everything close is close to me
there’s a fondness I have for things near my feet
Thanks rendered to Ren Powell for her intimate photographic essay entitled Left. Observationally brilliant. When this poems first blog started, I’d not thought to include anything other than purely language poems, clean and focused. But I’m coming to recognize the lack-in-generosity of that content filtering. So here this photo image in kin response to Ren’s imagining (my thanks, and while looking for something else, found this cousin of that image and so here presented, in sighted appropriate kind I think).
neil, december 2020
Maybe this time I’ll rescue my Mother.
Pearl Harbor will just be a sleepy port of call.
Nobody came & nobody went away from home.
Nothing lost. No wedding bells.
We’ll gaze at the mist of plum blossoms
on the wide valley floor. Feed my lambs, someone
said. Someone loves like wind. No shunted hopes,
no brown uniform thrown on the bed.
His face won’t be in that photograph.
His face won’t look like mine. Nothing
gambled, lost in the high desert dust.
No frozen clothes on a winter line.
Brothers will just be brothers, won’t
go speechless in the silent light of home.
Although that one of them, he’ll still
go to Alaska on a tall sail ship.
He’ll still die, an artful youth of a man.
Some things just gotta be. Else no
wonder of clay, no sister on my desk.
Maybe Grandfather & Grandmother
will harvest ample roots on the rock-strewn
sides of farmers hills. No drought.
Maybe Mother will land covered in Spring rain.
Maybe she’ll smile, never knowing
I changed everything, including me.
read footnotes about this poem
what is body doing now?
my body is feeling gravity. my feet, the dirt. my hands, my tail, the metal bench. my body is moving blood. shake it down into fingertips. see the pink emphasis. my body is moving food. or is food moving, twisting and turning my bodies path. my body is moving air. feel the breeze in nose then throat. pressure inside. greater than. swallow the atoms we want to keep. see breath in cool morning air, reflecting out of me.
my eyes are seeing trees. seeing leaves, thinking autumn falling down, seeing stone made by hand, seeing knees, seeing hands. seeing a woman crossing the street, then two men. seeing bright across the street and above, seeing shadow, like thoughts sometimes. seeing birds, only in swift glancing flight. seeing the time of light, seeing change.
my hands are holding shapes. sculpting shapes. tenderness. curiosity.
here, come close.
skin feels air. more at the back of my neck when I don’t wear a hat.
my feelings feel thinking, but thinking does not think feelings, just impressions the way water does. horse and buggy would be an analogy. feelings feel in several voices all at once. feelings keep moving south and west and east and north. is it a matter of heart?
when a tree in the forest falls, the forest feels it fall. relationship.
relationship holds us to its breast. be at ease I inform myself.
and sleep becomes the mirror image of that breath.
maybe it’s not so easy living that meditation wherein we see ourselves in all we see. clouds and trees and a lady opening her refrigerator door in the dark of evening time. and gravity. and home. the pages of a book.
what is, is. what isn’t, isn’t.
maybe I should say how writing began for me?
should I say prayer? or say meditation, if that’s a more comfortable word.
I asked what should I do next in life?
no break in the clouds, no ray of light, no god speaking from afar. yet a day later one word came in reply to me.
no italics. no quotation marks. no period ending dot.
just that one doing-ness to do. nothing else. nothing else.
not what to write. poems were my choice. not write well. not write and publish. nothing else.
not write and heal the world. nor even heal me. maybe one cat or a few,
but that’s not a poems realm, just my own.
not write and be well read. certainly no fame.
not write and fix my car.
not write and do my laundry.
not write and change what language says.
not write and not grow old.
not write and fix my broken blood.
not write and live another day. maybe today will do.
not write and be loved. but maybe, maybe, writing -is- loving.
not write and be satisfied.
not write and be happy.
I think I know what was meant by that first word.
I’ve always likened it to father asking me to go mow the lawn please son.
and with gratitude, I did. I do.
because I was asked. because it is my honor to respond. a very good word
is simply – yes.
now my living depends upon the medicine I daily take. there is another layer in how I look, how I see the world. invisible until you arrive.
maybe my words will break. but not yet. not yet. and I think I’ll keep mowing the lawn.
maybe we are meant to live with our insides out?
I’m your neighbor, I’ll just be listening.
Something like Loneliness 01
we could say boundary, yet frontier seems more right, border seems more right. more untouched. more close as breath. more fertile.
ten fingers, two hands, arms, shoulders, one neck.
