Monday, June 30, 2014

swimming with sharks

those checkercloth days of summer, the ones that prove the outfit,
sandals, shorts and shirts that show the bra straps, or even better,
near nakedness, purely dependable bands of swimsuit cupping only parts,
feet bare and pure in beach sand - they are fine, maybe very fine, 
maybe even very good in fact, the children's shoulders hot to touch, 
their feet wet in the muck of tadpoles, their faces strung 
with sticky smiles, watermelon, hotdog grease, strawberries,
fine, they are, very fine, often very good, sunspots proving it,
a sweet essence of accentuation, a gentle holy back lighting in the sky,
but the best, the most boastful and full to booming was that one day
when you all raced the sky's dark pulse on your bikes to the park
while everyone else was leaving, thunderstorms! a final denouement 
to any picnic, but there you were all hot and bothered, law breakers, bandits,
(of course the children then older); how the others shrieked as they pulled their ankles
inside of cars, while each of you was perusing the water's surface like a shark,
each now the same height, hovering through the zone of where water meets water
and pushes back; and the winds came too, they came at you and slanted everything
and you all withstood, whooping to the dark clouds that pressed darker,
and the sky's whooping met yours, or was that the earth's? terrible tremors
that could hardly be mistaken for playful, 
purple veins of clouds struck through further with zeus-like sulphur.
you see, it is not the airless days of summer when you run free without parameters that make you.
it's when the world presses down upon you and asks you to prove who you are.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

man's job is to ascertain by which means the mechanism might be created to extract the truth

 affix said gear

and grind


yes, always. with hands and feet, muscles, weight, but also - even with words and love.

the cleg, notes from a run yesterday

sitting on the slab of wet grey stone beside the river, deerflies darting my face, zoning in on my body, and worse, upon my sensibilities, my comfort, i decide to outlast them, to suffer through their torment, their temporary hell. and i do! with sheer jubilant obstinance.

smugly i reckon that death is like the deerfly, persistent and annoying. anyone might triumph over its suffering terror through endurance.

and then one cleg enters the world, one ordinary pernicious body of ripe terror, larger than the deerfly and more persistent. it finds me and assaults my every last fanciful notion.

i punch at the air. and each time i lose, even when once i win having punched one body to the rock, for each time i eradicate one body, it comes again in a new form, larger, more menacing, as though its anger amplifies from one defied body to the next.

to the body death is no deerfly, and ashamed, i now know, even the cleg is the puniest of things or ideas.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

notes, distance

sitting, early morning on a holiday weekend, the children newly gone, many happy and eager cars zipping past, i cover my face with my hair and hold my face. something is in the way, i notice. something is in the way of us being where we long to be.

each soul has a voice and each voice a soul

what is the soul anyway but a wound,
a vacancy in form which desire whistles through
and makes noise from?

in the bathroom this morning,
engaged in the upon-rising-constitutionals, 
i notice ants, again, crossing the floor in a scattering delusion.

my yesterday out, flush, wash hands, blow nose, eye drops in,
teeth brush, tongue out, a rapid rasping of what at night grew,
i bend and fill the small saucer with ambrosial potion.

who am i to think the ant has no soul?
the sweet orange juice momentarily laid out, 
one has already clenched the lip and tipped his tiny face to drink his ease.

when he chokes out will he be only like a small empty tube, 
a hollow bead, or will he stretch out his ant-thin arm
in an elongated gesture, why hast thou forsaken me?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

cobb test

card stock 



corn husks

even corian

beside each the droplet of water 

yesterday driving past the corvus struck,
half it's wing stuck straight up from its crook,
a complex break of bone, a crush, 
a fracture of the fine mesh-work of once order.

today transport collides with woman crossing at corner,
enters steal framed face into corpus zone (knuckles and ribs)
as though trying to look beneath water, 
ousting soul, completely, to the vagrancy of zero.

subtracting witnesses all intersections are silent now.

in my body floats the empty shell of an autumn seed,
jetsam, headed upon the wake for winter.
it presses its fingers against my lips.
i utter nothing, compelled by such pressure.

a few notes on dead ravens and old ladies

an uncanny event happened.  well, two events, unconnected, except in consequence.  and less uncanny, but ordinary, however what followed was new. 

