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

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!


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


      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.