a journal of everything

 
 
when I was this much tall.   inches.   now, measure
goes by another name.   yet still, I am this much tall.
 
 
this is not like me
 
write down your sins.
no, those, those you don’t want to say.
maybe not even aloud to yourself.
 
some say the real meaning of sin is simply not ripe.
      not ripe yet.
 
 
here, right here, have it sit right next to you.   cousin, me.
 
here’s why.   she said, dogs have a clear conscience.   do we?
 
write.   write your list or paragraphs, not that you
ever need show anyone.   it’s process that makes change.
 
excuse me while I turn my back.   some lessons are big,
but most are small.   like this here.
 
 
here’s how you know when you’re seeing right.
how we got there I don’t know.   but it is,
 
      beautiful.
 
 
there are threads that say, who I am.
 
I am a child,   a son,   an aging man.
I am an observer,   a writer,   a forgetter.
I am willing arms.   I am broken.
I am shy on Mondays and Tuesdays.
 
I am alone.
I am forgiven, when the truth is said.
 
I am your friend.   possible.
 
you never see how many threads I really am
 
 
 
            As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not
            certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

                        Albert Einstein

            Language too, I’m wondering?
 
 

gathering momentum

 

 
casting a net:  I don’t know what this is.    I do.
fish respond:  I don’t know what to do with this is.    I do.

here’s a lesson, and it’s meant for me

take some small slices of pie, you know, like
those people those cars those crows passing by,
beside some bench beside some city street.

now, say thank you to so many each as you
can notice.    individually, I suppose.    saying,

            thank you      in your thought

no matter the face and shape.
sincerity counts.    but observe,

is your silent voice genuine?    you already know.

be the willing effect of.    everything.    freedom is.

notice what happens inside.    your own thought.
does gratitude know the way home?    it does.

to whom?    when is the universe not listening?

making thanks includes who and what I might
think otherwise to hold at arms length from

being close?    what changes?    where?

where does distance first exist?    who, you ask.
do we dare our feet to move?    each motion matters.

is there intimacy?    linger with that on your tongue.
a moment of intimacy is.    each one.    one moment,

            swimming far.

and when I forget.      remember instead.

appreciation arrives.    like air.    breathe.

before light

      
who am I           no question mark
 
 
am I my feet inside my shoes.   no socks today.   a holiday.

am I the feet that when they said, step forward, I did not.

no question mark           it’s all continuous
 
 
 

before there was light

 
 
picture a blue barn and orange sky

I am not the blue barn.     I am.
I am not the orange all around.     I am.

each dawn I am, barely visible
some say eyes open is the sun

imagination           more than a word
 
 
 
      I do not expect you to believe anything you’re seeing or hearing,
      and knowing you won’t believe me, that’s the only reason I’m going
      to tell you the truth.

            Derek DelGaudio, In & Of Itself
 
 
arms and chest and hands      that’s how they arrive

for a few moments my world is just you.
embrace.   I’d forgotten.   but now…

the world is every possible way that it can be, including this way here.
 
 
 
are your thoughts affectionate?   am I myself?
go ahead define, conscious affection.
 
 
 
am I breaking up & apart?   glacial turning back to light?
 
 
the world is generous of grace,
yet seems some shy lest you willingly pluck each fruit.
 
 
we change.   I change.

Not that I’m not the person that my history has grown.
I am.   And I’m not the same.   Bigger, Smaller, I am both.
 
 
and when asked, the word is recognize.
the rest will grow from there.

Anatomies

When you take a breath, are you satisfied?

Hands and.   Fingers, that touched like ragged silk.
Maybe it was you.

What scars do we hide?   How do I hold my hands?
Palm up, or down?   Choices can be this much small.

My presence will be erased by wind and rain, like
a mountainside gives itself away to remembering.

By eyes I see.   By touch, I know who I am.

What are my sins?   Another name for sin is lie.
Pretending I am not you.

What feast is this?   Dare we speak aloud, “I am beautiful”.
Did you mean it?   Do I?

We are visible by virtue of light.   No matter how sensitive,
no light, no sight.

Be the Light.

five noble truths

 
 
To write is far better than making things wrong.

When you look, see brightness.   No blemishes.

When you walk, you look down to see your feet.   When you walk, earth looks up to see your feet.   You become the sky.

When you breath, you are kissing the lips of god.   When your words smile with another’s, you are blessing the world.

When you are willing to let go all your stories you will be able to see heaven.   Then you’ll also know, this is it.
 

wayfinding

an essay perhaps

            says Fern about her house (from better days):

      It was just a company tract house. Actually, it was special.
      We were right on the edge of town and our backyard looks
      out onto this huge open space. It was just desert, desert,
      desert, all the way to the mountains.
                  There was nothing in our way.