driving to work the other day i passed a raven which had been struck on the busy highway, all those families in relatively well behaved fast lines racing toward a few cloying summer memories, thickening their sense of nostalgia, sweetening their pot of place in the world. he laid on the center meridian, his black wing jacked at such an angle that it was like a small sign post, his feathers raked in the wind of each new passing vehicle. but i had just seen another raven a day before on the garbage shed behind my work as i dragged out recyclables! alive! his beak hooked, stalwart in its ravenness, formidable. he had hopped along the crest of the building, deliberating, demonstrating to me longing, dragging his particular cranked call up from his ragged feet and throwing it past his trumpet-thick chest into the world. as i neared him he propelled himself into the air, a heavy body working its momentum, and he glided, some mechanical mystery which understands through body how to negotiate these physical systems, toward the deep grasses in the field behind the garbage shed.

but then the dead raven in the roadway, its wing very much like corrugated cardboard, cars zipping past it, the pavement unmarred even with blood.

and yesterday's morning news, my coworker having observed this, the 91 year old woman in a nearby town who demonstrated, let's say, the Pauli exclusion principle, she moving into the road and the transport moving into her and there being a catastrophic coming together and then apart, a conversion which released her energy to the world's invisible and left her husk of a body prostrate, to herself now ineffectual and inconsequential, upon the suddenly stilled road.

now, these are everyday occurrences. every day animals, people, die. but what happened inside my perception of this situation was formidable, or at least was for me. an empty electron (which was experiential knowledge of this happening) erupted into being inside of me (or did i only identify the spark of void which i came into being around?) and then floated through my mind. inside this empty electron is what is inside emptiness: nothing. putting my mind's hands along the edge of the shell of this electron i can feel the exact form of emptiness.  against this my breath does not leave me, but simply erases itself.  somewhere inside of me i can touch nothingness, the thing which has no skin.

so what? i practice death in my mind all the time so that i might begin to understand living.

and yet never have i before touched, not annihilation, but the exact essence of void.

mind you, in relation to my rather large-to-my-consciousness presence, i have touched it only minutely.

and yet, even if only minutely - what wonder to put your finger against that which in this living form seems logically impossible!

i step back from it as though from the threshold of a house floating in the ether of nothingness with its door gaping open. and i do.not.know whether to be afraid or not. fear seems irrelevant.  all i do know is that we must, must, in the meantime, cherish with awe and wonder this only for a moment distinct and notable, knowable only because of distance and therefore being, somethingness.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


sea anemones gulp starlight
puffballs translate the ticky-tack of ant's feet
a norse wheel treads deeply in Antipater's throat
the lover consumes draughts of galaxies trying to
(but failing) to get to his beloved
night threads the needle and stitches asparagus cloaks 
   in mere hours
the indisputable argument decisively laid to rest
and stitched into dear pascal's clothing
while darkness disperses its grains to daylight
one word proof like: anemone, puffball, poetry, love, dawn,

Friday, June 20, 2014


for james

nothing had words until you
and so did not exist

"Conjuring" by  Hilda Morley

Finding the names of birds here,
of flowers, important, I say I must
know them, name them,

                                        to be able
to call upon where their magic
resides for me: in naming them
myself - to lay hold upon whatever
quivers inside the bird-calls,
                                          the dipping
of tail or wing -
                          to know it
inside my hand where power
of that sort lives
                           & in my fingers
wakes & becomes
                            an act of

Thursday, June 19, 2014


after the train moves down the track 
the day is quieter than it was - before

     the shadow of the leaves
is the pocket of light - only

     one voice is needed to clip silence
and fold the world from void - into being

for instance a snake moving through water
a line which makes what is inside it as real as that which is not

identiy and desire

for the women who excite me 

 "Poem" by Hilda Morley

    What utters
me is a stranger,
      is another
     My words take on
     they turn
away.  I hurtle
in their tracks.
     The masks that hide
them are beaked,
     are hairy,
are painted white -
          They turn away
their faces.

a very good introductory essay to the poetics of Hilda Morley, who i did not know, can be read here, if you take a moment to set up a free account (which is worth it!), "A Stranger's Utterance: Hilda Morley's Poetics of Self-Definition", by Matilde  Mª Martín González.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

notes on the body and being family

i have known my children and my children's bodies for twelve and fourteen years, every day of their lives, and they have known mine. it will remain this way for me forever. i will forever carry knowledge of their young selves directly inside my body. they will however, in time, forget in their high minds the knowledge they have of mine and remember only in their low minds, subconsciously; or the old knowledge will become replaced with new and active knowledge. and i will never intimately know their adult bodies. so it will be. but always, in their beginning, we came from one another.

but how different it is with my lover. his body exists on the outside of mine and so no matter how badly i want him in, or how badly he wants in, or no matter how badly i want into his body, or how badly he wants me to break into his, there remains a stubborn and damnable barrier, the barrier at which point all pleasure is born, not pleasure in the obvious sense (but that too), but pleasure in the sense that any brief distance breeds existence, creation, the same distance which might reside between light and form, experience and perception, and perception and art (art being the hard copy of mindfulness, but mindfulness itself as well).

