Sunday, December 30, 2012

Distraction and Discontent

Surely even the late Roman emperors lived a bland, untitillated life, compared to ours: we are surrounded by professionals, who have made distraction a high art. I watch with some dismay as Facebook ads come closer and closer to the mark, even so queer and difficult a mark as me: why, there's the new book by my friend Murr Brewster! And a person could go study drumming in Africa! A weekend of meditation on the Oregon Coast, wouldn't that be a grand way to start the new year?

What happens, when things we actually want are dandled constantly before us? Do we become more or less susceptible? I am not sure, but possibly less. So much of clutching comes of a fear that this is our only chance at something we want: the pros run the risk of showing us, cumulatively, that there's a constant supply of the things we want. It's even possible that we might back up and think about wanting itself, as a frame of mind, as a way of being in the world.

Well, I don't imagine that troubles the pros very much. Let us think, and toy with the notion of an unworldly life! We'll be all the more discontented, in the long run.

The curtains glow with sunlight; the vinyl breasts of the booths gleam. Oblique winter lights ricochet across the cafe. It's good to be alive, to taste even the lukewarm lees of coffee at the end of December, to see the three posts of the milkshake machine glow like swords, and to imagine that summer might come again. Summer comes by stealth, these days; all seasons do. They spring at me without warning. Tomorrow could be high summer, and women wearing thin linen dresses, and yellow-jackets clustering on dropped fruit. Or it could be snow falling around the streetlights, or wet red leaves turning to mush in the gutters. You never know. The clasps that are supposed to hold me in time are so loose, now, that sometimes I think they're going to lose their grip entirely.

Where was I? Oh yes! Distraction and discontent. Well. Two can play that game!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Twelve Sets of Folded Bronze Wings

I found myself stumbling over my words, in my eagerness to tell a coworker about meditation. And now I am spinning in the backwash of my own enthusiasm: so much invested, so much hoped, so much that fell short. And yet. I have only twice, that I clearly recall, moved distinctly, decisively, to a new and better state of being. One of those times was when I moved away from home: the second time was the result of a regular meditation practice. That's it, in 54 years; two doorways. And the other things I have invested in – many many things, over the years – have returned far less.

But have you said anything, when you say that? As opposed to, say, fingers threaded through the hair at the nape of the neck, or the shadow of a cloud leaving the trees? So little comes into focus at one time: and memory, the neurologists tell us, is rewritten every time it's accessed, so that what we remember often is precisely what we remember worst. The more often I've told a story, the less I should believe it. That, at least, I've known since before the first door opened.

I sat shamatha this morning, taking the cushion from the back of the love seat for a zabuton, and my pillow from the bed for a zafu. After a few breaths I realized I had forgotten the prayer at the beginning, the prayer in which one sets the intention. I thrashed a moment or two between the impulse to start over properly, and the discipline of not following the thought – any thought – even the thought of the dedication prayer. You start making exceptions and the whole thing unravels: everything's an exception. So I shook free, let it go, followed my breathing: the cold air nuzzling at my nostrils on the inbreath, the faint rasp of the outbreath, the uneasy multifidi and rotatores trying to second guess this strange stillness. Sometimes you can feel the ribs hanging from your spine, like a twelve sets of folded bronze wings.

The light grew in the room as I sat. I said the dedication prayer in full morning, as full as it gets here at the withered end of the year. People forget that Icarus also flew: the line comes unbidden into my mind, and my ribs move restlessly, reminding me of the flirt of a crow's tail while it balances on a power wire in a stiff wind. Or of the twitch of a cat's ears when they're brushed by a thread. I do long to fly: or at least to jump from floor to windowsill, and peer at the open sky.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Thing That Hath Been

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

The wind of Christmas hath whirled hither again, nor shall it be remembered, nor shall it return but as new: when all thy gifts are broken, then shalt thy heart grope for what it cannot find, and scraps of paper only wilt thou discover, unless it be a ribbon on a bare twig.

A new Christmas cometh only when the old is gone entire: therefore make haste to put away tree and ornament, light and music, and let the dead of winter possess thee. Sweep the needles from the hearth with care, for a single one remaining will hold the season in darkness; and thy carols shall be sung before untenanted houses, and thy cup shall be empty.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Oh for an age so sheltered from annoy
That I may never know how change the moons,
Or hear the voice of busy common sense!

