Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.”

30 October 2010

"Every day
I see or hear
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?"


— Mary Oliver, Mindful

Letters from the Outside, #26

There was a Franciscan I met in New Paltz who taught me a few things. We would sit on the rectory porch and watch heat lightning in far valleys, french inhaling. He taught me to look at the ground walking up a paved incline. Your mind pictures a flat surface without the anchor of a greater perspective and the walking is easier. There was a sloping lawn with a little paved path running up into the old square that you walked from town and sometimes you just had to put yourself into the traces of a narrow perspective and pull. He taught me to center myself in my senses. How do I feel? Endless midnight sand dunes, Oolong tea. Cool running water. The corn silo. Departing geese. For a person like me whos loosely tethered to the Here and Now, an exercise like this entertains the monkey mind and helps remind me that im Real, woven into a marvelous tapestry of experience, an endlessly rolling event horizon, our life a trajectory of displaced space through time.

Intense storm vanguard weather, the dense grey sky smudged with light diffused through where the clouds are worn through, whats left of the leaves blowing through the roar of winds through the valley. But its still warm out there, and theyre presaging snow. The dogs are restless, and so am I, my morning walk postponed over T.'s stay at home day. This is weather I love a great deal. The tempest tossing, treacherous water, wind in your hair. Witchy wild woman weather. Books and knitting by the woodstove when the mercury finally drops behind the blustery front. Bright Jupiter in the southeastern sky, the streets smell of swamp and idling hibachi. This morning the batting of clouds so thick between myself and the Sun I can stand in the street and consider its magnificence without walking away blind.

It is a lovely and munificent presence over the east hill that even so obscured affords us a day to wake in. I cut blackberry bramble away from last years stove wood, I set aside the piece I find is home to a large brown spider and her cocoon of eggs. I make oven fries and apple honey bundt cake. Zuzu sends me a peace and love pecan from her very own tree. Soup and bread tonight, knitting through a movie and into clean sheets for tomorrow, the eve of our new year, of our first winters day. 

Weve all been a little sick and instead of sniffing the air for another walking adventure Im grateful to have the close comfort of my shabby little hobbit hole, and take my place before the fire to rest and ruminate and read, watch the day pass from its birth over East Hill to its decline behind the thinning rim of the western edge of Cloud Valley, which is where you should be, by your own hearth and home, safe and contented, those intense gentle eyes smiling. However soon it wont be soon enough for all of us.
its the birthday of John Adams who said,

"Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide."

28 October 2010

gamboling through my head for many days now.


27 October 2010

Letters from the Outside, #25

Plantagenet Cherokee. The sick persists, but weakly. Walking and singing help a lot. Dance Party For One in the parlor, raising that snake. A difficult morning so I water the plants and wash the dishes and stretch, I heed advice music bears along with its tide. Full Moon in Aries. Late October, buzzards and crows, a cold wind blowing harder. The cattle are on the far side of the creek, beneath the trees, out of the open. The kaleidoscope geometry of walnut leaves is scattered and gone, revealing capillaries and veins dormant, stark until buds come with a rush of blood from the Earth rising. In Avalon, a golden circle of milkweed, a monarch fairy ring. It is a thorough cold that affords the Sun no quarter. The hearth is a Great Friend, the simple pleasure of warmth in winter. Sitting in the light of a south window, Coltrane, coffee, knitting.

The thick fog mornings of autumn with sunlight saturating the precipitate tulle revealing a liminal landscape, the mystery of further, speeding past small pastures in long grids of bare trees I can imagine the atmosphere adhering to my skin, the deep sweet breathing in of that refreshed air, the wonder of walking into what was some pale dream chasm only a few steps before. A day of welcome winds and sun, allowing for the bodys natural expansiveness, children running across the lawn as easy as fish through clean water. I construct as less than inspired lasagna and we all retire early after the first of this years pumpkins are disemboweled and carved. The glowing squash out there in the raining dark, keeping vigil for spirits beginning to rise, me under the duvet with a warm mug of milk and my books and a night of deep and quiet sleep and the cool wet morning the miracle of another day the long list of things to do that im grateful to be doing.