both in the world and in my mind leaves move and cast their shadows and i know these shadows, i know the origin of them and i feel in my cells the same structure of the leaves, the same source of them, and so through the revelation of light and form i learn that my lover and i were once cast from the same source, that we are brother and sister, this season's foliage along the otherwise bare branch.

he says, like two mists of cloud blurred together,

but i say, how does the candle burn,
from its inside, from its outside,
or does some shadow pin with seraphim's hands
its flame to its core?

Monday, June 16, 2014

will your life force come into you?
will you move closer?
will i smell you, see you, feel you?
will you open your mouth? 
will you make particular sounds?
will you move your eyes in their sockets?
will your mind move through you?
will you think things?
will you have urges, repulsions, revelations?
will things move through your intestines?
will you eat? 
will you want to eat? 
will you turn away from food?
will you look out a window?
will you look beneath the bed?
will you lie on the bed? 
will you be fitful?
will you thumb pages? 
will you be stricken by a poem?
will you hear a bird?
will you get an erection?
will your life force move further?
will you be afraid?
will you be hopeful?
will you get angry?
will you be confused and not know the names of the life force?
will you remember when you were a boy?
will you remember yesterday?
what will you think of tomorrow?
will you fear war?
will you hate man?
will you help our neighbour?
will you think of me?
will you love me?
will you consider the children?
will you yearn for others?
will you love yourself?
what words will come to your tongue?
what words will congeal in your mind?
what events press upon you, cause you, make you?
what events do you ignore?
will your hair grow?
will your beard whiten?
will you get another erection?
will your hands handle me?
will you want me?
what will you smell like?
are you hungry now?
will you eat?
are you yet looking out the window?
will you open it?
what are the thoughts in your mind?
what are the words in your mouth?
are you afraid again?
are you hopeful?
do you breathe and try not to feel?
do you feel deeply?
do you shatter?
horrors happen, you know.
is your life force yet moving into you?
does it sustain or grow you?
does it push out of your body?
are you empty?
are you full?
do you need to eat?
do you need to touch me?
are you tired?
will you walk in the world?
will you move beyond walls?
will you go far from man?
will you go toward the beavers and the beaver damns?
will you go toward the water?
will you help the girl and her mother?
will you take their fish from their hook?
will you tell them that yes, it is dying? 
is sure to die? 
is dead?
will you protect the children from truth?
no, the window is open.
i know you are hungry.
i know things move through your intestines.
i know the birds are calling.
i know there are horrors in the world.
i know you hope. 
i know you fear. 
i know -
do you love me?
will you touch me?
is your life force moving into you?
will you get an erection?
will you open your mouth?
what thoughts move through your mind?
what words congeal on your tongue?
will you fear war, hate man, help our neighbour?
will you move into me?
will you come closer?
will you open a poem?

notes on cows and ferns and beauty, in other words: redemption or grace

this is how i aim to live these days, hold my mind, my self, loosely like a ream of papers, curiously watching what falls and to where, and what stays and how.

more and more i am excited by what falls. and by how little stays.

and more and more i have less choice but to escape from what is normally attractive to others, the hinge and torque of social gathering or societal powers.

and i more than long to loose myself in the ecstatic hum of the natural world, i simply do.

in an important article by roger scruton, "Celebrity Fun Vs. Sacred Joy" (i somewhat lament the title as it is so much more than celebrity that scruton rebukes but the established order of consumer society itself and that which it represents, our dysfunction in our place of natural order) he writes, "The enjoyment of beauty is never addictive, however intensely it affects us." while i agree with him wholeheartedly on other points in this article, i disagree with him on this one. i am ruined to ugliness (ugliness is the state in which sacredness is actively desecrated). ruined. i am so high inside the light of ferns, i am bereft without it. cows thundering over a meadow toward me the other night! cows thundering away from me two weeks ago! i am equally delighted. equally overwrought, undone. considering the poppy's petals. my body passing through shadow. breaking into sunlight. i am a fool. i am so easily touched by the ecstatic. but so urgently lost without it.

two nights ago? a fox moved across a field so quickly and in ways i never knew were possible. verbs are as unknowable as nouns. we only guess at them.  i sit now for a moment with my hands over my mouth. i can't explain. i know my mind doesn't contain the facility to understand. he moved as though on a ripcord, pulled steadily and quickly like an amber silhouette, a cut-out on a string tied to god's fingers. after something like this how is anyone to manage?

