Sunday, April 30, 2017

Blue jeans and

In the waking part of my dream, I’m on my knees in old blue jeans, planting flowers. In the sleeping part, I crumble sweet-aromatic soil in my hand, and, like a wise old chocolatier of a man, hold it up to the nose of my friend, and say to him then, “This, tells us everything.”

Saturday, April 29, 2017

No one and everyone in particular

He’ll get a little bigger if you click on him.

Here’s an old friend, who is no one and everyone in particular, drawn with an ordinary school pencil I suppose around 2009 or 2010, or maybe a little earlier. I have no idea where the original is. Maybe I’ll find him in a stack somewhere, dozing in a closet. He’ll open his eyes and say, “You’ve changed. Oh, yes, decidedly.”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Great gray granite

Well, I just can’t help it. I love being so old that no one knows how young I am — except for you, of course — you’ve known all along, since long before either of us was born. I was a rock — a great gray granite slab. Do you remember? And you, you were an oak. We grew up together! Oh, yes, my friend, those were the days! And by those, I mean these. And by were, I mean are. And by days, I mean the eternity sparkling, dancing, flashing in your eyes, infinitely told. And that is only the beginning. Who knows what your next smile will bring?

Canvas 886

Canvas 886

April 27, 2017

Sunday’s Child

To be my mother’s lilac,
and for her to somehow know it

like its scent, a thought that
cannot last for long

From Poems, Slightly Used, May 4, 2009

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In passing

I was thinking about my daily walks, how they are short in physical distance, yet limitless, and how they are brief in duration, yet timeless until my return. When I am out, in other words, I am out forever. And when I am away, the scenery I pass through is here, and, in the same breath, everywhere. But what about the rest of the day? Well, it is much the same. An appointment at a certain time is simply that. I acknowledge the need and make sure I get there, but there is no urgency in the matter. If I’m helping by preparing a meal, I start the work soon enough that the food will be ready when it should be ready. But the work itself is beyond all that. I am not anxious for it to be done. I chop garlic and peel onions and potatoes not for an hour, but forever. And while I am so engaged, I am absorbed to the point that I scarcely exist, even as I am careful not to slice my finger. Now, granted, it’s a little difficult, or clumsy, to express such things. What I am suggesting, perhaps, is that in life there is something we might call a soul’s pace or spirit’s pace, and the more we are aware of it the better we understand that happiness isn’t a matter of effort, it’s a matter of being present. And we can’t be present if we are caught up in the constant judgment and evaluation of ourselves, of others, and our surroundings, all measured against our notions of what “should be.” In any given moment, there is simply no better place to be than exactly where we are, just as there is no better work than the present task, done with love. It is the very peace we yearn for, and so much more, without the chains we forged, and proudly wore.

Canvas 885

Canvas 885

April 26, 2017

Canvas 884

Canvas 884

April 26, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dreamy gray and blue

After yesterday’s downpour, I suppose it’s only natural I would dream about water — first in the form of a creek, then a river, and finally an ocean. But the ocean was narrow, the width of a river. I could see people on the opposite shore, which was where I had been earlier, and where I needed to return. A man driving a strange rusted vehicle plowed into the water, and of course he didn’t sink, even though he should have. I was about to begin my swim when I realized the tide had suddenly gone out, and so I simply walked across, and there was my father, rather unimpressed by it all. What did he say? I don’t remember. Despite the narrow ocean, despite the low tide that had erased it, despite the nearly twenty-two years that have passed since his death, he said something very ordinary. It was good to see him. The creek had surged. I’d been walking upstream on its rocky bottom when the eternal floodgates had opened. This forced me to scramble up the steep bank with the help of roots and branches. At the top there was a gap in the growth, which I recognized as the place I’d first come in. But soon there was so much water that the high ground was also inundated, and I waded to even higher ground. Then I reached a little gate, or rather a place where a gate used to be. This too was familiar, and was framed by brambles and tall grass. A few feet further, and there was the narrow ocean. None of this seemed or felt particularly threatening. It was just the way it was. I wasn’t afraid. And now I remember something that happened yesterday evening while I was taking a short walk. I was just about to turn around at the halfway point, lost not in thought, but in the dreamy gray sky above the wetland behind the opposite row of houses, when a little tiny dog approximately thirty-seven years of age started barking almost at my feet. This made me jump, which startled us both, and I said to the dog, “Oh! You startled me!” and received exactly the same reply in return. Poor thing. Without intending to, it had obviously gotten out of its fenced area and didn’t quite know what to do. But the barking alerted its people and so all was well. I turned around and pulled on my hood, because it had started raining again. And now here I am, drinking coffee, listening to the birds, and watching daylight arrive through the clouds. Gray, gray, gray. What a lovely thing to say. As lovely as blue, blue, blue, tulip girls and daffodils, lilacs and the way I feel when you look my way, love.

Monday, April 24, 2017


I’ve been mentally, wordlessly adrift the past few days, enjoying the crazy spring weather, as well as everything else. We had a violent cloudburst about an hour ago, and it turned the backyard into a lake. There is still water standing everywhere, front and back, down the street, across the street, in the air, and even up in the trees. Not adrift, therefore, in any despairing sense, but indeed most agreeably so — profoundly, spiritually so — adrift like a child who has just learned to tie his shoes, as I did one Thursday afternoon when I was five. I was out in the yard. I had been trying to learn at school, on the shoe-tying boot in our kindergarten class at Lincoln School. But to tie that shoe, you had to face it, which was the opposite of tying one’s own. It didn’t make sense to me. To this day I have trouble with that concept. I need to be behind the shoe, not in front of it. Anyway, I was outside playing, when I happened to notice my shoe was untied. Without thinking, I bent down and tied it, and didn’t realize what I had done until after I had done it. When I did, I shouted for joy and ran into the house to tell everyone I’d finally succeeded. And I’ve been tying my own shoes ever since. Adrift in that sense — in the sense that I feel quite certain I have told this story before, to someone, to you, to others, in this and in other times, every few seconds needing to glance down at my shoe, just to be sure — of what? If I knew that, I wouldn’t be adrift. I would be almost sixty-one, sitting at my mother’s old desk, writing this note. And we both know that can’t be, especially because it is. And if that makes sense, let it go, as I do every time those twin pests, logic and sanity, come to call.