Winter comes at night,
Through the haze of twilight,
When we’re the least aware,
All as the warm light makes room
In a cold swoon
Of the other world’s encore. Read the rest of this entry »
Winter comes at night,
Time washes clean the past’s beachhead.
Out to sea goes its gathered forces,
leaving conches echoing the moment of chaos
and clams murmuring to themselves.
Focus on now, feel the past
and future drift into blurred edges.
Only now exists, feel the present
crowd the horizon and tower above the sand.
Every moment in and out.
Every thought gliding away,
till there is nothing but time
to accompany eternity, a tick and a tock.
Time passes as we listen to the clock,
chimed seconds outside our breath,
pin pick moments on the way out
remembered only as moments that were marked.
Till there is nothing in us but passing time,
till we’re just flashes in the cosmos,
till we’re just shadows on the universe’s complexion,
unseeing eyes blinking silently.
Or we can live for our own the future,
be in the imperfect and temporary frenzy of expectation,
live in the ecstatic and near sighted sanctity of hope,
fall asleep with the force of tomorrow pulling us forward.
Jim feared the dawn. He would stay up all night, walking through the streets, feeling the cool air touch him like a glove fitting a damp hand and hold him in a soft embrace. He came to the night and it covered him like a silent lover.
When the light hit, the grass in the park would be covered with ants and children chasing balls, birds hopping from branch to branch, words jarring the air into a quiver while tongues ran through the dance of Shiva. The world was on fire and he would have the blackout curtains drawn watching the clock’s hands move, ticking one moment to the next like quarks popping. Finally he would open his eyes and see the moonlight like a siren beckoning him to the empty streets.
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Dawn returns the sun to us,
letting Apollo stride through the sky,
letting birds sing and roses open.
It focuses our eyes into the distance
where purple lights up the clouds,
pulls our feet into meadows
where tall grasses sway in the wind.
It removes the haze from the valleys
and the dark film between us
and the glistening eyes across the field,
dropping into laps the realization
that everyone exists within and without us.
It brings out the blue in the sky
from the lingering nothingness,
showing clouds dance between
currents of air,
showing the world for a moment
as it was on day one.
It puts the stars to sleep.
Creased paper, the fine line between matte white and cherry wood, the smell of ink settling inches high, the moment I see a word I don’t know, my own handwriting turning a phrase I don’t recognize, the ringing in my ears between breaths, trees sprouting leaves, an arm underneath me that I can’t place, an old song slipping into the soul’s vinyl grooves, the door slowly opening and closing, dreamscapes and moonscapes, the sound of tires slipping, sound travelling in a vacuum goes faster, lapses in judgment after listening carefully, rain splashing up, going to sleep in the morning, memories I feel but don’t remember, counting the seconds until an egg is done.
“There are no Zen teachers.” I heard this quoted from a traditional story at a dharma talk at the Green Gulch Zen Meditation Center a few sundays ago.
The speaker heard this when he was young, and took it as meaning zen can’t be directly transmitted from the teacher to student in some sort of metaphysical transaction, everyone must discover zen for themselves. In his life story it led to him not seeking guidance from people who he acknowledged were masters, and later on feeling like a hypocrite when he himself became a teacher. In end though, he decided teachers did have a place in offering guidance, even if they lacked super powers. Read the rest of this entry »
The rare frost covers the ground like powdered sugar, tempting me to go outside and try some, lick it and love it, fold it between my cavities and tongue, let it smother what’s there now. I want to feel its icy pin pricks, the dimming forgetfulness the cold brings, the insistence that it always was and that it’ll never go back to a dry warmth. The chill will soothe my soul like a lid on a flaming pan smothering a dancing fire and gently return me to a balance from a boiling passion towards a flat sea of consciousness. The frost means all of this as I look back from the fogged window at you in bed, your eyes closed and breath steady.
I remember the beginning: the day we traversed the city from North Beach to the Mission, ducking behind stairways giggling, looking up at the afternoon sky and running between bewildered couples on their way to taquerias, all while hiding from the shadows of pterodactyls. By the time we reached Dolores Park we were sober and staring at each other.
On the grass I saw your dark eyes fill my vision and felt I was going to collapse in your arms, but your gaze held me still. By a simple touch, your smooth steady hands in mine, you held me up.
I said, “I’ve seen my future, and it’s you.”
You smiled, took my hand and placed it over your heart, and said, “I offer my heart if you will take it.”
You leaned forward and I felt your smooth cheek touching my stubble. Your perfume for the first time filled my mind, not flowers but an earthy undertone with sandalwood.