but - i chasten myself, if wholeness is that which should be considered, i have to accept the other states, not be so easily ruined.

james wrote to me about the poppy which lost its petals in twelve hours, "a reminder that we are flesh ... and a reminder that their beauty would be nothing if this falling didn't happen". and so too ecstasy gets her flesh and value up against desecration?

the poppy, the fox, the cows and the fern.

we gathered yesterday for father's day.  my mother is in her 70's. i in my 40's. we sat like mirrors to one another pounding the island saying what was revelation to both of us, "it is happening so fast this year!" we meant of course, the leaves, the trillium, the strawberries,  the lupines, the poppies, and now already the wild orchids. two short months ago there was a call for people to make cuttings for the starving to death deer and now there is plenty and we are passing through it.

the other day i was bereft, too much work, too much ego, too much consumption. i longed to lie down amongst the cattle, be with their soft breathing, their musky smells which settle into the nest of the throat, their communal warmth, their jersey reddish hue not so unlike the fox. i knew i could be well if i could just munch grass. cattle felt like going home,  not to the farm, but to somewhere before the farm. and my longing to lie down with them was not so unlike yearning to lie beside my beloved.

this is the world. and i, for no good reason other than luck, know the greatest love through the escstatic.

love? well, we will call it that for now for lack of the better word.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

i seem to run with trajectory while the small boy runs in circles, saturday, june 14

through the park today i run, the dry scent of last year's pine needle bed in my nose and exiting through my throat, scraping past memories, enlivening them, they capitulating as easily as ghosts, the scent keen upon its exit as it arrives. that it is last year's bed of needles that smells so pungent is not lost on me, one year exiting through another as it does, one season threaded toward the future (in its intensity and unhalting budding, in its evolution - i can not keep abreast of what comes to life and what dies back!) while necessarily through the fabric of the past.

i come upon a clearing where a small boy of maybe 2 or 3 is running in circles with his arms above his head, reaching toward the kite which flies erratically above him in the wind. he knows he will not reach it. that is hardly the point. joyfully he swoops, so alive in his body, laughing, steeped in joy.  off to the right i can't see the father right away, who will come into view holding the spool and working the string. when i see him i laugh and go wide around him, he nipping in toward his son.  far left and unseen in the forest is what sounds like an older boy. his father, i presume, has called upon him and he shouts back with a mouthful of razors, "i'm going to have a nap!"

behind me the small boy follows my steps along the path. he calls to me, "hey, you, don't you know? this is a Spiderman kite!"

i shout back, "awesome!"

my boy once loved Spiderman and my girl has always loved her defiance.

there are no strings, only loose thread.

i run through the park nearly weeping, not for the children or the parents or the seasons or the fleeting moments, but because the rich fern is rich, the sweet moss grows musky, and my legs, strong today, manage to carry me.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

it's complicated

shot out from me, the lead bullet, 14 years ago,
she's angst with lackadaisical fashion, plotted, plotting
upon rising from bed,

he, always the soft spot between us, the wound,
the encapsulation of goodness in the human package,
head in my lap,

but it's not that easy, never white and black,
she writing out love song lyrics, earbuds budding notions,
while he's busy killing on the x-box, nuzzling, braying,

have i saved you, mom?

Friday, June 13, 2014

god help us if the sunlight 
ever creeps down from the heavens
and raises each leaf so loftily
they ascend and ascend and ascend

it is the incomplete act which shines

so i am i and you are you
and all this longing 
         like leaves and light between us

Thursday, June 12, 2014


the trees from the earth,
the mountains from the plains,
even the valleys from the fields,

the killdeer's sunfired eyes from its fawn feathers,
the man's veins tight and blue from the living ridge of knuckles,
even amorphous notches of spalted maple,

each distinction for a reason.

lay your mind or heart to it like a hand -
   this is language,
perfect translation,
   feel the word.

born to seek the beloved

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

incontrovertible, notes

my coworker sums up to a stranger that i am an odd and peaceful sort, ie., i don't like killing, i like swamps

but pipes in to me with afterthought, you know, every time you step, you're a moss killer.


i tell my daughter i long to live in the woods with no electricity.

heating, she asks dryly?  

well, yes, i surrender.

that's a whole lot of lives of trees.