Paying bills leaves me rattled. Donovans Sunshine Superman too cheerful, I leave it to Randy Newmans Louisiana 1927, his honest, simple sound and the saturation of the daily details, the waking world companion to Knopfler, and then a little post modern raga to loosen the roots of my shoulders, the mist stretches into air the morning light round and wide allowing each color to be itself, wholly. The hills have gone to mostly mustard and rust and the bright brown leather of oak leaves.
The farm people have traded the old wild rose bush for a larger parking lot. The whole place seems violated, churned, disturbed the air leaves me in a sudden punch like coming up on a clear cut. The barns are haunted with neglect, the horror sinking into my heart like a piano, the umbilical dream suddenly severed and I find myself ennumerating its faults.
Worms and frogs wet blurs and bones in the road. Saturated magnetic sky blue amplitude rising into an invisible white you can only imagine in its reflection off the deep current of the creek between the trees. I am crouching over a culvert listening to water and rocks and I notice the red rabbits fern, the rose pink bells of germander. Gunshots, herald of november. Crows replace geese in the fen, the air is fine, almost as fine as by the ocean. Chestnut leaves rustle last rites contented and choose a few for my friend who no longer lives where this kind of thing happens.

Walking back past the place I cast my eyes down meditating on cracks in the asphalt between clods of earth like battle scattered entrails. In sun like this I gladly strip to skin save the animal bits forbidden and concealed the mystery of our origins we swaddle in myth and shroud in party-line hypotheses like their combustible engines drown the birdsong and the wind. The paschal lamb replaced by a faded stake and some surveyors tape to warn descending drivers of the peril of empty space.
Mumford and Sons. Water the plants, wash the floor, bake something. Walk outdoors and have it not be cold. Try to fill the space between my bones with light, recitation of the Heart Sutra. Breathing the breath of everything before me. They call me to take T. home sick from school, I run down the road to Sister Mothers and borrow the van. The bill collector might have me by the balls, but he wont ever get my heart.

for everyone, again.

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat

You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope

And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

Cause I have other things to fill my time

You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears

I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope

And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

So come out of your cave walking on your hands

And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's hand

So make your siren's call

And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Cause I need freedom now

And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

And I will hold on hope

And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again
its the birthday of Sylvia Plath, and Dylan Thomas who wrote...

Love in the Asylum

 A stranger has come
To share my room in the house not right in the head,
                    A girl mad as birds

Bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume.
                    Strait in the mazed bed
She deludes the heaven-proof house with entering clouds

Yet she deludes with walking the nightmarish room,
                    At large as the dead,
Or rides the imagined oceans of the male wards.

                    She has come possessed
Who admits the delusive light through the bouncing wall,
                    Possessed by the skies

She sleeps in the narrow trough yet she walks the dust
                    Yet raves at her will
On the madhouse boards worn thin by my walking tears.

And taken by light in her arms at long and dear last
                    I may without fail
Suffer the first vision that set fire to the stars.

24 October 2010

its the birthday of Alexandra David-Neel.

"Gods are thus created by the energy given out by the faith in their existence."

22 October 2010

For Friday, Full Moon in Aries.

Blessed Be.

21 October 2010

Letters from the Outside, #24

It is cold and damp and excellent. A steady gentle rain falls on the dogs and me while south along the valley wall everything is glorious, illuminated. The rain thickens and I am grinning, my face, my heart wide open receiving this weather I can breathe in. my blood responds to this extremity, the dim, hypersaturated environment that is able to communicate fluently with my genetic language. I saw a photo of snow and experienced the sweetest sense of anticipation and longing. But the sate of snow brings the craving of springtime. This Mystery School of the Seasons.