            Fern (by Frances McDormand) from the movie, Nomadland
 
 

Ways to navigate. There’s Sun then Moon then Sun again. Stars too, from ears to toes. Wind whispers near. Breath circumnavigates in response. There’s how waves move above a slow nesting sea. Fish too, swimming deeper than restless sight. My hand in the water. Does skin taste the salt? Ripples, the ones you keep and those you let pass by. How Moon becomes the limber sea. Oh yes, and the smell of dry land.
      Remarkable!

And the scent of you.

Wayfinding.   I like that word.   Isn’t that what we’re doing here?

There’s the warm pulse living inside my chest. Amber hills that seasons reflect. And there, there, another like me and I see the curve, the way a hand would appreciate shape, and what also beats inside, how we measure near and far.

More than a compass reveals.
 
 
 
      What is essential is invisible to the eye.

            Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
 
 
 
            What I got wrong.

Mother said Presbyterian, but from the shallow end of the pool, and then, “my choice”. I looked. I didn’t believe, except that they looked colorless to me. No home. Later, my first, my only, high school girlfriend, she was Japanese. A small offering shrine in their home, toast for the ancestors. So I studied Buddhism, not that she cared in the least. But the dye was cast and no removing it. How’s that for brief history?

Not that history says why, rather what and how, maybe who, and as such always seemed fair and right questions to me. Mostly, no real teachers so imagine a patchwork mess. Oh yea, and I should include being painfully shy. Not a very good lubricant.

A child of the Sixties and going into Space, so reasonable science became more church than church. Over many years the pot on the stove grew in volume. Bubbling, blending, they came to an understanding I was willing to embrace. Reasonable?

Like mom said, it was always my choice. However, no choice about having choice. No matter the source, the story inside always is within what understandings I’m willing to swallow. My choice. That is simple mechanics, how it works.

To summarize what hasn’t yet been said, I thought I carried some useful notions about this jigsaw in my lap. It all made a certain reasonable sense but the math always summed up to zero,
      neutral was the word I used.

      The universe didn’t care.

Much later a genuine teacher crossed my wandering. He was honest, I was not. He observed experience, I did not. He understood math better than me. From youth he had angels at the foot of his bed. And no compromise, no negation of his experience. His universe was not neutral, not at all. Neither was he.

Here’s the math.

      in my view 1 plus -1 = 0

      in his vision 1 plus -1 = 1

Noticeable difference it seems to me. Seen through another lens,

      Love is the state, the act, of unconditional acceptance.
      That’s a pretty big mouthful just of itself. More rightly said,
      the true nature of existence is “love with affection”.

      Connected.   Not passive.   Engaged.

      A lie does not negate what is true. That math is wrong.
            I was wrong.

As a human, he liked his experience of life. As human, I did not. No mystery why my notions had a certain blindness the way they leaned.

Same same as choice. You are the only one point of view to look and choose. Tell me what your own life says to you. Fear or joy? Which feels real to you? A stranger walking by, do their eyes meet yours? Aversion or greeting, which feels like home?

Does the world include awareness, affection? If you do, then the answer is yes. You are both evidence and proof. Ask the question. Take the answer you get. Look. Choose.
      Mother said.
 
 
      harbored in between.
      far water. and,

      no bigger than my thumb
      ferryboats, moving east to me

      and westerly where,

      I don’t know.

Is there listening when I speak? when I think? when I feel?
 
 
      Aphorisms   The truth doesn’t mean anything. It just is.

      Happiness is a function of accepting what is. Love is a function
      of communication. Health is a function of participation. Self-
      expression is a function of responsibility.

            Werner Erhard, Aphorisms
 
 
Astronomers pose the question, Are we alone?

I’ve come to recognize I take that personally – Am I alone?

No, not meaning interstellar companions, rather what is already right here with us. You and me, obvious, although a challenge of itself. But how about – a bird, a breeze, a bench? The molecules in your hand? What is the mutual experience being us all?

Is there companionship and purpose here?

Does that make us free to appreciate? Or the other way round, is appreciation what makes us free?
 
 
 

      about the elephant in the room

So alright, more said for me than you. Howsoever, it wants saying because after all – it is an Elephant. My blood is not behaving as it should. Real enough. I continue only through the grace of an equally intense medicine. This situation is also – so what? But my cognitive ability does suffer some. That makes a difference here. Words come less easily. Associations, questionable in scope. Less than ideal if writing is my chosen craft. The difference is both visible and invisible. How do I see what I’m not seeing, not remembering!

So my question of late is how do I write anyway? I don’t have an answer. It’s like having suddenly shorter arms. The three observable differences are writing less often, ideas more easily lost, fewer words in smaller aggregations – and yea, tiredness that’s become a distracting background
      noise.

This is what is given me. I do not have the heart to be unappreciative.

You gotta pay for the ferryboat. Or learn to swim.

