Monday, September 29, 2014

antidote crow

 Art is not consciousness per se, but rather its antidote — evolved from within consciousness itself.
fog. thick fog. and each crow knows his place larger than before. throws his black chest out before him a perpetual carpet oddly invisible against the invisible world. by degrees: one crow on a line, a clef, one crow in snag, a glyph, one crow through the air, his beak open, sound nowhere.

sontag wrote, "Art that is 'silent' constitutes one approach to this visionary, ahistorical condition." and, "A stare is perhaps as far from history, as close to eternity, as contemporary art can get."

wrote, not said.

the crow has not unhitched himself from history. the world has done it for him, does this.

find yourself gliding over the chasm. find yourself lost. then larger perhaps, who knows, but found.

but where?

where you always were.

open your eyes, your mouth.


*“The Aesthetics of Silence” (1967) Susan Sontag

Sunday, September 28, 2014

i was thinking...

it all depends on how you assign value.
it's done in us. it's not done for us.
the good word. the good deed. the good man.
it's so good it's sinful. it's a lazy swat at momentum.
and bad. the counter cheek? bad seed. bad deeds. bad luck.
again, a manipulation of how we might should move.

consciousness. think about it. good? bad?
now think about no consciousness.

this good life with all of its bad states of affairs.
you had better make the best of it.

now best, there's a word! pure guidance.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

even haberdashers die too

it's true, the world goes on for quite some time, forever one might say
but of course we'd be wrong, at least from our point of view,
and it's true, we might spend all sorts of time honing in on things
like skirt lines, neck lines, the nips of waists, tucks of tails or height of hats
(once the Hetherington, at first was quite a shock, 
then modified and tipped just right, could unlatch any latch)
but if we keep in mind the mastodon, the Eskimo 
(all old world cultures adapted now to something new and improved) 
or the Christmas Island musk-shrew gone thanks to the Maclear's rat 
(now gone, of course, too, thanks to the versatile black rat
and our natural inclination to well intentioned expeditions),
and recognize they are all only our own squalling transcendental double selves times two,
well then, it shifts just a bit, doesn't it, our point of view?


beside the fact we're killing the world, this hilarious tidbit taken from the Kilmore Free Press, Thursday April 11th, 1912:

 The First High Hat. 

It was in January, 1797, that the first high silk bat was seen upon a man's head. The London "Times", in its issue of 16th January of that year related the event as follows: "John Hetherington, mercer in the Strand, was arraigned before the Lord Mayor, who found him guilty of disorderly conduct and inciting to riot, and imposed a fine of £500. Mr Hetherington, with the evident intention of frightening the people, appeared in the public street wearing a strange high hat cov ered with very glossy silk, the lustre of which dazzled the sight. According to the testimony of the constables, several women fainted at the sight, children screamed with fright and one of the sons of Mr Thomas Currier was thrown down in the excitment and broke his arm,"

now, if only we could muster some reaction to our continued desecration of the ground we stand on and the air we breathe.

Friday, September 26, 2014

ticker tape

comet tails 
emblems of sulfured stars 
the black sky
licking light across the dashboard down 
scintillating thoughts 
sputtering piffling epiphanies

and beneath 
the coyote on the plain
pressing upward
mouth open
howling wide

Thursday, September 25, 2014

if god were a throat then each of us is a part of his swallowing

i try to be careful with how i live, which means (firstly, always firstly) i try to be careful with how i think.

life does not always afford us the opportunity in each moment for gracious living, or at least my life doesn't, or at least i choose to fail often. my failing culminates in a wound. my wound i use as a small fire to warm myself upon, hoping that cumulatively the opportunities, failed and succeeded, might add up to grace.

grace causes me to weep. it is complicated. it is shame but not primarily. it is recognition of greatness beyond myself but that which pardons me by also threading through me. it is so much greater than what i can perceive i cow to it. it is so much greater than what i can perceive and so i rise toward it.

i feel as though i barely have the parts, the assemblage, to lend me the capability to bear it.