I dont talk much to folk who dont also live under this roof. Im insular and poorly digested by the crowd. But in the last few days ive had the most remarkable things communicated to me by fellow humans. Fleeting, freighted exchanges. Like the gods speaking through flesh, an interception of chitchat by Vox Omnium. The words “Spirit Guides,” and “Sanctify.” Back to the Black Jaguar, my wild fourth year dreams, spinning spider mothers, spiral stairways leading down forever, a cemetery on every stone my name. Six sisters bearing me along in the light in a brass bed.  Fathers car rolling over my mummified form in the driveway, that same car going over the cliffside and all of us in it. And the dream of the Black Jaguar. Walking the wooded path above me the Black Jaguar in the canopy, I have no fear, but a sense of belonging and security. Neither of which I have enjoyed much in this waking world. Moments, that afternoon on Cherry Hill with Cowboy shines like a lighthouse. But soon after these dreams something broke, could no longer bear. And I live life in exile since then. I want to reclaim the country of my soul for the aboriginals born of that soil. And theres a honed urgency new to the decades long grope in treacherous darkness.

I am open. I am listening. I have babbled white noise to keep out the sound. Written on the blackboard in the kitchen, “Silence Listening Memory Practice.” and this casual reference to Spirit Guides, specifically Spirit Guides assisting me through this life, this travail. And the casual reference to “witching water,” to Sanctify the branch that came off in my hand. My year of The Star, an enormous amount of work, of Energy. Struggling something like birth from out of some wormhole my structure uncompressing and shining and again ill be able to see. For lo, the Whole is Beautiful, and every part thereof. Our inability to experience the beauty and wholeness does not discount its Being. Just clouds before the Sun.

Full Moon tomorrow night, my wishing lantern caught in the tips of a willow tree burning like a japanese moon the night of the revel and this morning gone, not even bones left on a prairie platform, the entire architecture dissipated into Bliss. Nasturtium, Calendula in all her mighty variations, Cleome, all out there being, shining, mothering slender seedstock for vernal rebirth. The equatorial Tithonia faded weeks ago. The Tithonia are way taller than you are and almost as wide with wall sconce stems terminating with a flourish into Fairy crowns of true orange, a yellow coronet.
Intense electricities thrumming underground. This consistent ache under the breastbone, this persistent tug at the quicksilver cord that connects me to some brooding fractious guru with ironclad commandments im only now beginning to learn. A wave of spit and dizzy and im on my feet again. Blue bead, red thread. Walnut stang goes to Sanctify, to the man who speaks through trees. This is the year I wrestle myself from the conscription of Angst. The little girl I craved and gave away is revealed to be myself, me.

On Easthill the bowls and inlays, the gardens and orchards and vineyards and the young bucks fluster me from a Friends company, but the branch is there, the antlered outline the womb-eye not kindling tie a ribbon round it to remember two true chestnuts from a cardboard box osage and walnut and madrone, a root that drinks from a different ocean I wonder what my wood would be, a blank rune is what im after but from which tree?
The deep comfort of beginning dinner, the initial aromatics and then everything after, cornbread baked in a castiron skillet, chili con carne a jalapeno simmered whole in the midst of it im still eating peacevines out there, an eggplant to pick, I could even get a little jar of flowers, and soon ill spend some sunshine carving pumpkins, a spirit trail into the heart of the fire. As below, so above. 

20 October 2010

What is this, behind this veil, is it ugly, is it beautiful?
It is shimmering, has it breasts, has it edges?

I am sure it is unique, I am sure it is what I want.
When I am quiet at my cooking I feel it looking, I feel it thinking

'Is this the one I am too appear for,
Is this the elect one, the one with black eye-pits and a scar?

Measuring the flour, cutting off the surplus,
Adhering to rules, to rules, to rules.

Is this the one for the annunciation?
My god, what a laugh!'

But it shimmers, it does not stop, and I think it wants me.
I would not mind if it were bones, or a pearl button.

I do not want much of a present, anyway, this year.
After all I am alive only by accident.

I would have killed myself gladly that time any possible way.
Now there are these veils, shimmering like curtains,

The diaphanous satins of a January window
White as babies' bedding and glittering with dead breath. O ivory!