I roundly dislike being busy, which I always am this time of year: it's the giving season, and every day brings a new surge of gifts to the Foundation. I am grateful for the gifts, which, to disregard more important things, keep me in a job I love, and in company with people I love and admire intensely. But my attitude toward holidays has always been grumpy. They interrupt my routines. They're trying, for an extreme introvert: everyone gets in my face and demands my attention.

I watch, with amusement, my mind constructing stories to justify and make moral the fact that I simply dislike the holidays. For days some semi-independent bit of my brain has been at work trying to construct a narrative about holidays being invented to distract working class people from the fact that their masters never have to work, that they never have to get up at a particular time of day, and that they wander off to Jamaica or the south of France whenever they damn well feel like it. If we weren't abject servants – says my mind – we wouldn't need holidays. We could make any day worth living.

This, of course, is arrant nonsense. People love holidays, the filthy rich as much as anyone. They love to get together and jabber repetitive inanities at each other, and trade formulaic expressions of approval, and jostle for status, whether on their way to Mecca or to the mistletoe. They love picking a day at random out of the calendar and investing it with huge significance. It's Christmas! They insist. And when I grumble, it's only Christmas! because you say it is, nobody has the faintest idea when that Nazarene carpenter's son was born, I know I've gone too far. You can only try the patience of extroverts so far: they are not thoughtful folk. You have to play along.

So. Merry Christmas! May you have all the merriment you can take on board, and get it out of your damn systems, so I can get back to the life I love. Which has parking spaces at Fred Meyer even in the early evening, and gifts rolling into the Foundation at a nicely manageable pace, and cafes that open for breakfast at the same time every day. My life is such a rewarding one that holidays are a disagreeable interruption: may God bless you, every one, with a life so good! Then maybe we could dispense with all this.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Up in the rainy sky a gull is batted this way and that by flaws of wind: his gray and white appear and disappear in complicated patterns, because both colors perfectly match different regions of the cloudscape. I wonder what errand he's on, to keep him up so high in such unpromising weather: he must be expending an awful lot of energy. Doesn't seem like there'd be much percentage in it.

Down below, here, behind the window, I have finally finished my coffee and turned my cup on its side. A little sadness rises, like the tiny curl of smoke from a stick of incense: it has no apparent object, no sad thought to go with it. It rises and disperses, a physical sadness, maybe, a lingering sleep-melancholy. I breathe deep, and feel a faint unease in my intercostals: not quite soreness. Maybe that's from running up the ten story staircase of the parking garage yesterday: I was gasping by the time I got to the top.

This time of year the garage is more full than usual, with holiday shoppers, and I end up parking on the very top (instead of the ninth floor), and I always walk to the highest corner and look down on the streets running north, south, and west: canyons running between the buildings. Some dizziness, looking down from that height: my diaphragm disapproves of being that high, and clutches a little. I wonder how the gull feels, spun by the wind up there? Different, I expect. Their inner ears must be built to higher tolerances, and being blown by the wind is perfectly safe, of itself. I expect that it's being near things you can smack into that alarms a gull: and that it's empty air that feels secure.

But now, at the cafe: I watch the the power wires sway against the white sky, and the steady drips all along the length of the brown awnings that Tom has over the windows. Each drop contains the whole white sky, and falls, falls.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Further Reports as Events Warrant

Didn't get up till 9:00 – very late for me. A little under the cold and discouraging weather. Came straight out to get my breakfast and a dose of artificial light at Tom's. Spent an hour and a half on my Spanish, reading, making flashcards, looking things up. A jilguero? Well, my dictionary called it a linnet or a goldfinch, which makes no sense at all – I've never seen a linnet, but by God I know it's not the same bird as anything I'd call a goldfinch. Google images showed me a jilguero: a very handsome fellow indeed, as this Wikipedia photo by J.J. Harrison ( shows:

This is, apparently, what Europeans call a goldfinch. Who knew? Well, everyone who cares but me, probably. To this norteamericano a goldfinch is a brilliant yellow bird with white and black accents, and not even smidgeon of red. God save us, a red-faced goldfinch? Next they'll be putting green stripes on the American flag!