i am rudimentary and temporary.

grace is perfect, all, and eternal.

the stone is grace. birds. trees. water. snow. pain is grace. joy. love.

fear is not grace but overcoming fear is.

small birds outside my window which look not much larger than gravel from this perspective flutter along the gravel lined ditch right now. always, the inanimate is animate, whether we can perceive it or not. and whether we perceive it or not, it is an unbearable abundance.

i write these small things so that i don't forget. the horrible times are my largest failing, the times when i forget.


words are little bowls holding water

I clasp my hands together between my legs 
and line my thumbs up against one another. 
these quiet mornings are breath to my spirit. 
    I need them so. 
the small birds which pop outside my window
like animated gravel in the ditch are like words, 
poetry, small things imbued with greater significance. 
like this, feeling my one hand against the other, 
feels astounding. i open them and have a bowl.
I have hands! I nearly weep.


if god were a throat then each of us is a part of his swallowing

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

part ii, after sadness goes something like this

driving the dirt road through the woods, autumn, camera beside me, notebook, a book of poetry, olafur arnalds playing on the stereo, horizontal curves and arches, more crests, deep depressions and swamps. around one curve i look down to find my fingers moving. with this hand i have taken many photographs. i have read and with this hand written many poems. but this one pure moment with this hand which has never touched a piano i have moved my fingers through the light and just played the piano. without surprise i believe i have. i believe it. i remember it from the moment before as truth. i remember it through the evidence of my body. this i mean to tell you, there are no borders. this is part ii.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

late day, through the dark canopy of the woods, illumination

if my mouth could touch each earthly item: moss, mould, mushroom...

the light seems to come from above
but i feel it here in my heart
i feel it banging like a caged prisoner
desperate to get out

running today, sept. 21, 2014

i run through town. past the church. the bells ring. the huskies howl. down the main street. there goes larry and his bike. irene does not set out her stuff today. by the pigeon house. the young girl no one likes on the side of the road. i wave. i have medium-long strides. after six years or so i have finally figured out what to do with my arms. autumn is a holy house i run through. mennonites park their wagons and tumble out to the trees. all the neat members of the community have lined up their cars in front of churches. at the swamp i flush ducks out from under a ledge in my chest. a vulture lulls overhead. i crest a hill and behind the green leaves yellow begins to sing.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

part i, sadness

i began the week by thinking about sadness, not the kind that turns the mouth down and melts the heart like wet sugar, but the kind that turns the mind off. or perhaps that was the soul that switched channels. finding only grey reception. the imperceptible cutting in of electrical voices which begged to be understood like undetermined scents beg to be named. the unfortunate depths of immeasurable voiddom.

i wasn't sad this week. i was only thinking about it. remembering it. that dangerous expanse of nothing.

i was trying to determine why it was that i was so honestly born to it. you see, perhaps i don't name it well enough.

when you are trapped in the dentist's chair and he sinks the needle into your gums and the peripheral obliteration occurs in parts of your body. flagged by the alien metal taste of its residue. and you no longer understand how your body. your particular body. manages to be in this particular world. especially when you have no hold on it...

when i had cervical dysplasia and the doctor lobbed off small pieces of my meat from the inside. i could feel the tug as though a thief were trying to emancipate my book bag from my shoulder. but perhaps not even my book bag. perhaps a woman's i stood beside. even then. like that.

i awoke. (was born) in the center of my life. but not the center of my life.

it was not that i was a certain thing and the world was off. or that the world was a certain thing and i was off. but rather that the world was a cardboard cut-out. and i was an impostor. that taste. the one that lets you know your extremities are not quite where you perceive them to be. it was in my mouth from the beginning.

and the full world. felt oddly like voiddom.

now, again, it is not that i was mouth turned down sad. i wasn't. i was quite happy. and often. but i did not fit. things were not quite right.

but what do we know when we're born? we have two hands for a reason. with one hand we acquire information from what we perceive. and we think this is knowledge. with the other hand we give away our precepts. in other words, we learn our ignorance.

