Look, I’m not getting much sleep lately,
so chalk this up to grumpiness, if you want.
Or the back spasms…
And I’m no prude, believe me.
But I am a man who’s old, so most
of you would’t notice me on the street.
I’m a tad bitter about that, you might say,
but have learned what’s important.
Maybe, you could just listen.
I get it: Sex sells,
fantasy sex sells cars and everything else..
All those selfies of you on FB, Instagram,
You posed coyly just to show your good side,
your amazing boobs or butt, the come-hither look.
(And yes, I notice. ) Continue reading “Dear Ladies”
With Audio: Accepted into the Telepoem program
After 60 years of work, more or less,
I’ve decided to take a working vacation.
I’m booking a cruise and extended
train travels for the next 60 years
To go exploring along the coasts,
Poking my canoe up the inlets and rivers,
Probing the veins and wires and memories of
Some unfamiliar parts of me, and some
I’ve been missing for a while, to
See whether there’s anything
Worth saving, or maybe just toss it all out.
Without fail, monthly, the full moon sheds
her inky cloak of night and stars
and slips a leg and then the rest into the lake,
her cool fire subtracted from the sky.
She leaves the nights more lonely, barren.
But her life is not extinguished,
merely hidden, recovering, re-energizing.
She must withdraw from sight,
make herself desirable, let her belly be lush and fertile again
so she may breath passions onto the world, be
drunk with the reckless, raucous, ribald dance of life. Continue reading “Song of the Hidden Moon”
I want you to move in slowly,
To pin me
With hot and deep desire.
Wrap me in liquid fire.
Then I shall take my turn,
and coax from your heart
Grateful prayers to
the wisdom of a loving god.
Be careful what you wish for
Because you might just get it,
And if you get it, you might
Not know what to do with it.
There’s always a catch.
Very funny, Universe.
It was in the fall of seventh grade.
A bunch of us piled into a friend’s car.
I remember lots of laughing, goofing around.
Nearly new teenagers filled with the thrill of being alive.
A girl with jet-black hair I’d known since first grade squeezed in
Next to me and the entire length of her thigh
pressed into mine by the crush of bodies in the back seat.
I fell in love for the first time.
Just like that.
We never dated, and it wasn’t long before my
family moved overseas and our paths never crossed again. .
Maybe it is time to forgive God
For the hundreds of women
who have rejected me over the years,
Starting in third grade,
(theoretically, of course,
whether they knew it or not.
And for the one or two who
didn’t, but should have).
I’ve reached the point in life
too late where I
Would actually be of some
use to them,
Could gently walk forward with them without harm,
And be remembered, I trust, with generosity and a little fondness.
But I have reached the age
of their fathers,
And so, instead, have become,
And over there on the coasts, maybe it’s time to give hip irony the
last rites and heave-ho,
And just admit that it is as
empty and useless as
Yet another beer or Viagra
Out the window of the bar I’m watching
a circle of girls stretching and yawning
across the street. It’s late January and 74
degrees. They love the heat because
they are a moist heat. Heat loves
heat and today is a tease for what comes
with spring around here when the glorious birds
funnel back up from Mexico. The girls
don’t care about birds because they are birds.
I recall in high school a half dozen
cheerleaders resting on a wrestling mat
in short shorts in the gym, me beside them
with a silly groin ache. What were they?
Living, lovely, warm meat as we all are
reaching out of our bodies for someone else.
I used to be your favorite drunk
Good for one more laugh
Then we both ran out of luck
Luck was all we ever had
You put on a uniform
To fight the Civil War
You looked so good I didn’t care
What side you’re fighting for
It wasn’t all that easy
When you up and walked away
But I’ll save that little story
For another rainy day
I know the burden’s heavy
As you wheel it through the night
Some people say it’s empty
But that don’t mean it’s light
You left me with the dishes
And a baby in the bath
You’re tight with the militias
You wear their camouflage
You always said we’re equal
So let me march with you
Just an extra in the sequel
To the old red white and blue
Baby don’t ignore me
We were smokers we were friends
Forget that tired story
Of betrayal and revenge
I see the Ghost of Culture
With numbers on his wrist
Salute some new conclusion
Which all of us have missed
I cried for you this morning
And I’ll cry for you again
But I’m not in charge of sorrow
So please don’t ask me when
There may be wine and roses
And magnums of champagne
But we’ll never no we’ll never
Ever be that drunk again
The party’s over
But I’ve landed on my feet
I’ll be standing on this corner
Where there used to be a street
by William Butler Yeats
WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
It wasn’t Jesus in a popup camper, but it was alright.