So I'm slow, and a bit troubled to think of those godless Europeans going about calling this lovely bird – not his fault, poor fellow – a goldfinch, and I'm late, and I need to go home and make a salad and getting my eating back on program. The last few days it's spun out. I've been in a funk. Last night I ate a vast meal of Thai food, great quantities of rice and a delicious yellow curry that was as hot as the sun: and I've been eating ice cream, and buttered toast with honey, and proffered Christmas cookies (No human being can decently turn down the first cookies of a splendidly proud nine-year-old, can he? This in-home massage gig has its hazards.)

So today, today is the day I get it back together. Undressed salad and plain meats and tubers, and tracking consumption to hold myself to a Spartan three thousand calories a day. I weighed and measured myself today, which was rather cheering, although my scale is obviously inaccurate – it gives me readings that vary by several pounds, as I get on and off – but anyway, I seem to weigh something in between 210 and 215 lbs, and to measure 45 ½ inches around the waist, which is at least ten pounds less, and two inches less, than the last time I measured. My erratic and varied eating innovations seem to be accruing (or rather disaccruing), which is pleasant to see.

Well, as Calvin would say: further reports as events warrant! xo

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chiefly Astronomical

The sun shone furiously over a  huge shoulder of cloud this afternoon: cars kicked bursts of water up from the drenched streets, like December pedestrians panting puffs of steam into the frosty air. Every drop and cloud of spray sparkled. Blaze, old girl, one more time!

A couple days ago the streetlights came on at four in the afternoon. Real cold has started to filter into the house. I start reckoning the time to the solstice. But the sun is still slipping away from us, dallying with New Zealanders, Chileans, South Africans.

Last night, I came out of the house where I'd been doing a massage, and Auriga was high in the sky, in a deep recess between curtains of cloud, and a planet of incredible brightness was burning, right up there beside it in Taurus, totally outshining Aldebaran. To my chagrin I couldn't say what planet it was: it seemed too yellow for Venus, but too bright for Jupiter. Altogether it was an eerie sky, with its unclaimed planet, and the folding wings of cloud around it. Auriga hangs like an interdict upon my hopes, at the best of times: neither it nor any of the winter constellations have ever had any love for me.

And now the sun has been buried. Everything is dark again, and a steady rain is falling. Cold. Last night as I washed up for my massage I held my hands in the hot water a long time before they finally warmed up.

According to Sky and Telescope, that planet was indeed Jupiter. No explanation of its brilliance, though. Maybe sometimes it just gets tired of being the runner-up to Venus.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Moon

You, love, you, all
countenanced in the white circumference,
and within
the earthshine
between the horns, the lemmas of Dis:
you, I love you still, you know. You,
who you said would remember, are forgetting:
I, whom you said would forget, remember. So it is,
So it goes on, like a net dragging the dewy hillside:
memory is neither clean nor dry. Only in poems
do you get to say “I told you so.”

Silk ears swivel and twitch,
muzzles lift, eyes widen,
lips lift and show the needle fangs.
Love is still alive and feral,
it still roams under the new moon,
trotting on ancient cinder paths:
and kindness, still there, whines
like a young dog longing for a walk.

I told you so. I know a bit about love:
I've served in this house a long time,
taking abuse and kindness as it comes.
The crescent silvers the scars,
The new blood holds the old blood in its arms,
and the thump of a dish on the kitchen floor
gets even an old dog to his feet.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


A exvolution, as of petals – overblossomed –
hands in prayer that open hingelike, and spread to the winter sun –
what has been swollen ebbing, softing – but still –
alert to the lightest brush – wincing – but refusing to withdraw;
we are still engorged with sun, unwilling,
fatted and feasted and stubborn
in this wane of year and life and blood.
We will not go until we're called: we will not sleep until
God's hand is fairly on our throats, and his thumbs
close both carotids. One more swell and burst of summer;
One more drench of blood, and then we'll go.
Quietly we'll walk the pale blue passages,
the papered walls, extravasated matter, gray and white;
we'll simplify, uncomplicate, and fade
as we go home.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


How does one refuse to accept humiliation, while taking responsibility? The two look contradictory, but actually they are deeply congruent and mutually supporting. Both take the war to the enemy. And both depend on understanding oneself as vulnerable, contingent, unpredictable, and even dangerous.