my ignorance has gotten me farther than anything.

two things needed to happen for me to not feel so alienated. one, i had to discover that the world i was presented with was a construct. two, i had to discover what, twofold, a self is. (two the gentle simplification. 1. the individual earthly bound self 2. the immutable infinite self.)

now, this all sounds terribly simple. tying it to words like bows on a kite string. but something very important happened. almost an unnameable change. a change perhaps unrecognizable from the outside.

this week as i drove to work, despite being exhausted from recent goings on, i could not help but be ecstatic to see the perfect cows in the perfect frost blown fields. i could not help but to laugh out loud at the pudgy hawk sitting on the bale of hay. the wet snag against the cool fall sky - i could not help but nearly cry aloud in devotion.

but i remember a day twenty years ago. driving to work along the concrete corridor in dayton. young. employed. in love. a small apartment with all the right furnishings. but this was before home furnishings took the wild turn. before home improvement was emblemized in the wake of sept. 11th. so we had a couch. a bed. a coffee table. a bedspread. a picture on the wall. but i remember this day. driving to work. my hands upon the wheel. that taste flooding my mind. wanted to turn my car into a concrete partition. another car. a tree. any form of obliteration. any concussion to fold the ruse upon itself.

there was no connectedness in my life. i did not understand. the world was cardboard. and i an impostor.

to drive into a concrete structure was not to kill myself. nothing so dramatic. for i didn't yet realize i existed. i just wanted to stop the foolish book. fold it. like dull paper. upon itself.

so i was thinking about this. i was thinking about this and art. i was thinking about this and words. i was thinking about this and nature.

i work with a young girl who tried to kill herself last winter. she is a flame. a spirit. a horse in girl's clothing. she likes photography. she is trying to survive. she doesn't know the world that her parents tell her about is fake. for how do we tell anyone anything? not meaning to, but excited, i asked if she knows of two formidable photographers. francesca woodman. and alix cleo roubaud. it wasn't until the next day i realized i had schooled her in depression. francesca having killed herself. alix well versed in troubles. but i have to throw this down. ignore it. for these women blazed toward something. and they blazed away from the inert.

and my daughter, of course. i can not tell her. and she could not hear me anyways say, pull the world down. topple it. find the real one. and then find the falcon in your heart.

but this is only where my week began. thinking about this. thinking about my life's transformation. i might look exactly the same, i imagine, with my hands upon the wheel. and while there are times of my soul's desecration (which is where i was last night and even this morning upon beginning to type this) i know something blazes out from me now. away from inertia. toward something.

but the world works in two locations. inside us. and out there.

and out there i witnessed a horror late week that is nearly unspeakable.

and i could not stop it. could not change what was happening in the moment.

and the ramifications are deep. deep and bruising. bruising for us all.

but still. writing this helps to heal me. writing this and looking out into the real world, the one beneath the construct, the one where cows do walk out onto frost endowed fields.

for now this from this morning's correspondence with my husband discussing the possibility and nature of god:

someone might say, 
it is all tricks and mirrors, 
as though 
to say this would be to undo its reality, 

but what if we said, it IS 
all tricks and mirrors! 
and we clapped our hands, 
and at the end of the show were led home?

(outside a blue jay glides to the ground in a tight circle, 
the tips of its wings emblazoned white, beautiful, strong, in the rain)

Friday, September 19, 2014

lost: pilgrims (reward offered)

when we were given this earth 
we were given no instruction
but one, the instruction of hunger,
and with that map 
sent into the desert to starve.
how many nameless souls 
had their flesh blown away like sand? 
what an impression the wind made!
what an impression want!
what undertone need.
and later what infusion plenty
but plenty did not and could not come
until we learned to lean our bodies 
through our deaths into the earth
(isn't this a funny little irony),
first by walking out of the desert
(some of us walking to death),
and then later by leaning
in perfect resistance to sow seed
(some of us sowing to death),
at each point of the journey
with the map of body 
ie., hunger, at hand.
there was great suffering.
suffering bore us hard.
cleansed us to belief.
almost cleansed us of it.
belief in what? 
well, that remains to be named
but under pressure
rot becomes ruby.