I am, in a word, astonished.
I find myself home after 50 years on the road.
I’ve endured, mainly ordinary disappointments,
some worse than that.
But all that is stored in albums on the shelf.
If I had a fireplace, I’d build a fire and sit,
With a big dog I don’t have, and a cat or two,
And flip through the memories again,
Sipping brandy and smoking a pipe I don’t have,
Since I quit smoking.
I have wiped the spider webs from the door
Cleaned the musty rooms
Thrown out that rotten food left in the ‘fridge.
Cleaned the basement and attic of
Things that don’t matter.
(And maybe never did.)
There’s still more to do,
But the old place waited patiently, and now is livable.
I’ve written about all that.
I was away longer than planned,
Living under the perverse and immutable rule of
The Law of Unintended Consequences,
The law of the Universe, as written:
“It shall be impossible to control everything.
Even if you control almost everything,or
Nearly everything—more than anyone else ever has,
or ever will—”
There will always be something you miss.
And just because it’s fun to fuck with you,
This one thing will be the thing that screws you over.
A slow learner, it took most of my life to learn the rule.
The trip? A long, loopy, spastic waking fever-dream,
Out around the sun, slingshot back, coasting through
The cold void, the silence, alone,
To Mars and her moons, and back again,
To the past, to the future, and landing in the present,
Only to cross wilderness and water,
Barren desert and lush mountains.
Guess how much of that was on purpose.
The whole thing was shot through with wanting and
Emptiness and hidden vibrations and distant lights,
Filled with many corners, inevitable surprises around each,
And over and over, I met myself, wanting.
Understanding little at the time but driven by wanting.
The sea moves always, the wind moves always,
IÂ want and I want and there is no end to myÂ wanting.
I spun out and out, and around and around and down,
And, finally, ended where I began.
Now? The forms are all completed, the reports filed.
I am free. One manacle after another has been cut away.
I have nothing useful to do, and none can tell me to do it
I walk the buckled sidewalks of the old neighborhood.
A little hurt that no one asks for my autograph.
They don’t know, or care, about the journey.
But the children and I listen when the birds
Sit in the trees and sing like crystal and soar free,
Wishing we were with them,
Dreaming of soaring, singing high above the Earth.
This will take some adjustment.
I don’t know the lingo any more,
The streets have changed,
The Blankenships next door got old, died,
And the kids living in their house
Don’t care where I’ve been.
Difference is dangerous, they’ve learned.
And even though I know I belong—or did—
They give me wide berth,
Laugh and run away
Shouting in an unknown, yet faintly familiar language.
Inhabiting the skin of my most advanced age yet is
The strangest feeling, sometimes.
Inside I’m still young, curious, horny and wistful.
Still wanting, but not any more sure than
Ever what would satisfy the need.
Then I look in the mirror and see
A stranger with mileage, a certain weariness… but me .
I wish I could grow one magic eye,
Able to see the truth of things,
And yet not despair.
But maybe I found a seed of it on the trip,
And while it needs a little tending,
There is occasionally some magic in it.
And that pleases me.
Everything I’ve done, everything and everyone
I’ve known; the friends, the enemies;
The broken bodies I left in my wake,
All the times I failed to just be kind,
(When it would have cost me nothing),
Or to learn from my mistakes,
If any of it had been different,
Even something small I didn’t notice at the time,
The story would have been entirely different.
So tonight, I’ll live the story I imagine,
By the imaginary fireplace, with
The imaginary brandy and dog and cats,
And flip through the old album, the only thing
That’s real, and let the truth rise.
That’s all I ever really wanted.
Give one yielding hour,
All forgot in the moment.