This requires, I dare say, some exegesis. It may surprise some people to hear me speaking of “the enemy”: it sounds perhaps un-Buddhist. But in fact, they are out to get you. Your fellow human beings. Robert Sapolsky, an authority on baboons, once said something like, “if a baboon is unhappy, it's because some other baboon is making its life a misery.” It's true of all hierarchical primates, including human beings. The energy we have left over after supplying our basic wants we devote to establishing and defending our places in various social groups. Each of these has dominant members, and defines itself by excluding some people and humiliating others.

Modern society is complicated, of course, and there are many indirections to all this, but the upshot is that there are people working all the time to humiliate you, to make you anxious and doubtful. Some do it with malice, because they enjoy bullying. Most do it because they are themselves anxious and doubtful. But living a human life, or maybe I should say a sacred life, means shaking free of this. Don't let them drive you into shame and dread. There's no time for that. We have better things to do.

At the same time our enemies are, as the Buddha insisted, our best teachers. They find our weaknesses. They tell us the truths our friends will not. We need them. And ultimately we have to take ownership of our weaknesses. When I find myself boiling with anger at someone, I am doing what we baboon-style primates naturally do: I am accepting the terms of domination and submission, and I look – fiercely or miserably – for a way to reverse the relations, to bring my enemy down somehow, to build an alliance to defy and humiliate him. This also is a waste of time, and this also is letting the enemy choose the ground. And that's why I spoke of taking the war to the enemy. Our job is reject, once and for all, that what we are here for is humiliation, whether ours or theirs.

Once and for all? Well, no. Over and over. As often as it takes. We don't need to be baboons. We can do better than that.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pocked and Pounded Silver

We drove upriver on the Washington side, crossed at Bridge of the Gods, and drove back down the Oregon side. It was very dark, and raining the whole time, so we only got out of the car a couple times. We hadn't been up the Washington side for a long time: we pulled over at Beacon Rock, and a couple other places. At one viewpoint, high up on the palisades, we could see up some fifteen miles up the river till it vanished in the rain-dim: each headland lighter colored and less distinct, and shreds of cloud tangled around hills' throats like scarves. The lightest thing in the landscape was the river, a pocked and pounded silver, much brighter than the sky. Mt Hood never showed his face.

Just diddled along, not trying to get anywhere or do anything. Stopped at Bonneville and looked in at our friends the sturgeon, their ruffs of gills and their dignified barbel goatees, their dull little eyes and slow sad undulations. When they open their mouths, a huge pouch suddenly appears under their necks: it's all very strange and rather Jurassic feeling.

Cold, cold and wet, but a beautiful day, in its fashion. We paid our toll, $1.00 in quarters, at the Oregon side of the bridge, and the bridgekeeper wished us “Merry Christmas!” Across the way was a nativity scene. I thought of Cheryl Strayed walking up to touch the bridge, at the end of her trek, and of the original Bridge of the Gods, sunk now by Bonneville, and I thought of just how many stories any one place can hold: as many as it needs to, really. Like that great unexpected pouchy fish mouth. Anything goes in.

Monday, December 10, 2012

On the Trail of Digression

Once upon a time, two very different friends, in the space of a few days, said to me, “I think you need to get some self-respect.”

Well, it's the sort of thing you can say in Dear Abby, where everyone devoutly believes that the self exists and that respecting it is a good idea – hence the overflowing happiness one always discovers in that column – but what could it mean to me?

I saw at once that it was true, but I also saw that I had a difficult translation to perform before I could use its truth. I've spent the last five years carrying it folded up in my pocket, a one-item grocery list for the next time I'm in the other world: “pick up some self-respect.”

Oh dear, this threatens to become so abstract as to be useless. Let's ascend at once to cases. Suppose I were to take a corner wrong and sideswipe a parked car. Just barely: just enough to quietly scrape its paint. And suppose it was five in the morning, no one out and about. A person with self-respect – in our sense – would leave a note with his contact information. A person without it would drive away, rapidly refitting his stories about who he was in the world. He would think, “what is scraped paint? Do I care about scraped paint, on my own car? I do not. Why should I take on someone else's stupid automotive vanity? What can it matter? And if no one knows it was me, is it even I, in any sense that matters, that scraped the car?” And the longer he drove away, the more impossible coming back and owning up would be: for now he was not just a careless driver, but one who drove off without identifying himself.