it was at the sink
i first learned
that it wasn't just to clean the cucumber
but to remove the spines
and release the essential self
that all the goddamned scrubbing was for.
cucumbers don't look like that,
i snarled, my fingers, in the end 
looking much the puckered pickles.
no, but pickles do - mother!
and then if that weren't enough
(you who don't pickle don't know)
50 jars of dill 
and garlic sweet-slick
burning into every sliver 
(and beneath the nail!),
oh, your once perfect hand...
and the pushing!
all that bearing down,
birthing earth to jar.
it hurt! who knew!

autumn comes to us now,
squash, just so darned sexy,
corn so plentiful it's unconscionable
(considering our few brief hours),
and beans a trove of earrings 
sparkling first light on dew
(let's dress for the party!).
but my mother tells me 
she'll garden no more,
put up no more preserves prettily
(prettily only the heart's idea,
the body's truth herculean),
no pickled carrots, no musty beets,
no jeweled amber peaches.
too old. too tired. too pained. 
she'll buy them instead in the store 
for comfort.
huge calibrated machines 
will till the earth
and spit corn kernels 
through metal teeth
right into our very, 
first bowls, then bowels,
and not one soul might have to suffer.
what will she do now with her life?
are we comfortable?

(planning to post this today i came across this much more ambitious and developed poem. there is too much serendipity not to post the link: "Date Palm Trinity" by Khaled Mattawa.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014


once the book ends
where does the lady go,
her slender hands
shielding the lantern's glow
as she gloams footlessly down the hall?
she doesn't come back, we know
(or think we know),
but what of that which begs our heart,
the girl with the apple cheeks,
her childhood a dart,
light happily shrieking out before her?

sadly, not in this book. only in the next.

night, epilogue, winter:

we think we're addicted to endings
but we're not, a) b) c),  careful lies
we tell ourselves,
a convincing internal dialogue,
balm, concussion, safety.
each day the hair dies back
it grows, yet, longer still.
we're addicted to
swirls, curls and finger prints,
and lamp light
no matter how distant.

try to practice and you'll fail.

she placed her wet mitten in my hand,
moved her small foot from the curb,
and we began...

try. try the tale.
then stop.
stop while she's laughing.
stop before you might know why.
stop while she's looking up at you,
not one danger present.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014


the manager, my friend, is mean.
her sharp mouth is a weapon.
while her big self rises
her small self buries her wound down below.

she saved a seagull the other day,
its wing broken,
its brothers crowding in on its still body
about to finish it off.

in a small box
on the front seat of her big truck
she tucked its wing under its stinky body.
she put the windows down as she drove it to safety.

when she hurts me first thing in the morning
i am still like the seagull.
the second time i become even stiller.
ok, i think.

they put a splint on the seagull's wing.
she donated $20.00.
she heard the bird make a soft sound through the wall.
i don't even like seagulls, she says, surprised by the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

arcing through time

my son throws a ball
and stretches to rupture point
(a bow overdrawn) a ligament 
which spans the length of his arm
around his shoulder and through connection
fans the breadth of his chest like fire
and threatens his conception of his heart

my daughter lies on our bed
face pushed into bedclothes
a horizon soaked and dried in love milk
while i rub her muscles
which grow supinely
on a distant plane
which i can only visit

my face is different from three years ago
near the subcutaneous layer of my dreams
i begin to lose a little collagen

Monday, September 15, 2014

"jesus," the gateway mouth drug to damnation for rapscallions and teenaged girls

i am laughing too loudly at something not funny approved.
jesus, she says, scoffing, control yourself, keep it down.
i want to say, don't use his name like that, but that might get me flogged.
i don't like that, i offer, it might offend.
who? you don't believe in him, or liam, or me, i mean, what the hell!

but i do believe in him. i believe he knew exactly
how the soul is held, an endangered flame in a lantern
with all the glass busted out, hanging on a rusty hook
which creaks like a rusty hinge in the wind.