It must be a tusk there, a ghost column.
Can you not see I do not mind what it is.

Can you not give it to me?
Do not be ashamed--I do not mind if it is small.

Do not be mean, I am ready for enormity.
Let us sit down to it, one on either side, admiring the gleam,

The glaze, the mirrory variety of it.
Let us eat our last supper at it, like a hospital plate.

I know why you will not give it to me,
You are terrified

The world will go up in a shriek, and your head with it,
Bossed, brazen, an antique shield,

A marvel to your great-grandchildren.
Do not be afraid, it is not so.

I will only take it and go aside quietly.
You will not even hear me opening it, no paper crackle,

No falling ribbons, no scream at the end.
I do not think you credit me with this discretion.

If you only knew how the veils were killing my days.
To you they are only transparencies, clear air.

But my god, the clouds are like cotton.
Armies of them. They are carbon monoxide.

Sweetly, sweetly I breathe in,
Filling my veins with invisibles, with the million

Probable motes that tick the years off my life.
You are silver-suited for the occasion. O adding machine-----

Is it impossible for you to let something go and have it go whole?
Must you stamp each piece purple,

Must you kill what you can?
There is one thing I want today, and only you can give it to me.

It stands at my window, big as the sky.
It breathes from my sheets, the cold dead center

Where split lives congeal and stiffen to history.
Let it not come by the mail, finger by finger.

Let it not come by word of mouth, I should be sixty
By the time the whole of it was delivered, and to numb to use it.

Only let down the veil, the veil, the veil.
If it were death

I would admire the deep gravity of it, its timeless eyes.
I would know you were serious.

There would be a nobility then, there would be a birthday.
And the knife not carve, but enter

Pure and clean as the cry of a baby,
And the universe slide from my side.
- Sylvia Plath 

18 October 2010

my apologies to one F. Nietzsche for forgetting his birthday on friday.

"I would believe only in a god who could dance."
the official themesong of my coming trip around the sun.

15 October 2010

revelers, welcome.

13 October 2010

Letters from the Outside, #23

Eggplant tomato onion the last of summer curry and I go out to feed the rut with stones as an excuse to be out in the blue cool with the sound of creekwater running. Dark moon in libra. T. and I walk the neighborhood, the sky distant and clear, full of stars the streetlights allow us to see. That October night smell is coming up, cold crystalline clouds and dry leaves disintegrating. Something inspires me to take out my nikon, the kind that uses film. I love that camera, and have not been using it much since I got the digital. When you walk in the backyard the leaves release dry reels of recorded sound theyve soaked up over the summer. A late squashblossom reticule reveals one green egg covered in prickling fuzz and striped as a fawn. Clear, hot day. Tall grass shifts in sibillance, the dogs scattering cabbage moths drinking from the outer edges of the deep culvert springs, frogs leaping in panicked abandon from the top ropes of their sunbank vantages and dragonflies hunt and spar above the spangled midgeclouds where the woods begin. Taking pictures of wild grapvine twining off a maple tree a branch comes off in my hand, an antlered stang.
I remember the dancing line of dry grapevine along the farm road, the smell of feedcorn in the silo.

Cold days, leaves falling in earnest. Nick Drakes Northern Sky. I make monkey bread and doctors appointments. This is my life. My one, small, pixie-lit, hard to keep clean life that I try to make lovely, and comfortable and just big enough for a few folks more. The boys are so good, so gentle with me, its hard to believe I did something so right. They are always patient and reasonable and kind. I think that children are not our possessions. They are our gift to the world. I should learn to call up their faces into my heart every time I want to buy another round of “Youre Pointless and Toxic and Bad.”
On the walks, low angled light reflects off standing water at the edge of the brushlot. In the wind we walk into the black dogs ears flap like sails while the blue dogs fold back like falconwings. Moon high black buzzard and scarlet creeper hanging back-lit and miraculous from the locust bean tree. Wind rushing through the golden wood with the strength and presence of an ancient incantation. In the yard, jays feed from seedhead banquets lining the garden overrun with pigweed and bitegrass, the flowers limp and receding after that first frost I saw on a recent nightwalk passing your front yard, the low level right before the road was patched in a billion thin crystals that reflected the somewhere sunlight reflecting against the silent face of the moon. First frost and flowers fade and the night fires we sit a little closer to, that seem to burn a little brighter. My cooking is a comedy of errors but alls well that ends well, chicken pot pie and monkey bread and the house is full of my people, well fed.