born, we kill.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

7 a.m, bedside

the boy, in his incredibly immense and unfolding body, substantial like a heavy tarp, lies sleeping. out from beneath his small blanket his feet are now, inconceivably, size 11.  can this be so? what are they made of? mother's pies and reading stories together? surely such flesh is not born of such stuff.  and yet here they reside on the bottom of his large and steadily growing hairy legs.  what weight, this boy! did she really used to carry him, from car, to house, to cookie jar?  under the boy's matted darkening hair swarm thoughts she can't imagine. yesterday he and his grandfather, his Poopa, flipped a boat over, june 8th; a nest of wasps became apparent. the boy, yet being a boy, poked at it with a stick. they discovered the nest was not abandoned. instead the boy standing alongside the growing older man appraised the writhing bodies of the eggs (writhing!), certainly soon to hatch, to take to the air, to become new and elongated menacing bodies. like all good men with forethought they killed them.  now my boy lies sleeping before me. what goes on darkly and real in his head? colonies. colonies upon colonies of writhing that he will carry as a swarm of himself, until they too one day disappear.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

for annell and jim, how my heart hurts for you in witness

beside the river i lay, prostrate
put my hand to the water
open a small pocket, a wake

here, i want to say, we are
we love, we play
and here goes the river on after

it is no easy thing
but of the largest magnitude, this gesture
stroking the river 

Friday, June 6, 2014

man, beast and world order, a few imcomplete notes from a day trip to elliot lake

driving through the good clean bog with my mind dispersed to light, my blood seeks and finds its knowledge in my dark veins, that life is goodness. here moose are their most well chomping yellow pond lily, water shield and pondweed. and in the wake of the water plants and moose and mosquitoes, i too am well.

as i drive i consider what it is to be human.

i)  notes from my morning drive:

on god and being and the universe:

it all becomes a little clearer. and by this i mean it becomes looser inside of what i know as i loosen my hold on man's place in the universe, for what can man know of the universe anyway but his own relationship to it?

it all must begin with identity. and a constant questioning upon the nugget of self must lead to the knowledge of our small and temporal foothold.

what can the stone know about being the stone? nothing. but in our so-called elevated state of consciousness, with our ability to name ourselves and the stones surrounding us, we feel we are special. but what is our consciousness but a result of miraculous physical embodiment? just as the stone is miraculously physically embodied. only we have this curious adjunct to our embodiment.

can we not truly understand ourselves through our deaths? when will we accept that once the body dies we will be converted from this particular physical embodiment and consequential consciousness into new living forms?

we must let go of our protective precociousness of self.

and we must restrict our transference of precociousness onto god.

isn't it only fear, or discomfort, which asks for us to recognize a god of love?  isn't it because we struggle to recognize love in ourselves?

but it takes no close scrutiny to see otherwise, that love is not the exclusive end in terms of humanity.

what of nature?

and on the problem of morality - how such diverse cultures express what seems a higher order of rules?  spoken by god?  what of each beaver in the world constructing a lodge, a damn of similar persuasion? could it not be a biological consequence, a positioning of the mind, the electronics and natured nuances of chemicals and other biological facets that call us to a certain (evolutionary) order?

and why should biology be a disappointment? how is this miraculous natural world any less because one being (perhaps) does not stand outside of it?

does the bird only have value because we see it? appraise it? name it? desire something of it?  - or even the stone?

it is its being which makes it holy.

why do we resist being holy in our simple embodiment? why do we require someone to stand outside of us to appraise us, to name us, to judge us?

what if we held ourselves responsible for goodness?

what if we made love the destination because it is the higher order, good food for our consciousness?

(*i need a reference here, a philosopher who summed up all of goodness or love or morality with a question. i meant to ask james about him last night.)

more and more things become clearer when i am willing to lay down the self, this temporary place, this resistance, and note how the world operates at a heightened register as one organism.

this is god enough for me. in truth, this is incredibly awesome.

(*i reserve the right to change my mind at any moment.)

ii) notes from my afternoon drive:

before i left town this morning my car hit the robin's skull, grazed it. i slowed, but was it too late? but the robin didn't tumble. it recovered in air and lit the tree. the simultaneous opening of its wings as it lit looked to me like the prayer robes of the truly solemn man, opening to the wind.

violence. i wanted a day of non-violence. i kept the radio firmly off.

but what was on the road up ahead? a small painted turtle.

i pulled my car quickly to the side and i ran out, narrowly escaping with my antics myself which are not necessarily approved of.  what an inconvenience i was in the middle of the road trying to spare one small and inconsequential life.

in my hand was a weight. in my hand was something no one might measure. i tried to train my mind to understand that while it felt like a thing, this turtle, it was organic, energy, life, not so different from me.

i rushed him to one side saying to him and laughing, i hope this is where you were headed.