Pretend to care not, if you must.
But you may be believed not.
In that hour, completely.
Then turn away,
Step again onto the twisting path.
Choice is loss.
The dry times they predicted are here,
The clouds are scarce and carry no water.
In drought out West, the red cliffs turn black in the moonlight
the way blood does when cooling under reflected light.
You won’t understand, of course, but I’m empty today.
empty of the thing I need,
empty … and likely to stay that way.
‘I have heard, but not believed, the spirits o’ the dead walk again.’
Just when enough time has passed, or should have,
a memory will wake the misery spirit to scour around my ribs
in sticky places where the emptiness still hides
like black blood in the cool, blue light of the moon.
I’m nearly old, she said… to no one,
Before the mirror,
Tracing a line down her cheek
With a fingertip,
Lost in memory.
A chill; her soul shivers .
This is the face that boys
Longed to kiss, she remembers,
Remembering the power of it.
Yet now the boys are men, although not as many.
The face that felt the chubby caress of
Her children’s hands,
The face she could depend upon.
A breeze ruffles the curtains,
Touches the flower beside the mirror.
Her eye caresses the exquisite
Design of it,
Of perfect purpose.
“You are nearly old, too,” she says, tracing the line of the
Petal with her finger.
She smiles, newly aware…
All things must pass.
All things are temporary.
All those years ago
And I remember the first time,
In the moonlight,
When you stood before me
Shy, uncertain, serene,
While I tried to start breathing,
Soaking in the sight of you
With your gown fallen, body free.
All these years, as you leaned in
Asking me to find the music,
To clumsily compose songs of our life,
Teaching me how it should go,
With you as the instrument upon which
Our song would be played.
Happened across this this morning. Isn’t this exactly how young love feels? Yeah.
“From June to December Summer Villanelle”
by Wendy Cope
You know exactly what to do—
Your kiss, your fingers on my thigh—
I think of little else but you.
It’s bliss to have a lover who,
Touching one shoulder, makes me sigh—
You know exactly what to do.
You make me happy through and through,
The way the sun lights up the sky—
1 think of little else but you.
I hardly sleep-an hour or two;
I can’t eat much and this is why—
You know exactly what to do.
The movie in my mind is blue—
As June runs into warm July
I think of little else but you.
But is it love? And is it true?
Who cares? This much I can’t deny:
You know exactly what to do;
I think of little else but you.
“From June to December Summer Villanelle” by Wendy Cope from Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis. © Faber & Faber, 1986. (buy now)
Your beauty, nude
not naked on the bed,
is far more a gift
than I ever expected.
I watch languor recline
1n your wise grey eyes
while slate hummingbirds
carved as earrings
dangle from golden hooks.
I quiver in your breath
and the ceiling fan halts
in that instant.
We look at one another
with both eyes open and close.
An intimate wind,
the cause of auroras,
moves north and south,
east and west,
then we swim
into one another.
“Not Naked on the Bed” by Timothy Young from Building in Deeper Water. © The Thousands Press, 2003. (buy now)
I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail,
And a few lilies blow.
And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.
And so we must ask ourselves:
What is freedom?
Do we decide when to wake?
When to sleep?
Do not authorities order our
Or our partners do?
“You have to get up early!”
“Why do you stay up so late?”
Order belongs to the day,
Unordered things, the night.
Nakedness emerges in the night…
Bodies come together, touch, in the night.
What is put aside during the day
And only implied at dinner, or the theater
Finally takes place in the secrecy of the dark.
We trade freedom for order in the hours of light.
We reclaim our freedom in secret, in the night.
Pushed hard to starboard,
Her gunn’l kisses the vast wet,
Shuddering in orgasmic fervor
Along her keel, thrumming into the deep,
Bow digging in, shaking it off, spray flying.
She’s a thoroughbred running for the joy of it
Heart of teak and sail aching for the horizon.
Blue-green foam hisses past her hull,
Tackle creaks and groans,
Pushed taut and dangerous by a hectoring,
Keening wind rising on our stern quarter.
The rudder bucks but holds true to sou’-southeast and home.
