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

27 June 2011

its the (celebrated) birthday of Frank O'Hara.  He was born three months earlier but his parents gave him this birthday so he wouldn't know he was conceived out of wedlock.


Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it's no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn't need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn't want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days

26 June 2011

Letters from the Outside, #46

Turkeys and deer at the side of the road, mostly toms and does. The turkeys strut to cover, but the does go tharn, their heads turned away from browse until The Thing passes. Dogs wrestling in my Delphiniums, which of course grieved me but it passed like lightning and theres still some left to spire and bloom indigo-violet among the Coneflower and Calendula. Allergy shots leave the inflamed evidence of a three-pound mosquito. There are times when Steve Earle singing, “Don't You Take It Too Bad” is the perfect thing.

Catalpa trees blooming, and the vetch, and the bullfrogs in Avalon commence the recitation of their sutras. The Wheel of Ezekiel. Friday afternoon John Coltrane eating garden strawberries over the sink, brownies baking. The hoya flowers weep their one clear resinous pendant tear and I find several caches of Cleome reseedlings, which is awesome. Co-chaired a nine ten-year-old-boy birthday party camp-out, sleeping under the sky, late waning moonrise light of dusk at an upper elevation. Parliament of bullfrogs, lightning bugs in the thin winsome wood which stood around us. I oared lemniscates onto the surface of the little pond spangled with water lilies, indian rubber hose stems feeding their mythic, transcendent, flowers that open with morning. My small steady ripple sliding and stippling the mirror image of trees into soothing hypnotic quantum-impressionist scenes; that, and the perfect vermillion square of sunset that shone through the wood and I walked to that silent light-sanctified portal and I was grateful, and I prayed.

In goes the last of the seedlings, the parsley and lettuce, the crucifers. The neighbors cut down the old Weeping Willow, that lovely undulating shade against the streetlight I was always so grateful for. Sister Mothers man sixty feet up in a cherry picker with a polesaw trying not to get whomped. And then theres the live tri-wire and so much of the tree left above him. Bergamot in its gestating won-ton phase, Stargazer space capsule buds lengthen and deepen their seams. The intricately architectured Rudbeckia and Coneflower crowns now beginning to raise their butterfly feeding stations. The first full day of Summer is rainy and grey, a good day for the garden to settle in, a cool and gentle rest. I read a Brian Greene book in the hammock, working all the time at making peace with myself, breathing mindfully, maintaining my vigil flame of optimism. The book is dense, and utilizes a great deal of my left brain, which isnt the more vigorous sibling. So i bake a banana bread, go out in my gumboots to take pictures of flowers. 
These theories and calculations are based on the tiniest parts of Our Conceivable Everything, and apply universally to everything within the Everything. The beautiful pull of these ideas is their ability to inspire acceptance of  myself logically as part of this Everything...“A child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars..,” all that. It approaches my illusory issue of alienation from an entirely different perspective, a neutral, left-brain argument for Belonging.

Series of cool, cloudy days, intermittent rain, giving the Growing in the garden a golden opportunity to wriggle its roots into the ground without the taxing toll of a typical late june sun. But all things thrive in Balance, and a stretch of hot bright weather would do All the Living some good.

I understand now how it truly takes years to establish a perennial bed. I see only now how the components come together over time, spreading in dense strokes, disseminating, perennials evolving with sagacious patience into themselves, returning after the long rests ever more alive. There are patches, to be expected from a laissez-faire amateur, but I see how in those empty places the humble beginning of another grand display. Last year I hardly bought any new plants at all, and this year, none. I am tempted to look for another Monkshood as the way its grown along with the Globeflower inspires aesthetic intervention. Perenial stewarding is commonly compared to painting, and I see that now. The (potentially)6' Astilbe I bought three years ago has only reached about half that, but this is the first year theres even a breath of its frothy drooping pink paisley blooms. I realize also that I cannot let the Lemon Balm or the Wild Violet have its way with the north bed, as then there would be nothing more; even the hostas are suffering under their imperialism.

And then theres the northside nursery nemeton; how marvelous it is to watch the king whip, crown to crown with me, sprout a succession of new leaf clusters over the summer, lower boughs sporting their young-adult leaves, and were I to live to be one hundred, I would admire the first clusters of acorns, now ready to insure a futher eternity of Oak in, despite man, a miraculous and beautiful world. We Miss You.

