Friday, June 17, 2005


First, the book is on the shelf. No gesture--only posture. But a whisper.

Then the book is on the night stand. It lulls you to sleep--waits for you t'il morning.

Then it's under the pillow.

Then it is the pillow. Deforming the skull. Following you in the dark.

Under the skin. Into the blood. An invited parasite. Whether incrementally or in a crash, a good book takes us. And if we are the same when its over, then something has failed.

But the words--static and immortal--can they fail?

Saturday, June 11, 2005


There is so much more to tell.
"Of all these weird creatures who lock up their spirits, drill holes in themselves, and live for their secrets." (York) We all have something we haven't told. Something--I hope--we cannot tell. Something never to be gotten over, that eats at us and eats--even as it defines us in ways that exclude dull eyes. Forget the simple ugliness of dishonesty or ill deeds. Just secrets. Not a bad thing. Or good. It just is, and must be.

How beautiful to live a life with nothing to hide. How meaningful to hide something to preserve its instrinsic beauty.

The beliefs of my parents became beautiful because they said I could only really know for myself. I could not take their word for it. It was a nebulous process. They could hand me the mere facts,(and facts are always mere) but the meaning had to come from me--and it only came by me living the answers. Only when the universe began seeping from my pores could I know.
There are truths that lose their potency in the telling. So poetics struggles to pixilate the ennunciating mouth. "Tell it slant." (Emily again). To explain literally means to flatten out. And truth, like Time, exists in spheres, not straight lines. Even Mary Poppins knew where her power came from: "First I'd like to make one thing quite clear. I never explain anything."

Even so, we crave revelation. And we live to reveal. We treasure that moment when somebody knows us. We heave sighs of relief when at last the big secret is out. We rejoice when the sacred truth is deciphered by some elegant mind. The pressure is let off--but the pressure was because we underestimated our size to contain. We waste time on our knees begging God to tell us everything. "But the answers," (Rilke now) "cannot be given you because you could not LIVE them. And the point is to LIVE EVERYTHING." So we must love the questions, and live along "some distant day" to the answer.

And living is not necessarily telling. It might be the opposite of telling. Explicit as Illicit. Should there be an Interstate to the depths? Should what you see be what you get? Then why is such an abundant percentage of the Universe dedicated to inexplicable dark matter?
It might be the only real irony. We need to tell. We have to know. But knowing and telling are for trudging. Only the wonder and the searching give us the delicate poignancy, the keen edge that cuts enough for us to know we're living. These poles of opposition give us poetry--and anything else worthwhile. We might seek God. But only when we make the search our God do we find.

And this is why written words exceed speech. Only on the page are we really free, because the words remain after our breath is extinguished--living on to explain and not explain and change and not change for every mind that happens.
We are stifled by daily speech--choking on sophistries and empty, inelegant pap--wondering sometimes why the mouth should want to open.
There is magic--eternal magic--in words well chosen. Magic whose residue of waste can be tasted in those poorly chosen. Potential beauty caught between the teeth has a toxic effect, as it inevitably decays over a long nuclear half life. The fumes of it taint and sully the soul.
Yet unfulfilled potential has a certain beauty in itself. It breathes a certain sort of jaded, innocent perfection--but only until touched.
"Touch it, and the bloom is gone" (Wilde). Touch it in a way that burns it into foul exhaust, and who can help but be sick?

So only Silence leaves words yearning forever in perfect, unrealized beauty. The page structures them cleanly--preserves a portion of that perfection as it "creates little silences around things" (Mallarme).

We'll all keep telling--and needing to be told. And from this need much, if not all that is good in this life will flow. A trail of breadcrumbs. Smoke rising from an unseen fire beyond the trees. The echo of our secrets as they ricochet off the wailing wall.

But "who tells a better tale than any of us?" (Dinesen)

"Silence does."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

end. (folk alternate)

I swallowed the sea. The waves keep pounding. The tide keeps surging. But I can't help thinking innocent people are going to die. I thought I saw a need. I wanted to be useful. (That was the end). But wanting makes slaves of fishermen. Maybe if I can stop wanting--no one will die.
So I claim this beach as mine. They're already out there--collecting curiosities, kicking fish, ransacking shipwrecks. Taking in the beauty of it all. So this is the part where I just sit here.
And that's it. That's the end of it. This is the part where I just sit here my mouth closed. Forever.
The waves and the tides roll. There's so much more to tell. So much more. But what if I can't kill? So this is it.
But there's so much more to tell.


Retract. Unwrite. To begin is so violent. But finishing is worse. Don't we all want to simply ease into the continuum--like a wedding ring(or so he said when he pronounced us--I remember because I wasn't sleep deprived then) "No beginning, and no end." That's the ideal: we catch it in the middle of something and break away arbitrarily at the appropriate denoument, knowing full well it goes on--like us. Like those magician's rings: spinning or floating, touching, even linking for a time, and seemlessly independent again.

A friend told me the body type I like is "boyish." I had to consider for a second before the hips and breasts started singing. Loud and clear in a harmony of curves that wakes up my own singing parts. That's where it all comes together. Circles again. Smooth and firm. Circling and touching--overlapping--linking. Only then does the penetration (into the PLOT, or THEME, or SCENARIO, or POEM even, if that makes it easier to say) become beautiful enough to mean anything.


Tasteless Colorless It creeps in like radon gas And settles into cracks and says You're not the first Eyelids heavy with bleak unfiltered mist Spine chokes like a smokestack thinking You won't be the last Drive the point home Keep driving I'm still breathing I'm still Listless Useless I'm still here Drive the point home I'm still here Drive the point home I'm still driving I'm still breathing I'm still here I'm still

The Apricot Tree

Spring used to come in the rush of a day. Now it creeps up on me.

The apricot tree drops most of its bounty to the ground before we can harvest. Those that find the grass are doomed to rot. But the rescued few are sweeter than candy to my only son and I. We vow to be more vigiliant with the peaches, and enjoy a few cobblers. And peaches every day after school. Still, the bounty is always too great, and even as we cumber friends and neighbors with bags of fruit, the majority seek and find the ground--feeding the insect population as we all will.

Our yard is small, but gives more than twice itself in flowers and fruit.

Always the question of Time availing. And always alone alone alone. So much work just to maintain--then only to fall into some template of life that feels like a hug from someone you barely know, who holds on too tightly and too long. Keeping the blood fresh and flowing. Wounded without the pleasure of a scar.

With both wife and child in school, the house is to myself. I fill it with music and thoughts of how to avoid dreaming. But only after the busy work. My mind sharpens to the bittersweetness of the great Whatever--enlivened by the salt in the tears and the sugar in the harvest.
Soon enough the static from the TV could be waves of storm. Swallow everything whole and drown into bed. Kneeling before sleep to thank God for the sweetness of the fruit and the glory of the tree. For the abject joy of being needed by invalids and children. The roof, however humble. The books on my shelves. A delicious new shirt. The astonishing Truth.

There is so much to inspire thanks. Above all--on this latest night of nights--the tender thoughts of friends, falling like apricots.