Sun through a thin blue sky, blinding blur between the branches of the spruce that leans. Sound of the creek running. Deep turquoise jays and redheaded woodpeckers gorge themselves on mongolian sunflowers, tarahumara. It is only just cool. The low trees are golden. The valley is golden. I watch the cattledog choreograph ever more intricate maneuvers in her play with the big black. October is a righteous month for me. The one that mirrors an interior landscape. The oranges and browns the bare branches against a blue sky the smell of woodsmoke. The woods all whispers and beckoning, the pull of the road to wander. Acorns and chestnuts and coffee in the afternoon with the leaves falling and the dogs playing and im out in the comfort of sunlight knitting up a little whatnot, listening. Listening to the shift of the Earth on her axis, turning the wheel toward winter.
On todays walk there werent any words to write, kept my hand on the camera, communed with the blossoming witch hazel that will keep her wild yellow flowers well into springtime, looked high up onto the mountain with a fierce longing to ramble there on the side of the sign that doesnt say anything, stood on the edge of everything with my eyes closed just bringing the moment into me, the wind and the woodsmoke and the unseasonable heat that flies like time into novembers cold and barren arms.

 We should be catching each others eye over the facecords that needs stacking, raise our hands in a gesture of peaceful recognition, go back to our homes, have supper with people who love us, and sleep in the arms of our sweethearts until the morning brings its promise and its obligations we are willing to fulfill. One day this will be, and we will understand the simple significance, and be glad.

"And if the question were asked: What is more real, the mundane or the sublime? most would hesitate before they gave an answer. On the one side, details: say, the aftermath of a breakfast, dirty chipped plates in the sink, their rims encrusted with egg yolk. Against this, the unnameable: small aching heart with boasts, what can you know? Outside the cage of everything we ever heard or saw, beyond, outside, above, there lies the real, hiding as long as we shall live, there stretch and trail the millions of names of God burning across the eons. When all through this our end will come before we even know the names of us.

For many the egg yolk prevails." -L.M.

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

"The perfection of the Absolute where all Becoming stops and pure Being, immutable, timeless, unchanging, hangs forever like a ripe peach upon the bough." -E.A.

"...and the whole incident was incredibly frazzling and angst-rod and filled almost a whole mead notebook and is here recounted in only its barest psycho-skeletal outline." -D.F.W.

"At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards." -H.S.T.

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." -D.T.
"Cometh a voice: My children, hear; From the crowded street and the close-packed mart I call you back with my message clear, back to my lap and my loving heart. Long have ye left me, journeying on by range and river and grassy plain, to the teeming towns where the rest have gone - come back, come back to my arms again. So shall ye lose the foolish needs that gnaw your souls; and my touch shall serve to heal the fretted nerve. Treading the turf that ye once loved well, instead of the stones of the city's street, ye shall hear nor din nor drunken yell, but the wind that croons in the ripening wheat. I that am old have seen long since ruin of palaces made with hands for the soldier-king and the priest and prince whose cities crumble in desert sands. But still the furrow in many a clime yields softly under the ploughman's feet; still there is seeding and harvest time, and the wind still croons in the ripening wheat. The works of man are but little worth; for a time they stand, for a space endure; but turn once more to your mother - Earth, my gifts are gracious, my works are sure. Instead of the strife and pain I give you peace, with its blessing sweet. Come back, come back to my arms again, for the wind still croons in the ripening wheat."
-John Sandes, The Earth-Mother (excerpt, 1918)