the thing in my head

NOT BEING A POEM  or just treading water?
A Voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
      Marcel Proust
what do you do when you look in the mirror and no one looks back?
no, not writer’s block, more pervasive.  red blood knows.
room for rent
you’d of thought I’d heard, remembered remembering, wouldn’t you?  if someone says, oh yea, there’s a thing in your head.  memorable?  but I didn’t, even as local knowledge says otherwise.  meningioma, they said.  like a distressing thumb pressing home.  less memory, less balance.  less.  what to do?  take it away, they say to me.  they do.
yet another uninvited uncle remains, just won’t leave.  it has a tail like a question does.  but words say nothing of experience.  being me.
3 AM.  my sugar is low and I’m feeling it.  some sweetness and soon I’m mended right.  go out to the balcony.  wandering rain is washing the Washington fire smoke away.  some, but only some.  a Puget Sound fog horn makes its low slow song out in the dark.  sailors beware.  I am comforted, made right again.
the horn is like my writing is.  finding home is water I don’t know.  two poems, first in few.  one about the companionship of snails and a white butterfly in this pandemic haze, another day in paradise.  and the other, this one here, the thing in my head.  literal story telling.
not really a poem.  just something to say.
better wisdom recently sown says, what isn’t a poem?  I don’t know.
What is human existence?  It turns out it’s pretty simple:
We are dead stars, looking back up at the sky.

      Dr. Michelle Thaller
what star ever dreamed of becoming me?
me, I like to say heart rather than think.  heart is visceral.  is that me?  thoughts some folk think they should eschew, but nothing wrong.  thoughts are how we make peanut butter and jam sandwiches.  a very useful skill.  left hand, right hand.  but ask, what comes before the thought is a thought?  is that also radiant of my body and head?
I’m tired of being woken up from sleeping.
three in the morning, but not the same as before.  I am feeling afraid.
I have a spinal tap due later this day.  I feel afraid of the pain.  and pain has been a frequent companion these last several weeks.  that sense has made some memories.  but are they feelings or actually “thoughts”?
fear I suspect is me not listening.
I am being too loud.  three in the morning is both shadow & whispering.  I go stand on the balcony.  I hear the many wheels of a train moving by four blocks down toward the water from me.  but I’m more loud than the train.  the lady across the street isn’t awake watching television now.  I rather like the changing colors visible through her front window there.
then I remember my first spiritual teacher.  why say “spiritual”?  his whole life was how he taught real living.  then I touch the memory of his dying and he didn’t want to go.  seemed almost counter clockwise at the time, but no, he was “perfectly” human.  one of us.  what grace is given me?
I loved the man and I was afraid of the man.  he once said to me, tell me what you need of me and that’s how I will be for you, allowing you to come close with me.  who says something like that to another human being all genuine as he was?  no pretense.  authentic.  I never answered him!  I was that measure not open to our lives.  seems impossible, but silently, I said nothing, meaning – no.  I don’t talk about that.
When I dream at night, they save a place for me, no matter how small, somewhere by the fire.
      William Stafford
home.  more you than any other meaning.  remind me please.
between head surgery and an intense pain at the base of my spine my recovery healing surprises most everyone.  mostly I feel unattached to fear.  that surprises me more than the other.
all this is inside my head.  more thoughts than stars.
as I begin to understand the words, I miss the concept, I miss the experience.  to remove something I often put a mask over it.  lost in my remembering story.
at his funeral I thought, alright lesson made, time to rise and show us all.  that thought repeated from chapel to graveside.  then the final layer of mortar to seal the door.  the lesson would have no excuse of miracle aside from us to carry home.
I am my own gravity.  fear.  loving.  choose.
me and other blinking stars.
the reality of all your shapes is here, resident within my head.
and one white butterfly where the garden breathes.  this too.

6 thoughts on “the thing in my head

  1. Good question: What is a poem? Do I have an answer? Some days, maybe. Other days I turn my back, maybe even walk away. Is it important to know? Same, same. Are we stars, or just the dust they left behind? Have to be truthful. There are those who would definitely brush me aside. No more than useless particles that clutter the surface of their existence. And that too is okay.

    I like your rambling words. They took me to all sorts of places. Some memory, others just thoughts, even a few surprises. Thank you for putting them here, in my path, today. I suddenly don’t feel quite so alone.



    1. thanks, being so steadfast Elizabeth. hmm. my phrasing is easier perhaps. what’s a poem? harder to say that way. however, what isn’t a poem – that makes more sense to me. saying simply, “yes”, is easier says me. pleased too if reading makes for feeling less alone. me too, back and forth, forgetting, remembering, then again. your voice matters to me. thank you. Neil


  2. My mirror is a thick spiral, with fewer words in a month than formerly in a week. And most if them slick. But I recognize some of yours. Not meningioma, but certainly fear. Loss. Some days are pretty good.


    1. yes barbara, some big-city words like meningioma do little or less for me – thus my title here, the thing in my head. feel I’ve done something right to entice your response with my own very few words of late. and “some days are pretty good”, I like an optimist. when I forget, gratitude is the word I like to recall. thanks much. Neil


  3. You ARE writing again! How I miss this. I am trying to find a way to get these in my inbox rather than in my reader. Just saw the box below to tick it off! Yay!


    1. OK Yay! Honored, I might say, but so much more than such a threadbare word. easy to be a moth to your words, that glorious flight, but too you make me feel I should be working with more passion of care for whatsoever lands on my own life. I shall so endeavor.


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