16 June 2011

 Letters from the Outside #45

Daisies in the tall grass on the roadside the black dog trots through, emerging spangled with phosphorescent pollen and seedheads,a synecdoche of the night sky. The first days of june bring red clover, black locust blossoms and wild roses. The mornings are cool, and afternoon usually burns off the chill. Locust blossoms scented swansong shrivelling and the foxgrapes only foam along the vine. A genuine june day, insistent eye of the Sun beckoning everything up towards the Everything, I dig comfrey, pull the feeble seeded froth of spent forget-me-nots, everything should be in the ground by now. Iris in the garden unfurls, aubergine chrysalis surrendering into deep heliotrope lesson in transformation, fleur-de-lis, and the lotus of peonies, pure pink petalbowl for the golden consumation. The air is ornamented with honeybees.

The lp tank killed the Buddeleia. Everything else I planted is still alive. I pick rocks, arrange them in towers of balance and Gravity, shape and Time. I make rolls. The roses at the end of your driveway smell so sweet; I always check to see if the communing cup is otherwise occupied before I bring the heady scent into me. June is the smell of wild roses, earth in the cracks of your hands, and long-lived light. The first fireflies tonight in the tall grass along the garden, the sonic arcing of bats through the waxing to half moonlight. T. noodles on the old Hoener in the dark kitchen to “It Hurts Me Too” (Live in London '72).

Tuesday cold and drizzling, but the tomatoes are in and the strawberries come fast in garnet tides. Tomorrow I may be able to get in a lot more of the seedlings, starting to stunt and strangle in their starters of re-purposed tofu and produce packaging. Cowboy and I plan to espalier the tomato plants for optimum light and air, and to offset the probably too-close setting-out. The green sweater goes on again, and I shut some of the windows. The rain helps me to focus on indoor chores, the houseplants and the dishes and the floors. I attended my first sweat lodge on saturday and it was a liberating epiphany. The humid womb was a thoroughly unexpected and familiar comfort and, as in the beginning, you emerged from the dense darkness into a dazzling, miraculous world. Air and light and the woods that surrounded us, each environment its own magickal sanctuary. I look very much forward to going again, and again.

Wednesday is bright and beautiful, I plant out the rest of the tomatoes, a patch of parsley, and relocate more sunflowers before they too are tilled under in the gradual reclamation of the garden from a vacuum-abhorring Nature. I realize how barometrically affected I am. Like a sheep, when the low pressure moves in, I have to fight the urge, however feebly, to just lay down in the field until the light returns. I apologize, again, for the long pause between letters. Ive just been a little blank;  a sense of suspension, like the stillness before the wave breaks, that breathless pause before the coaster succumbs to the earths pull. The Solstice is coming, and I wonder if its worth it at all to plant corn or beans this year. Wait until july to plant beets and greens, and be satisfied.

Hard to express the sweet peace of dusk in the garden watching bats and lightning bugs emerge from their days seclusion, the Great Satellite, tonight smudged and blood-colored, rising over the fringed edge of East Hill, full in Sagittarius, despite the fact that by the time night comes to us the eclipse is long over and what we see is our waters god already in wane, and a bit after midnight it passes into the house of Capricorn, where things contract inside a formidable boundary when just before there was the sense of expansion that always provokes (in me) random emails to neutral and long past acquaintance, and the urge to talk to someone on the phone. Which, in my case, is passing rare.

 I decide to go ahead and plant a few rows of corn and beans. The brussels sprouts and cabbage go in, the lettuce, and undoubtedly whatever else strikes my fancy at the moment, sitting there in the fresh-turned earth (thanks to Cowboy who dutifully wrestles with the bucking, belching tiller to cut a new swath of arable land each evening after work) flipping through the card catalog of seed packets. My french melons have flowers. More strawberries need harvesting, and i watch with a hungry heart the progression of blackberries from bloodless stones to fruit that bleeds on your fingers, bursts on your tongue.

I do believe the sweat lodge helped me let go if even just a little to the cinderblocks I drag around behind me, inside me. I dont feel as heavy, as hateful, as haunted. I have been staring into the rear-view, and now its time to live with my eyes on the road and my hands on the wheel. Past and future might as well be fairy tales. I have now to take the breath, plant the bean seed. And working in conjuction with the world through which I wander, all things that are mine will come to me as day comes after evening, and the Sun draws water up through the air so that it may re-member itself and return to earth again and again to be water. We Love You.

14 June 2011

its the birthday of Che.

“Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”

04 June 2011

for Zuzu.

"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)