She rises on the nearside swell and swoops down the backside of
Waves stirred and provoked to 20 feet by a restless air.
She’s caught a scent of
Something dark and thrilling in the lowering clouds ahead,
And I either ride her or die.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
There are these moments every January
Like the one that hit at 4:42 PM
East Coast time today,
Usually after a string of crappy, cold,
Grey days with a Nor-easter in the forecast.
On the weather channel,
They’re having impressive,
Fully clothed group orgasms, apparently stimulated by
A couple of winter storms…
Doing what storms do.
(You can check if you want to.
Their stamina is truly amazing.)
Now to an electrician working outside—
It’s a “This Old House” segment,
Where a guy is Putting in a new outside light pole—
That flipped a switch in my head.
I kind of got emotional after that.
T-shirts, tool belts. Jeans, warm weather work gear.
Fixing stuff....Green grass, trees swaying in a breeze.
It was the sunlight—I felt the warmth—
That hit with a surprising flash of longing.
And the shadows, too.
The shadows jumping and playing across
Everyone and everything, transmitting the dance
Of Maple leaves in the warm breezes,
Of another, distant July in New England.
The shadows danced over the scene in that
Careless way the world’s wonders do.
They perform effortlessly for us, for free,
And we don’t see them at the time,
Focused as we are on
Getting the job done.
I’m still not sure how I got here,
I would really like to know how I got here.
It feels as though all of my life so far,
Has just been practice for ….what comes next.
I want things to be harder,
I want to push beyond what I thought was possible.
I want to be astonished, over and over.
I want to feel the aches and pains and get mad,
And ignore them like the bastards they are.
I don’t know if I’ll be successful, but no longer
Give two fucks in a velvet bag about that.
What happens next needs to be a mystery,
A surprise. I like surprises.
It might be a heart attack, I suppose,
But that’s really not a surprise.. more a cliche, really.
I just hope I’ll find a few things I didn’t know,
Somethings, really, each more wonderful, elegant, sublime,
Than the last.
What more to life could there be?
Well, maybe one thing: I hope some lovely dark beauty
Young enough to be my granddaughter looks twice and thinks,
I’ll take a piece of that!
And I’ll still want to oblige.
Oh, that perfect moment,
Elusive, secretive, rare,
When an idea is there to be plucked
From the murky waters of confusion.
What a prickle of hedgehogs we are,
Ultimately alone, denying the brutal reality of that,
Compulsively looking for love,
For warmth and deep tenderness,
For a touch that says “Come to me. I see you as you are.”
For a look that says
“Let’s mix it up but good, buster!
Let’s leave the sheets damp, the room smoldering and the neighbors jealous.”
All the while bristly with defenses: automatic, deadly.
When we are close enough, and when the sheets have dried;
When we’re drinking coffee and cursing traffic jams;
When silences grow; when the unknowns press against the window,
There come in under the door the sounds of small clawed feet,
Snuffling old things, blind and dangerous things.
Things we’d rather keep hidden.
From each other.
What a prickle of hedgehogs we are,
Driven together, driven apart, dancing on the points
And finding a way.
Lithe embodiment of Grace.
Stay with me a while.
By Leo Babauta
We all suffer, every day: worry, procrastination, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, irritated, angry, frustrated, wishing things were different, comparing ourselves to others, worried we’re missing out, wishing other people would be different, feeling offended, loneliness, fear of failure, not wanting to do something, wishing we had less fat or bigger boobs or bigger muscles, angry at being controlled, wanting to find the perfect someone, wishing our partner was more perfect, stressed about finances, not wanting to think about problems, not knowing how to fix things, uncertain about choices, rushing from one task to the next, not liking our jobs.
And yet, these problems are self-created.
They’re real, but our tricky minds have created them. The problems are in our heads, created by some ideal/fantasy/expectation of how we wished the world would be, or hope it will be but fear it won’t be. It exists in our heads.
Try this, for a minute: let all of that go for a moment, and just pay attention to the physical things around you right now. Your body, the light, sounds, the thing you’re sitting on, the things moving or sitting still around you. Don’t judge them against what they should be, but just observe what they actually are.