Yesterday morning I woke up alone with you not talking to me. I came to your apartment building at six in the morning and knelt on your doorstep, waiting for you to leave for the restaurant. You opened the door and without looking tripped over me. You cursed, got up to your knees and saw the dozen yellow roses I brought. You took your hand to my cheek, brought me close and we kissed. From the rush of blood to my head, I almost blacked out. You stood up and pulled me to my feet. The rest of the day was spent in bed.
Here we are the next morning, you asleep and me at the window. I move my lips into the forms of “I love you,” but I can’t vocalize. I look at you, a bare shoulder above the blanket, ankle revealed. This seems perfect, but I don’t feel at ease.
I came with the fervor of a believer to win you back, but I never asked why. I thought to be with you was my destiny, unquestionable, and I followed the path laid by the stars. I made it work, and now I wonder why. Why love you?
The day after Dolores Park, I sat in my office and wondered what had I gotten myself into, but that evening we met under the cupid’s arrow sculpture on the Embarcadero. I looked into your eyes and I felt like I was in a trance. This has always felt surreal. I sometime wonder, is this a fantasy realized or an imagined reality?
Now the words that had set in my mind like a sculpture in a die aren’t coming out as easily. Is something different? Have the words changed to me or is it the abandon I took in using them?
I’d like to think there would be a clear answer, or is this like asking why the sun rises or why the moon isn’t made of cheese? Is this facing down an unassailable fact, shaking my fist at it, and looking like a fool? I’d like to think I can understand, but can I break down the mystery of emotion and reassemble it into the logic of a proof that will tell me what’s going on?
A proof is clean, lines intersecting and going to infinity, a perfection of simplicity. Instead emotions are like a pod of jellyfish drifting in the current, an amorphous tangle, a perfection of confusion.
Discerning love seems like watching jellyfish from below, trying to form them into constellations and call the shape love, in order to see where an imagined cupid’s arrow is pointed. I want it to be exact, but the arrows path keeps shifting, then the jellyfish stop shining and I’m left in the cold, listening to my own heart.
How I love you, let me count the ways. I’m sure I could come up with a for and against list. Is this right love though? Is this the right way for us?
I look at you. Your lidded eyes are surrounded by a cloud of hair, your own ever present halo, and your skin glows in the sun like burnished wood. I want to know if you have these thoughts. I want to know so much about you. What I know covers the onion’s outer layers, but I can see a history of smiles and barely contained laughter laid out like in a glass apothecary chest. All those moments I can retrieve and relive any time and that gives me joy. I’m reminded of all the love I’ve professed and all the love I’ve inhaled like incense from you. That smell, deeply mysterious, touches the depths of my chest and resonates like sonorous bass, subsuming me. I feel a peace I don’t understand but can’t deny. Is this what defines the right love, a felt truth?
How do I know I love you? I do because I do?
When I dream I see ruined castles pounded by the surf. When I don’t dream I see light glowing behind a haze of blue.
When my eyes are closed, my thoughts race ad jumble like city traffic, crashing words and tumbling signs. The temporary cessation at stops end with my head flying back and seeing stars blinking. When my eyes are open, my churning interior clicks like an abacus.
White light and dark heat alternate my mind, and I follow the map of emotions drawn onto me, moving between green fields and turbulent, snarling dragons filling the voids As the world flips, I observe my eyes looking out at unfurling existence.
I’ll return and return again to someplace new. I’ll find myself watching stones fall from a turret into the surf.
The same themes returns throughout our lives. The tragedies from our youth are reworked into the befuddlement of advanced age. Nothing leaves us, only drops below the surface in the quiet moments, to rise in inopportune occasions to remind us that we haven’t left the scared child behind, only grayed his hair and drooped his shoulders.
In all we do, we try to advance beyond the confusion, to order the cosmos and atoms within ourselves and beyond, try to see the child in us morph into a moral general and citizen, but time marches in cycles; the verse is followed by the chorus is followed by the verse, and we see the stages of ourselves reappear in the mirror and in other people’s eyes.
The pyrotechnics of love and the observation of the dissolution of life occur to us repeatedly and their echoes live in us simultaneously. We never stop singing our soul’s song, only learn its variations and draw together the disparate passages.
This world is underwhelming and noisy, sacred and lonely, the poor stepchild of the gods. We watch as the noble pedigrees in the universe are recited, and we wonder where we fit in. If the blueprint of the universe fell into our laps, we couldn’t understand it. If we looked into the eyes of god, we wouldn’t see them. Our place in this world is in each other’s lives and hearts, in the concern and smiles within the lost moments that disappear behind the veil of time.
Where was she? The sun had just risen and the living room had a glow that if I was waking up I would find welcoming, instead it seemed weary and reluctant as if the light wasn’t ready to be seen. It had bided its time behind the horizon and let the hours rest until it was finally forced through the clouds, naked. Read the rest of this entry »