Friday, September 12, 2014

parking lots and rest areas

the pavement, marred to an honest crud, in the parking lot behind the trinket store. tar smears and garbage shards. refuse encrusted brow. scattered bits shed from the skin of thoughtless and scattering transients. making their way in rusted pick-up trucks and highly endowed winnebagos. with ordinary doings. and/or dreams. dog shit and dead mice.

there, a lame seagull in the back quadrant. with a broken wing. already dirty faced. (might it not be dirt and instead only an expression?) has turned its back on the parking lot. the sky already too distant to consider. stares out quietly. over a mud stained puddle.

i have seen, in the busy and hopeful parking lot of a grocery store, white seraphim flames burning as a single cloud. a flock of seagulls plucking anvil headed with hardened intent upon one of their own. recklessly. ruthlessly. to death. what weakness had they detected?

the lonely seagull. alone. so absolutely alone. what shift has happened in his heart? seagulls don't sentimentalize? then why the angle of the head struck, the turning inward? the stance of shame. deformity. disappointment. most unbearably - separateness.

in the neat and bright house, grass groomed and potted flowers near the door, both the mother and the teenaged daughter bear arms that look like blood besmirched plucked feathers. neither is sure which one bears the wing which is broken. which one deformed. which one has been forsaken. left separate.

even brown puddles shine.

there are reflections.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

what it amounts to in this world, not the one that our spirits reside in but the one that our bodies do, is what aspect of ourselves are we willing to sell?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

and so this is how it happens... (danger roadside in the raspberry bushes)

for i would not stop eating from the world

nor would i ask the world to stop converting light into stuff
or stuff into light

Saturday, September 6, 2014

cotton mouth

at the back of our long narrow yard a bluejay 
flies from the tree-lined east to the tree-lined west

my life moves between two poles
like this, as does my mind

the pole in my east mind named by my mother
the pole in my west named by the mouth

which names and blows each bird like cotton

Friday, September 5, 2014

the other pole

curiously i feel such ease rocking myself in solitude repeating, "i am only fat and flour, i'm nothing," for what do fat or flour have to fear and how might nothing feel pain?

cutting my finger i sang with joy

let us consider wholeness for a moment. 
imagine the lantern, the table, the flicker, 
flame and shadow all residing in one location, 
along with your body, mine and our discarded clothing, 
the place where the empty cliff becomes the peopled moon, 
where the rifle shot cancels the bloom, 
where death meets life, not in embrace 
but in the forever armless cradle - what life lives there? 
what philosophical conundrums then become mute? 
       what peace. 
what utter annihilation of all acute.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

spiderwebs in twilight

one of those mornings when the spiders, who have worked all night long under cover of darkness, have cast their nets, thousands of them, between limbs and electrical lines, where the impossible has happened, where the invisible has been revealed in outline. one can't be sure they don't do this every night and perhaps it is only something in the damp air that reveals them, after all each evergreen has a particular almost translucent shine along the tip of each branch, all encased in a white glowing moistness, a wet and clinging dream. but here they are, these thousands of webs, exploded lingerie from the great bound dresser, suggesting that the mystery is always pressing upon our periphery with its gauzy hands and rasped naked whispers, is always present, always encircling us, always waiting for the perfect moment of admittance so that it might break through the dream walls with such force it breaks into its delicate and glistening body.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


you will find yourself saying things like:
"ready freddy?," "be careful," "hum, really?," "no," and "bugger off."
and how her mouth drifts like a boat afloat in her old ebbing face now
revealing how disconnected her words, her phrases are to her body.
this begins to happen to you too, daughter of forty-four,
for you do not own this world,
nor yourself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

stopping in the middle of the road

daydreaming of the girl who has died
(it is always only daydreaming)
imagining her parent's grief
(which is really just another name i give my own)
2 adult deer usher a spotted fawn across the road

i wait behind the wheel

this is the only child i can save
(only by an accident of attention)

and only this once