My prayer for you.   May there be nothing in your way.

neil reid

relevance


 
may you smile.
 
 
     Lightness is always good when plowing language.
 
What and how to say and be?
 
Maybe   here    is the best I can do.

Maybe my expectations don’t fit simple truth. Do my intentions really matter as a step ahead? Do I even, honestly, get to prescribe how my intentions reach to ground? Or should I simply look at them as shadow stitched onto my feet? Abundant self-criticisms. Moment inside moment. No quaking earth, but one foot in front of the other. What about all of those thousand thousand steps? Arrogant to criticize myself for placing the fork to the left or right of the plate? What other sins?

Does the cat crossing the street lament self-doubts? The birds embracing the limbs they rest upon? The window, the door? What storms intrude that make any difference to the feast? Cross the street. That’s enough.

Breathe.   Observe.   Participate.   Appreciate.
 
 
 
When I was rather young it was joy that frightened me more than pain.
 
However.   Cobblestones.   I’ve been in the river a long time now.
 
 
dear Charles.  Remembering, a present tense verb. Two footprints in the sand. Do you hear the village cleansing bells? Men lift and persuade the loadsome bell platform down the narrow village street. Homes, the sliding doors open wide. Families, they move the doors. Rooms open with sky. Purity of regard. The way that breathing moves the chest, moves the sky.

Once you asked, what could you do to make me feel safe with you? Anything. Anything, you said. (Who says and means something like that!) My silence was impermeable. Meaning, no, nothing to give. I was afraid. Now, in a new tropic dream, you enter the circle, you ask again, come with me, and now this time, I do. Did you see?

Blessings chimed.   Expunge broken things.   Lift.   Move the bell.   Repeat.

 
 
 
Ten-ish I gather my daily regimen of pills. Then drizzle them onto tongue. Some water. Then swallow. Do I hate taking pills? I used to say, well, think, I hated these exotic shells of chemistry that keep my blood intact. These days I favor not using that word, not what I really mean – too violent. Language makes difference. Besides, emotionally the moment that most confronts my attention are the simple actions moving pills from their bottles into my attendant cup. That’s when resistance happens loud for me.

 
 

I am probably mistaken much of the time. However this gathering of me is all I have to offer – except for having you. And yes, no matter distance, your living colors into mine. A matter of choice.

At my best, and that is only a fraction of me, I want to know who you are and I want you to see who I am. To know and be known.

Beloved.   More than a word.
 
 
     the simple breath that kept him alive.
          Naomi Shihab Nye
 
 
 
A recent post I read brought to question relevance. So what if I have cancer? How mundane. Some people have cats, some have dogs, some, nothing to eat. Although honestly, so often now I color my thoughts with a myriad of not-yets possible. Far from any semblance of enlightenment. No, not a thought about why me, nor even how do I escape the fate of life.
          But where is the grace in my heart?

 
 
                           1
          Times in the morning early
          when it rained and the long grey
          buildings came forward from darkness
          offering their windows for light

     William Stafford, from Some Things the World Gave
 
 
generosity is an expression of gratitude.

said another way.   generosity is the root verb of gratitude.

said another way.   it is gratitude in motion.
 
 
 
May my life be received like fresh baked bread.
 
 
Poems.   A late life arrival but here for the duration. I said I would – write – but sometimes it’s shaky ground. More than desire it takes the guise, do I have anything worth saying? No escape. Bonded companions perhaps – write and doubt. Mutual regard?   But what if.

What if language grows opaque and rigid for me? Memory is a real question that way. Experience seems trustable, but words? For that I need a good hammer and nails. What to write if words get thin?
          I don’t have an answer.

I have a possible obsession with the question – are poems real? Are they merely ink on paper? Do they harvest some difference in more than just a busy life with a bag of marbles to collect? I suspect they do. I hope they do. I think a poem can carry a breath. And one breath can begin Anything. And Everything. Participation is what makes a difference.
          This is an unexpected universe.

Write a poem that heals.   Isn’t that real? Possible? Once upon a time I gave this response, Read this poem aloud. Me, I don’t think it met the challenge, not in a conventional poem manner. Yet the title itself, that invitation to “read aloud”, that carries engagement in a real human sense.   Voice.
          That realization is within easy reach.
 
 
 
                 excerpt from Story Time

          Bring me a new one, maybe with a dog
          that trots along side, and a desert with a hidden
          river no one else finds, but you go there
          and pray and a great voice comes.
                 And everything listens.

                 William Stafford
 
 
 
This journal posting goes maybe one step more near. First and last lines. Keep them but toss the rest as you wish. Touch. Touch and motion is how I measure truth. Connection is only realized in twos. Given by one, received by another. Relationship, by another name. Smile.
          Message delivered.