i thought of jane hirshfield's poem "One Sand Grain Among The Others In Winter Wind" which says of a leaf, "Not this one, this one will be saved."

i thought of li young lee's blind father in his poem "Persimmons", "Some things never leave a person:/scent of the hair of one you love,/the texture of persimmons,/in your palm, the ripe weight."

i thought of james's poem, "Albedo" which ends with me trying to rescue the caterpillar.

each poem asks us into life.  each poem asks us to open our robes and let the wind blow us further open.

my threadbare gingham shirt flapped about my chest as i ran back to my car. the last honks dimmed as the afternoon light strengthened.

but, there is always another curve up ahead.  and who am i to understand what we are to do?

another turtle.

my elation of my first rescue was chastened.  this turtle was bigger. and the road curved, more dangerous. and there was no shoulder. but who was i to say not this life, not this one?  i went to him realizing i would have to, if i meant for any one turtle to be saved, i would have to go to every turtle, success or failure, each and every time, no excuses.

he was heavy. big. he was old. his shell was already cracked. a long dead bug hung from its stubborn unchewing mouth.  his claws were curled. he was a snapper.

i waved cars around his loathsome body. i tried to wave a transport but it honked and came straight for us both. i had to jump aside and cover my eyes. he drove over it. but over it. it was still intact not having been touched. and then another car. and then a jeep. and then a camper trailer. no one stopping despite my waving. wtf was i to do? down the escarpment i pulled on a broken tree, pulled from its soft decayed center a makeshift board, the harder and more enduring epidermis. and then i scrambled back up onto the road.

but the turtle did not want to move. it resisted me. countered me in every direction with a threatening mouth, thrusting out at me once violently and causing my heart to beat harder than at any on-coming vehicle. bastards. bastard cars. bastard transports. bastard drivers and bastard turtle. and yet i did not want to give up. i pushed at him more recklessly, knowing it was either this or certain death. i flipped him a couple times. mustard coloured liquid seeped along the rim of his shell.  was it my doing?  damn you, i told him.  this will have to be the way.  damn you, i told him again, as i flipped him and pushed him and threatened him with the way i felt the world was threatening me. until i finally pushed him over the escarpment toward the swamp i hoped he would find and keep his home in.

but what do i know? and what can i do? what should i do?

iii) notes that are and are not my own, upon my return home; a poem my husband forwarded to me while i was gone:

Animals and People: The Human Heart in Conflict With Itself
by pattiann rogers

Some of us like to photograph them. Some
of us like to paint pictures of them. Some of us
like to sculpt them and make statues and carvings
of them. Some of us like to compose music
about them and sing about them. And some of us
like to write about them.

Some of us like to go out
and catch them and kill them and eat them. Some
of us like to hunt them and shoot them and eat them.
Some of us like to raise them, care for them and eat
them. Some of us just like to eat them.

And some of us
name them and name their seasons and name their hours,
and some of us, in our curiosity, open them up
and study them with our tools and name their parts.
We capture them, mark them and release them,
and then we track them and spy on them and enter
their lives and affect their lives and abandon
their lives. We breed them and manipulate them
and alter them. Some of us experiment
upon them.

We put them on tethers and leashes,
in shackles and harnesses, in cages and boxes,
inside fences and walls. We put them in yokes
and muzzles. We want them to carry us and pull us
and haul for us.

And we want some of them
to be our companions, some of them to ride on our fingers
and some to ride sitting on our wrists or on our shoulders
and some to ride in our arms, ride clutching our necks.
We want them to walk at our heels.

We want them to trust
us and come to us, take our offerings, eat from our hands.
We want to participate in their beauty. We want to assume
their beauty and so possess them. We want to be kind
to them and so possess them with our kindness and so
partake of their beauty in that way.

And we want them
to learn our language. We try to teach them our language.
We speak to them. We put our words in their mouths.
We want them to speak. We want to know what they see
when they look at us.

We use their heads and their bladders
for balls, their guts and their hides and their bones
to make music. We skin them and wear them for coats,
their scalps for hats. We rob them, their milk
and their honey, their feathers and their eggs.
We make money from them.

We construct icons of them.
We make images of them and put their images on our clothes
and on our necklaces and rings and on our walls
and in our religious places. We preserve their dead
bodies and parts of their dead bodies and display
them in our homes and buildings.

We name mountains
and rivers and cities and streets and organizations
and gangs and causes after them. We name years and time
and constellations of stars after them. We make mascots
of them, naming our athletic teams after them. Sometimes
we name ourselves after them.