The difference between the two responses – the difference that's important to me, anyway – has nothing to do with integrity. It has to do with acknowledging other people. Because, while it's very true that automotive vanity is stupid – and while it might very well be true that I would not myself care, if I came out of my house in the morning and found my paint damaged – nevertheless, my imagination can either extend itself to the owner of the scraped car or not. I can acknowledge that the owner of the scraped car might care. He might also care not at all for his paint, but care whether others cared about his feelings. I can imagine this – or not. If I decide not to imagine it, I have failed, not in integrity, but in compassion.

Has this case taken us far afield? Yes and no. Because of course my friends were not talking about anything like this.

I have been thinking a great deal about how central humiliation is to the human experience. Dreading it, experiencing it, avoiding it: sometimes I think it's most of what human beings do. Exactly what that has to do with self-respect, I hesitate to say at once: a number of suspiciously glib responses arise, but I would rather sit quietly for bit and think about it. But I will say this: that as I've been contemplating it, I've found a deadly cold anger, and a determination never to accept humiliation again. An old resolve, I think: it seemed almost to come from outside of me. I suspect I've laid my finger on the source of most of the seemingly random explosions of rage that are so disquietingly common in the modern world: that they're responses to intolerable accumulations of humiliation.

(And I will say at once, since I am on the Trail of Digression here, that to make the world a better place, what we must do at once and above all is stop humiliating each other. And on the internal side of that, always the more important and the more difficult, we must learn not accept humiliation.

(How does one refuse to accept humiliation, while taking responsibility? The two look contradictory, but actually they are deeply congruent and mutually supporting. Both take the war to the enemy. And both depend on understanding oneself as vulnerable, contingent, unpredictable, and even dangerous.))

Saturday, December 08, 2012


The minister said, in her eulogy, that if ever you were despondent you could go to Helen and she would tell you how wonderful you were. And that was true, and she was a lovely person that way. She thought everyone was wonderful, and made sure they knew it.

But you know, it actually took a little shine off, when she put it that way. Because we all, except the buddhas, have at least a little whisper of self that wants to be special. If everyone is wonderful, what does “wonderful” mean? It's another word for “ordinary.”

That itch to to be singular and special is probably the closest analog we Buddhists have to original sin. So long as I want to be better than other people, I've got to push some of them down; I want to curry favor with some and belittle others; I want to form a little circle of the best people, according to some criteria or other, and to lure some people in and push other people out. Writ large, you get the whole sorry history of the world. Writ small, you get the ongoing disasters and ruination of eros in the fields of family and friendship. It's often not such a good thing to want to be special.

All faiths take up the problem, but the Buddhist solution is perhaps the most complete and draconian. No “last shall be first” conveniently postponed humility for us. We take the more drastic step of denying that we're even distinguishable. How can you rank things if they're not even identifiably separate? The endeavor is absurd. If you're not sacred on account of having consciousness and hence buddha-nature, then – being able to type 140 words a minute, or bench press 300 lbs, or write immortal poems – or having teal as your favorite color, or rooting for the St Louis Cardinals, or pulling decisively into an intersection to make your left turn – or knowing the difference between “their” and they're,” or being too clever to identify with a major party, or understanding the difference between twill and serge – or – whatever the hell it is, everyone has their own bizarre and ridiculous list of the things that make them really special, God help them – really, can anyone think about this for more than a couple of minutes and not understand that the Buddha was right, that none of these things could actually make you valuable and precious, if the mere fact of having consciousness doesn't do it?

And what is consciousness, after all, but a cascade of thoughts and perceptions thundering down the rocks, driven on by the weight of all the stream of thoughts and perceptions of those before us, and pouring down into the little basins of the innumerable baby skulls below us? Watch a waterfall and try, try to follow a single drop run its way from the top of Multnomah Falls to the litter of debris below the bridge. That's “my” thought you're following. Sure. Give it up. It doesn't make any sense.

So what, then? If I give it up, if I give up ownership of the little eddies in my own skull-basin, halfway down the torrent, perched there among the moss and and the fume? What am I doing, what should I be doing? I am not sure, but I can very certainly say what my job is not: it is not to create water out of nothing, and it is not to persuade the other basins round about to acknowledge the specialness of the swirls of foam in my own bowl. Whatever it is – not that.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Things I said Elsewhere

At Marly's Palace:

I don't know if I could read Mervyn Peake any more. Loved him when I was a teenager, but back then his Ayn-Rand-on-acid, impudent "I owe nothin' to nobody!" stance was kind of adorable. Now that it's the official motto of the US House of Representatives I feel a bit different about it.

