company, currently produced by F&F Foods. Sen-Sen bears a strong resemblance to Nigroids, a liquorice sweet made by Ernest Jackson & Company Ltd.
"Sen sen can be purchased today, usually in small packets. In the 1930's it was available in more convenient small cardboard boxes. Similar to a matchbox of the time, an inner box slid out from a cardboard sleeve revealing a small hole from which the tiny sen sen squares would fall when the box was shaken."

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