We make toys of them
and rhymes of them for our children. We mold them
and shape them and distort them to fit our myths
and our stories and our dramas. We like to dress up
like them and masquerade as them. We like to imitate them
and try to move as they move and make the sounds they make,
hoping, by these means, to enter and become the black
mysteries of their being.

Sometimes we dress them
in our clothes and teach them tricks and laugh at them
and marvel at them. And we make parades of them
and festivals of them. We want them to entertain us
and amaze us and frighten us and reassure us
and calm us and rescue us from boredom.

We pit them
against one another and watch them fight one another,
and we gamble on them. We want to compete with them
ourselves, challenging them, testing our wits and talents
against their wits and talents, in forests and on plains,
in the ring. We want to be able to run like them and leap
like them and swim like them and fly like them and fight
like them and endure like them.

We want their total
absorption in the moment. We want their unwavering devotion
to life. We want their oblivion.

Some of us give thanks
and bless those we kill and eat, and ask for pardon,
and this is beautiful as long as they are the ones dying
and we are the ones eating.

And as long as we are not
seriously threatened, as long as we and our children
aren't hungry and aren't cold, we say, with a certain
degree of superiority, that we are no better
than any of them, that any of them deserve to live
just as much as we do.

And after we have proclaimed
this thought, and by so doing subtly pointed out
that we are allowing them to live, we direct them
and manage them and herd them and train them and follow
them and map them and collect them and make specimens
of them and butcher them and move them here and move
them there and we place them on lists and we take
them off of lists and we stare at them and stare
at them and stare at them.

We track them in our sleep.
They become the form of our sleep. We dream of them.
We seek them with accusation. We seek them
with supplication.

And in the ultimate imposition,
as Thoreau said, we make them bear the burden
of our thoughts. We make them carry the burden
of our metaphors and the burden of our desires and our guilt
and carry the equal burden of our curiosity and concern.
We make them bear our sins and our prayers and our hopes
into the desert, into the sky, into the stars.
We say we kill them for God.

We adore them and we curse
them. We caress them and we ravish them. We want them
to acknowledge us and be with us. We want them to disappear
and be autonomous. We abhor their viciousness and lack
of pity, as we abhor our own viciousness and lack of pity.
We love them and we reproach them, just as we love
and reproach ourselves.

We will never, we cannot,
leave them alone, even the tiniest one, ever, because we know
we are one with them. Their blood is our blood. Their breath
is our breath, their beginning our beginning, their fate
our fate.

Thus we deny them. Thus we yearn
for them. They are among us and within us and of us,
inextricably woven with the form and manner of our being,
with our understanding and our imaginations.
They are the grit and the salt and the lullaby
of our language.

We have a need to believe they are there,
and always will be, whether we witness them or not.
We need to know they are there, a vigorous life maintaining
itself without our presence, without our assistance,
without our attention. We need to know, we must know,
that we come from such stock so continuously and tenaciously
and religiously devoted to life.

We know we are one with them,
and we are frantic to understand how to actualize that union.
We attempt to actualize that union in our many stumbling,
ignorant and destructive ways, in our many confused
and noble and praiseworthy ways.

For how can we possess dignity
if we allow them no dignity? Who will recognize our beauty
if we do not revel in their beauty? How can we hope
to receive honor if we give no honor? How can we believe
in grace if we cannot bestow grace?

We want what we cannot
have. We want to give life at the same moment
we are taking it, nurture life at the same moment we light
the fire and raise the knife. We want to live, to provide,
and not be instruments of destruction, instruments
of death. We want to reconcile our "egoistic concerns"
with our "universal compassion." We want the lion
and the lamb to be one, the lion and the lamb within
finally to dwell together, to lie down together
in peace and praise at last.

the pink and the other orchid

is it pink? she asked, as though pink might mean something specific, might contain within itself enough distance to feel safe, or at least intoxicated inside its brief but heady perfume.

well, sure it is pink, but it is also black and white. it is always this way. do you see the spine there revealed? do you see the jaws? the orchid wears the tuxedo, the backside of pink's robes.

should i be frightened? something of it frightens me. it glistens like black glass. tell me, is it frightening?