On Facebook:

Me: Tempted to identify myself on my various profiles as "religious but not spiritual." You know, just to goose people a bit. But also because it's true, so far as I can actually assign a meaning to either word. Which is not very far.

DJ: Why that way round? I'd have thought you'd have gone for 's but not r'.

Me: As far as I can tell people say they're "spiritual" when they believe in their premonitions and think the world shapes itself according to their own wishes and desires; and when they don't want other people's wishes and desires to count the same way. So I'm very anti -'s'. But ritual, the responsibilities of tradition, prayer, spiritual practice, accepting that I belong to others – all very 'r' – all those, I do subscribe to.

“The intellect of man is forced to choose,” said Yeats, “perfection of the life, or of the work.”

Dubious: I was struck by the lines, when I first read them as a teenager, but I was never convinced by them, and I'm not convinced by them now. Particularly though, in me: I have come down such a funnel that the life and the work are very nearly the same thing: if I go on as I began, stationing myself as someone who knows something about living, surely I must either demonstrate some skill at it, or see my audience leave in disgust?

But life and work have both reached an impasse – the same impasse, really. A number of options are open to me. But the step before me is occluded. I must either make it visible, or take some other way; or tell it so slant that the coffee cups slide off the table and the butter lands on the floor.

What then? Well – another way, a circuitous backstage quest, to work myself down, and come up by the trap, accompanied by red smoke and spurts of sulfur, or to work myself up and descend in the machine, trailing wisps of glory, my cheeks rouged and my wings outspread?

But maybe either way it doesn't really matter: maybe my bones are turning to glass, my muscles to air, my skin to cellophane, my blood to water, and I will be perfectly transparent: impossible to see except on very sunny days, when a prismatic glint might rise from my kneecaps. In sign of – some covenant or other. Tiny shepherds with little rice-grain sheep will point to the rainbows and fall to their own needle-knees, and peep in their tiny shepherd voices. I could try to tell them it's only a trick of the light, but my voice would be a snarl of thunder in the heavens, and I'd scare them to death.

So – once again, a long way round to zero.

 “Yet I'll hammer it out,” says Richard II, the only person in either the play, or the audience, who doesn't understand that the poignancy of his storymaking is that his story is over, and he has nothing to say that will move horse or horseman ever again. Only a tongue, still wriggling, like a severed lizard's tail in the dust. “Yet I'll hammer it out.” Don't bet on it, even here and now, Mr Citizen Plantagenet! For the meaning was never yours in the first place. The meaning, dear prince, is what was to be hammered out of you, distilled out of your own battered flesh.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Mr Favier's Wednesday Morning Sermon

And only and ever love, the cupping of the hands around a fugitive flicker – the flame half glimpsed, half invented: only a fool would think the way to keep it would be to clutch it tight and grind the wick between his fingers.

No. Breathe on it as gently as I breathe on the cascade of your hair between my fingers: as I turn your head slowly, wheeling the heavens on the pivot of my knuckles.

Stars in deep pools of sky, almost overgrown with thickets of dark cloud: Regulus, Capella, Rigel: the horsemen of Winter. They're alight too, even as they disappear behind the banks, reappearing at odd whiles, all night long. The shade of Archimedes twists the Earth with his long boat hook, keeping it spinning. And still the breath in, the breath out, and the silk between my fingers. If you can't hear the drumbeat all this moves to, you're not listening hard enough.

All night long I heard the horsemen galloping across the sky, I felt the heave of that enormous lever, I felt your cheekbone come to rest in my waiting palm; and fire flared from between my fingers. And behind it all, rising and falling, the rattle and throb of the drums.

So don't clutch, no; but don't piss it all away, either. You think you're going to live forever?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Turning Sky

The moon rises over Mississippi.
A dish of boiled peanuts sends
a ripple of vapor over her face: but quiet,
and long lines of shadow grow.

Say, in the north country, far away,
the frost is buckling interlace,
Celtic knots that will burn away with the sun.
Say the little girl with immodest hair

can't be in two places at once: even so
at waking she holds the earth of each
in one dreaming hand, and the same sky turns
with bright enameled birds:

herons stalk, and a sudden rushing pair
of pileated woodpeckers
answers the taste of home
and the shine of her willful head.