I rather like putting new words in the dirt for a while. let them get dusty and ripe.
a border is where we watch people change. here people and there people. fluid the way warm butter is. tangential.
injuries. broken leg, four years old, broken wrist, broken kidney twice, broken hearts, broken door, broken blood, broken cure. keeping this list of injuries.
what is your list of immaculate dangers?
does head know hands, as likewise, hands know feet?
how close is close enough? would you answer differently one year ago?
one mouth, one nose, two ears to touch. audible.
writing is meditation.
spoken in public, it reminds me of new and better hope.
if margins are about edges, there’s the edge of a cliff.
my solar plexus is a kaleidoscope moving south.
is there a geography in how you feel being here, being you? is there a north and a south? maybe tiger stripes. are there independently minded states of self? any civil war declared?
here too, look see, there’s a fracture in the universe.
it’s attention that motivates the flow of time. and identity.
two eyes, one chin, one brow, two lips spoken aloud.
are you alone in a crowd? who is the you that feels alone?
who is the who you keep talking to? who of you speaks first?
are we made of one substance or many, in body and in mind?
blessings. dawn alone in Pacific Grove, better friends than myself, being loved, being, saving that one seven-year-old picture of me, my cowboy hat, a pocketful of ceramic buttons, listening, listening. words.
forgetting. then. remembering the two of us like a seventh wave.
material is mostly empty space. as they say. so then, what’s space?
is space substance? is there no being alone? are we bubbles, you and me? two traces of silver thread?
meditation is writing this.
like the world needs wolves.
01 Something like Loneliness is a short film directed by Seth and Ben Epstein, and based on the award winning play by Ryan Dowler.
credit where due, thanks to Ren Powell and her Nothing But Metta4, Fish Pose, for starting this ball rolling downhill.
the thing about making things hidden is to put them right in front of your nose. that’s said by experience. literal. figurative.
if I’m kind, I’ll give attention as observational, rather than judgmentally. habit wiggles its ears, entering the room. tonight I think, I’d rather not even observe with a mind to correct. would that be ungenerous to simple honest seeing sight?
there was a point, young-time, and specifically so, when I changed. long recognized as pivotal, yet equally so, untouchable.
a black cowboy hat with white trim, a sheriffs badge, (and sorry, but) a holster and toy gun. no boots, just shoes. I was a walking talking dream on my sleeves. but costumes are symbols for water running deeper than common sight – props are just props, but past wet roots is an answer to the question of not what – not about furniture – but who.
I remember the day. I was young. suppose no one yet had ever said an unkind word to me. thus ill prepared, another kid said something to invalidate my fantastical view of life. just now the feeling – what was damaged was my sense of the poetry of myself, my life in whole. and yea, my choice, feeling smaller, feeling judgmentally curbed.
how did it really feel? my happiness went to sleep.
alright, no discussion heals history. neither is that why I am here. what I always left tabled when remembering was & is who was I before my path went another and half-hearted, blinds pulled down sort of way.
when I looked I looked no further than the point of change!
anger has had more appeal than a wondering thirsty sight. is it about vibration? confusing calm versus a loud noise? even today I notice some second glances when confrontation’s in the neighborhood. but it’s the traditional ice that once sank a boat. mostly underwater.
I’ve both fondness and faith in free-association. reasons might render understanding, but no illumination. it is more than embarrassing to forget so thought-fully, so shadowless. maybe a notion in palm of simple kindness? do I wonder what that child would think of me now? but more my place to hold the sugar here in place? forgiveness. generosity.
looking is not a passive process.
what you bring becomes a lens.
there’s a notion that much of our sense of self is rope-bound onto place and people. change those two and history takes a break. I never did that intentionally but by circumstance. moving home, arriving seven hundred miles from my life time geography, a different me came into the light. what was discomfort was now nourishing.
maybe enough, saying hello to a ghost?
generosity associate face-to-face steadfast dilation
wonder wide wider home burning log windowing
ferryboat feathers wings.
first fingers float ocean sea water boat parent speaks
photographic paragraph one & only sight crescent moon
fatherless sand & fruit.
what’s in-between in-between?
there’s a way of wonder, what was
what before a thought.
define tree wind breath motion breathe
nose & mouth and eyes, higher up.
vibrate voice parse confluent
ice cream pie the number two.
eyebrow thoughts, disperse.
closer lips, illuminate.
the elephant in the room.
what you swallow becomes what you think.
what you swallow becomes what you feel.
Monday, that’s the when I said I’d begin,
begin taking my new medicine. three pills.
more than enough.
ten in the evening to be precise. here,
set the alarm. distractions are easy for me.
the brain is a survival machine. but,
define the kaleidoscopic notions of survival.
in one way, that means maybe no pills
instead. resistance is futile, they say.
imagination is painting paths that include
no harvest of medicines. how do I get out
of these ropes? consequences? yes.
I’m not much for dramatic decisions.
but thoughts are busy butterflies.
the hour approaches. years past when
they first said cancer I was not afraid.
still not. but here, creative thoughts.
unkind. ungenerous. unconnected.
my blood is becoming confused and sour.
the remedy is toxic too.
do, don’t do. I think I already know.
but I’m a cat in water with no traction
when my mother’s late life dementia
became severe. cruel in a manner of
thoughtlessness, better just letting go,
came the thought.
but really, would this be the last sunrise,
the last sunset? not easy then to say.
not then. not now.
reasons to go. better reasons to stay.
let the universe call me home when
it wants. I have a different job.
when it comes to writing poems I have
only one real rule. don’t lie.
tell me, where do you see Paradise?