it is a flower, my dear, only a flower.  so yes, be very afraid. and from your trembling place of fear, kiss me. a kiss is always sweetest this way.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

trading post

carefully we workers slit the seams of cardboard
and fold the boxes down upon themselves
and stack them neatly into a larger box.
we are recycling. saving the environment. with our excess.
our hands are then busy removing made in china labels
to trick you, yes, you of the sweet nostalgic feelings,
into a mathematically proven formula,
vacation + cheap (but a convincing price point) 
goods (as in local merchandise) 
= memories
and memories translate directly from and into dollars
and dollars into my lucky family eating,
pulling on an extra sweater in the winter
to compensate for the house's internal thermostat
which i do not dare raise,
and too, adjunct by-product, creation, formidable sum,
translate into the owner's lucky family expanding their heated pool.
rilke says this world is made of conversions,
"we are bees of the Invisible."
we are born with two fine hands to aid us in this translation.
oh, desirous trinkets, matryoshka dolls with the face of natives,
toppling towers of dream catchers and buckets of bear tooth,
how many bears do you think it takes to fill one container?
how many bad dreams are caught in badly spun factory fabric?
there is no vacation, ever, not even now, from what we reposition,
time to experience, experience to necessity, excess to desecration.
you tell me, what is the true economy of man?
where is our honey? indeed, what we produce is invisible. 

i think this box can contain a little more recycled cardboard.
i slit the seam. it's not yet nearly lunchtime.

Monday, June 2, 2014

a very good day

and even the lowliest of trees
that were bent near the breaking point with the last snow
are blooming now
and the blueberry bushes are blooming
and the wild strawberry plants are blooming
and the sweetgrass is sweeteniung on the warm sweet wind

foxes and felling trees (wherein i am not excluded from the problem)

driving up the tote road hopeful, expectant even, me and my boy, to find the fox's skull that james drove up the road in the late snow-deep march. last i saw it i had carried it on a stick from the middle of the road to the bushes which scrape the road's side.  twice before in checking on it a raven or vulture had dragged it crudely back, central.  but i wanted to protect it from the tires. and each time the bird, whatever the kind, was only hungry, not thinking in terms of the value of a shiny skull, but responding to the dark wordless chorus of its blood, the needs of its body.

along the way my boy tells me a story: the untanned man sets aside his suit jacket and picks up the axe from beside his back door. he walks out into the forest, his shiny shoes becoming dusty. he picks up the axe and rends the tree.  what has been mostly sleeping in his shoulders, in the ridges of his muscled shafts, is translated down through his arms and then into the wooden haft of the axe, through the hard cold metal axe head and then jumps like ember into the tree.  he likes doing this a lot.  

well, what he really says is, mom, you will be so disappointed.  mr. v (the principal and my boy's second best friend, me being his first) cuts down trees for fun. he watches me to see my response.

oh, mr. v., i understand the pleasure.  i understand the formidable and resonant point of intersection. but yes, i am sad. if only later you went to the river and pulled from its skin a body. if only you slit it and tumbled free the entrails. if only then you bent and coaxed the wood's ember. if only you sat before the fire hungry and also burned. (are you sad too, mr. v.?)

we arrive again at the place where i last hid the fox skull. once again the raven or vulture has pulled it to the center of the road. the skull lies flat like rotten sticks after many seasons, or a scattering of pine needles, or pennies lost in the forest from man's linty pocket, useless to the economy of survival. i can not fault the birds, but i do the tire marks.


(it's some time later after reading much wonderful and important poetry here that i realize it is not sad that he thought i would be, or even disappointed, but ashamed.  yes, ashamed, a much more active word, one loaded with responsibility.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

real planets do travel, and space junk, etc.

he comes into the store shouting like a drunk guy at a party, hnnnnnn,
guttural, his black spleen lurching out of orbit.  we lock eyes.  
but this is no party his friends seem to say, they locking eyes 
in the coordinates of their secret star sparkling pact, together.  
shut this guy up, their faces guide, silently.  he's out of order.  
push him harder into role of man in mid-30's walks casually in public space
instantly i love him.  now swooping around him, a pack of burning comets,
they usher him through the store, toward the bathroom, 
careful as possible in their trajectory not to break a thing.  
he's lopsided, swiveling around a center no one can see
but obviously it's there, some magnetic pole that pulses between his hips
unlike anything anyone on the outside knows, we of gentle obeyance.  
his body like a turnstile, his sloppy foot the polar axis.  look out! one might say, 
suddenly ducking, there comes a wide sweeping Pluto
or a teeny tiny surprise-you-in-your-face rogue satellite!  
they pull him from the lock of my eyes toward the hallway.  
there's more howling into the abyss for him to do.
he clomps toward the back of the store, most shoppers uninterrupted.
but i've been interrupted.  i've been nudged from my smooth elliptical order.  
i'm far out beyond the rings of Saturn imagining
what it would be like to pull back the clean white sheets of existence
from the dank black heavens of the desperate long night of embodiment
and take into my body the only thing that might heal me,
another human being's so-called brokenness, his honesty, his perfection, his plea.