Does a life have purpose being here? Is purpose attractive (not pretty, but attracting)? A pebble like a tree like an afternoon wind like the sound of a voice, these too apply their purpose being here.
          Genuine acceptance is thus defined.
 
 
Is my life not poem enough?
 
 
may your face smile when you think of me.
 
 

Lucky Mud

 
          God made mud.  God got lonesome.
          So God said to some of the mud, “Sit up!”
          “See all I’ve made,” said God, “the hills, the sea,
          the sky, the stars.”
          And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and
          look around.  Lucky me, lucky mud.
          I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had
          done.  Nice going, God.
          Nobody but you could have done it, God!
          I certainly couldn’t have.  I feel very unimportant
          compared to You.  The only way I can feel the least
          bit important is to think of all the mud that didn’t
          even get to sit up and look around.
          I got so much, and most mud got so little.
          Thank you for the honor!

          Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
          What memories for mud to have!

          What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud
          I met!  I loved everything I saw!

               Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
 
 
Gravity.

Attraction begins at the feet.
 
 
Do we dare?  I’m unsure how to say this – polite.  Could I be more clever than I am?  More or less by my own words?  So forgive, as you see fit.  Not only the sky is overcast right now.  Me included.  Forcasted, fog.

Pardon the lengthy quote.  But seems it translates better stated whole, top to bottom-ish.  Sometimes I read and think I have a real-life glimpse.  
Sometimes I forget.  Sometimes a lot.  And god or not-god, this stance is about our response to living.  So Christian or Buddhist or whatsoever don’t matter here.  Allow yourself to receive and see how this fits on you.

We will, we do, make some immediate measure of judgement.  But so much as you can, save that for five minutes after reading is done.  Do these garments linger on your skin?  Can we really – really – know till we welcome the visit whole heartedly?  No drama.  Listening is a gift we give ourselves.
 
 
Isn’t it odd?  I feel my most genuine self when engaged with other people.  Yet what source am I?

What’s the right time for what feelings we allow to roost within?  Not uncommonly I’ve used the word “hate” to colorize, emphasize many of the situations and events in my life.  Make me look bigger.  Bigger than what’s perceived as threat, even discomfort as well.  Two lessons learned.  Who feels that texture, that taste on the lips, that sense of less-than-wellbeing?  Yea, obvious.  And more of personal lost grace, is that extreme attitude really what I mean?  Do I hate the can of cat food I spill on the floor, the slow motion customer in the checkout line in front of me, the person who cut in line ahead of me?  Do I hate the overcast grey sky above?  Do I really hate the weather?  It’s an emotional dishonesty.  And habit takes no measure of appropriateness or desirability.  Buyer beware!

Be honest about what you say.

And the mirror stance here?  Gratitude.  In its active form, generosity.

Decades past I worked on a project that put me ground-zero in Portland’s skid-row district.  Spare me some change, a common refrain we were asked.  My partner and I did some initial agonizing about the “right” course of action.  Would a handout just buy them another cheap bottle of wine?  Were we suckers to give in to their request?  Then it dawned on us!  What if their request story was not true?  What precisely was our sin if we give them money?  Simple.  Our sin was being generous!  If they lied, that’s on them, not us.  We became at ease to respond however felt appropriate in the moment.  Just say what you want, leave the “story” in a bag.  Someone asks for your help (big or small). What do you do?

I want to choose gratitude.  I want to choose generosity.

Suppose I got reasons to fret or worry or adopt ingratitude.  Blood gone astray, seriously.  It has been (and present tense) a challenge to attitude.  No matter.  Every day, another choice.  If any prayer is worth my time, then pray, may I choose gratitude.  No vacation.  No days off.
 
 
choose.  where does choice happen?  describe that who and where and when.

Feeling like kind of a long story here.  Maybe sometimes repetition serves receiving?  I can also feel my own resistance to allowing simple notions to have their moment of truth.  Oh no, that doesn’t apply to – me.  That’s something I can’t really do.  Iceberg tips.  Till I take something full onto my skin, I can’t see if I even really really understand.  Call it an unashamed trial.

And there’s an issue about being naive and being gullible.  Give it up!  Life is bigger than doubts.
 
 
Gratitude.   Generosity.   What is the left hand here?   Appreciation.   choice.

 
 
          What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud
          I met!  I loved everything I saw!

balance

  
standing on the balcony.
well below body temperature.  I feel.  a token name.
moisture squeezes from sky above.

feet on damp wood, there at one end of me.
legs like wooden stilts.  do they bend?

relax posture from bone to muscle.  feel.
feel tension discover itself.  upright.
two legs.  pillar pairs.  wordlessly ripe.

one center in between.
that’s where weight is held in breath.
a little more here.  then there.

balance.  amazing.  amazing.

uplift.  erosion of doubt.  surprising.

balance moves is the truth.

leaves with feet, traveling

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