See this moment as it is, without all the things you’re worried/frustrated/angry about. Let go of all of those things, and just see this moment.
It is perfect, as it is.
Accept this moment. Cherish it. This is real, and it is wonderful.
You can go back to worrying about everything else in a moment.
How difficult this would be, especially in our consumerist culture that fetishisizes instant gratification:
1. Accept everything just the way it is
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
7. Never be jealous.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
11. In all things have no preferences.
12. Be indifferent to where you live.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
17. Do not fear death.
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
20. You may abandon your own body but you must
preserve your honour.
21. Never stray from the Way.
― Miyamoto Musshi
You few, you happy few who spent time in the purgatory of a newspaper news desk writing headlines on deadline will see this and feel a pang of joy and jealousy. “Lucky bastard,” you may mutter.
For a desk editor, this is the equivalent of the hanging fastball over the middle of the plate. This is better than Babe Ruth pointing to the center field wall with his bat, challenging the pitcher to bring the heat. This is better than Yukon Pete hitting a gold nugget the size of a Volkswagon Beetle with his pick.
One of these can make your month—or more. And your colleagues will clip it out and put it up on the office bulletin board and you can bask in the acclaim for a while—almost long enough to make up for the lousy hours, illiterate junior flip reporters, starvation wages and insane managing editors.
But while it lasts….. ahhhhh…
The work must be done. It must be done and all the tricks to avoid starting eventually have to be unmasked and ignored.
The beginning of the new year is as good a time as any to make promises to myself. Most of my promises are bullshit, and I know that about me. But I can’t let my self-deceptions keep me immobilized. So, the work must be done.
The feeling I have brings up an image of a cat, muscles twitching and bunching, feet feeling for purchase, something to push off of. You know the look of coiling springs when a cat is about to launch itself at something? That’s how this feels. We all have our own rituals. One of mine is to read good writing, sometimes for days, and letting the ideas and the words wrap themselves around something inside and get it excited.
So it is when the work must be done. I find words like these and use them to pull me back to the chair, fight the resistance with action, ignore my own whining, and pounce.
Hello again, “Running Girl”. Let’s go do interesting things to each other, shall we?
Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Under the Heavens,
We, made of those very stars,
Breathe wonder and awe.
The Most Astounding Fact (Download)
I posted this in June, during recovery. I apologize for the repeat, but this is one of two things I’m adding today in honor of the New Year. I don’t usually wish a Happy New Year, since nothing really is predictable. But I do hope that we all get some wishes answered, and pray you all wish well.
When I was younger, I desperately wanted to see my future, to know what was to be. In my arrogance, I thought I knew everything, and as it turns out, I know next to nothing. Less than nothing sometimes. My ignorance grows with age.
Now, looking back at what things litter the path of my personal journey, the triumphs and the broken bodies, I’m thankful that I didn’t know what was to come. Even the good things, but most certainly the bad. It would have been too much. It would have destroyed me, and, I suspect, it would destroy most of us.
I don’t know much, but think this much is true. We’re here to get through it somehow, and to learn what we can, but only one day at a time. Or, sometimes, just one hour at a time. That, and it’s important to learn how to be kind.
More knowing would fill us with grief and fear and tear us apart. We just aren’t strong enough to handle it.
Let the young believe that they know everything, though. We need their optimism and energy. Life will teach them too. It always does. But we should not wish to see the future. We should wish to live each day to the hilt, we should hope we have the courage to face what comes, and the future will take care of itself.
From a scene in “The Passenger”, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and starring Jack Nicholson as reporter named Locke:
Locke repeatedly asks the girl, as she looks out the window, “what can you see? what can you see now?”
And he tells her this story:
“I knew a man who was blind. When he was nearly 40 years old he had an operation and regained his sight….At first he was elated, really high—faces, colors, landscapes. But then everything began to change. The world was much poorer than he had imagined. No one had ever told him how much dirt there was, how much ugliness. He noticed ugliness everywhere. When he was blind, he used to cross the street alone with a stick. After he regained his sight, he became afraid, he began to live in darkness, he never left his room.
After three years he killed himself.”