I may fall away from good seeing, but
that is me being blind. the universe is
eyes open. no fear. no lies. don’t lie.
love loves difficult things 01
the answer to joy is life
the answer to sadness is being
the answer to promise is spirit
the answer to pain is love
good boy. nice elephant.
01 This poem is a rephrasing of All This Joy written by John Denver.
If life is a question, then the answer is…
as an antidote to fear of death I eat the stars
too many words. too few spoken aloud. stumble is good.
my child, you are beautiful. I feel pain saying that to myself.
I used to think myself innocent because I didn’t inflict myself outwardly. that was the justified story. but no, merely subterfuge to have my way.
speak. stumble. be seen. be known, be known.
when I hear secular, I wanna say sacred. yea, sometimes I’m amused being contrary-wise. yet one-side is always a parse of the whole. tell me how we see two of anything. are secular & sacred mirror imprints of our existing? unified. two hands, is that a clue?
no, most churches wouldn’t much care for me. I agree.
The essential quality of the infinite is its subtlety, its intangibility. This quality is conveyed in the word spirit, whose root meaning is ‘wind or breath’. That which is truly alive is the energy of spirit, and this is never born and never dies.
David Bohm, physicist 01
I take this truth to be self-revealing.
what is, is. what isn’t, isn’t.
yet there’s a lurking sense of humor. everything. everything includes everything that is and everything that isn’t. that’s by nature, by essence. by secular logic too. does that feel right? your choice, you know.
these notions sit quietly in the corner of my head and don’t seem to want leaving. so this breath is how I see trees that move and wind on my skin and water on my feet.
put it this way. I see sacred in secular. said either way. no exclusions.
isn’t that love?
my one time teacher had lots to say. about existence, about everything. I think we were aligned. how all this came to be, why it is the way it is. all that stuff. but I had an exception left feral outside on the doorstep.
what is, is. yep, no problem. but he included more. affection.
I did not. it didn’t seem a necessity. but that was my hidden disguise of pain, of fear, me thinking myself alone. he had better eyes, better heart.
I was wrong.
he loved me. I wouldn’t love him. too discomforting to see, to say.
what proof? be kind, be generous. the proof is unconditional choice. and we can’t give it away, only demonstrate.
some say love doesn’t even belong to us. no more than we own wind.
do we say, a genuine open willingness? yet often palliative solutions abound. ain’t that normal? saved for only one? withheld for only one? does intimacy mean you gotta live with some only-one, love only-one, bind for all time? I discovered one-day that I could feel intimacy for even one-moment, and it was as rich as a thousand years might pretend.
does sky breathe for only one of us? choose.
long way to say, that’s how I want my writing to be. me too.
I fail a lot. I think too much. say words that are only thoughts. easy habit. common habit. shared habit. lies I’m unwilling to break? visceral feelings have better moments to explore.
free association. a downhill stream. trust is required. trust is the reward. say blue, what comes next? the answer you get is the answer you get. a certain lack of effort, struggle, except in letting go. there’s that sense of humor again. rivers don’t laugh, but they do smile.
this time of year our garden abounds with spiderwebs. foggy mornings witness their thirsty tapestries. I appreciate their companionship. about writing, I’d like to cast good threads. it is less about what I say than what you discover of your own relationship with experience. that’s you more than me!
I’ll miss spiderwebs when I’m not here to see.
I’ll miss the imprint of a maple leaf in wet, now solid, concrete.
and while my thoughts and feelings spiral about a breath, consider who we are. mostly hydrogen, mostly water, mother sea, mother star and mostly only slightly occupied space. David Bohm suggested when gazing into the heavens, rather than empty lifeless space, see the fabric of energetic spirit, a matrix filling everything and here and there bubbles of matter afloat in that sea.
so then, walking down the street, the wonder of galaxies whose faces I briefly meet. maybe fall in love. do stars too, love all the light they see?
now too the doctors say, here take this pill. do this for so long as your life takes balance. when they said cancer, years ago, fear was never a companion for me. life wiggles a little differently is all. but now, third time’s a charm, it is the financial side that says distress. never was my charm. it has no mass but it does have weight in thought.
writing I think, I feel, will be the better of medicines.
01 Infinite Potential, The Life & Ideas of David Bohm (YouTube video)
does she come to the balcony tonight?
half the light is in my hand,
nothing spills, no image lost.
you are as near as my imagining.
faded gingham folded into a gaze.
cheese and bread, toasted close.
my voice is bright undercover of night
yet in the day, whispering.
your hands more lips than voice.
grandmother Janet is silent now. neither does she listen.
great uncle Louis talks no more. doesn’t teach me tools
anymore. mother, Virginia, is only a photograph.
those were gods in their days.