Burn

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Burn

~~ “He suffered with daring; he died without complaint”
— 
Claude Cahun

~~ “He gon’ think I’m a ho
fuck that I liked it
I was drunk & it was my birthday anyway -”
— 
Andre 3000 (spoken by Rosario Dawson)

In The Tree of Life
Malick fuses the link:
A
Beginning.
Berlioz’s Requiem,
brocade of grief.
And the dinosaur
who died by the river
where the dead boy caught crawfish
and his mother now stands
speechless as a Saint
or a rock
that may
or may not
be an old bone.
Bone, stardust, flight.
Her fingers trace
the rushes,
her hand becomes
a claw.

~~~~

When he grabbed my neck
from behind
I heard Berlioz.
(Unto Thee shall all flesh come…)
Ascendent voices. Encircling lyrics
of loss, of pleasure
and the gorgeous
threat
of death,
and I died to it –
to his linked fingers
and the chorus
and the leave-taking
his eyes took
so soon after ~
drop of rain in the desert.

God
I
thirst.

~~~~

A teacher said:
“the mind is slippery.”
I imagined an eel,
but really the mind
is a newborn child

all want and need and hunger
and guiding scents.

And these elements
change in relation
to one another –
solipsisms –
which is a slippery
word
for self-absorbed tale-telling
the kind we know best
and usually only.

~~~~

Yesterday
I woke to swollen hands
and eyes that looked past themselves
in a dusty mirror.

It was time
for the quarterly burn.
I am an expert
at leaving
little villages
as an army might:
drones
kill connections.
I love watching embers
lilting upward
to the night sky.

To one beau
I said:
“I am in the mood
for sparring.
And I will win, so please
stay away.”
In my kindness I spared him;
the rest I just deleted ~

I thought of writing to my children
while I walked in the rain:
Love everyone.
Trust no one.
And my Angels there
is no such thing
as a happy ending,
only
the repeat and repeat
of beginnings
that carry the weight
of a village priest
or a mother
burying her dead.

 

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Shuttered

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Shuttered

I work.
I work and I dress beautifully.
I work and I dress beautifully and I listen with attention.
I work and I dress beautifully and I listen with attention. I speak with elegance.

I work and I dress beautifully and I listen with attention. I speak with elegance.
And then I go to a disassembled two room apartment
and I fall – no, I do not fall, because I cannot and because writing
the phrase “I fall” is lazy and anymore I do not write nor do I dance
nor really even practice – really I do not live

I just think about it.
Living.
What it might be like
What it used to be, but this, too,
is lazy
as is all sentimental mental gestures.

I keep thinking
is despair
a mind-state
or a feeling-state

and how the fuck
did we get
into this State –

trump
on the button
Iran on the brink

I cannot listen to voices anymore

When did language
become
mere noise?

Celan on the bridge.
Berryman on the bridge.
Woolf in the water.

Language
an assault
that cannot contain
mind-states
feeling-states
or the end of States.

Here is an amusing story:
I am in Love.
No.
I
Love.
Get me closer, shave away the excess.
Love.

A
young man
dark skin
darker mind.
Elusive and cruel
and he
stole me
from my-self

and he shook
my frame
like a predator.

His eyes are blacker than his skin.

For a long time
she was Artemis.

But now
she is
Persephone
with no mother
to grieve her.

The Dull “I”

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The Dull “I”

When I began writing I loved the long essay form of autobiographical essay.

Now I am so tired of myself, of writing even the slender, deceptively simply “I” thatfind it impossibly dull to do so.

What is left when one has grown so very weary of oneself?

Enlightenment?
Drugs?
Suicide?
Service?

Perhaps all, not in that order.

The I knows nothing. I know nothing.
Experience is a sequence of felt sense, pattern that turns on a dime to addiction or perception, opaque desire, and even when desire is sated, discomfort.

This is the current felt sense of the body I inhabit: discomfort. It has always been thus.
Eating disorders, unhappy childhoods, rape, assaults physical and mental, ambition, failures, love, touch sex marriage, children, embodiment in physical form – it all seems to lead to the same portal: let us be elsewhere.

I love drugs as much as I love practice. It is a prayer, isn’t it: let us be elsewhere.

Today I walked away from a lover, began perhaps to finally grieve my unending love for my husband who is the X on my blooded heart, found out he was dating, cried for hours upon hours, had my daughters come home only to observe them punch one another, and then felt the exquisite pain of my smallest child’s delicate teeth sink with rather alarming consequence into the softest part of my tricep. Blood, rage, tears, regret… on and on it goes. For all of us, every sentient being, all the time.

We took the dog outside into the warm spring dusk.

The moon reflected down on us her borrowed light.
And the patterns were suspended, drifting upward like used webs.

Quietude.
All that remains.

Moon Tide

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Moon Tide

When the arrival
is upon us
after years or minutes
or lifetimes

I do believe
all that is left
of our great
homecoming

is
heart-break.
And how could it not
be so
after the cities and roads and mountains
the grandeur of the Southern Pacific,
moon at dawn,
brown bodies balanced on waves
that look like lapis jaws

and you remember
only the footprint of a small seabird
whose name you never knew ~

she said, briefly ~

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she said, briefly ~

I

In each person there exists a point of stillness. I have had the most direct experience of this often inaccessible terrain while being guided in practice by Richard Freeman. In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, if one slows down enough, there are moments that can stretch to an infinite vista, vast as the Universe: it is the brief abandonment of the ego’s poison-grip.

Before lifting the body, which at this stage of practice often feels weightless, into Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulderstand supported with hands), it is recommended to lie flat on the Earth, palms down, limbs delightfully stiffened just to the point of muscular sensation, not beyond.

This pose, which might look like a tense corpse, is called Tadaka MudraTadaka, from the Sanskrit, means a pond, or a pool. Mudra, loosely, is a seal, or a gathering in by the body, the hands, the head, to increase or decrease a certain energy or spiritual intention.

As the body rests-does-not-rest in Tadaka Mudra, occasionally a hollowing takes place. The hollowing is at the deepest root of the lower abdomen: it is as if the limbs, the ribs, the pelvic bones become the land, perhaps the land of our common, every day life, and in the center that land gives way to a sacred, secret and primordial, indeed impersonal, depth.

I have touched this depth in guided practice, in Zen practice, and, very occasionally, in my own exploration. This is the great stillness I believe we all seek, which is ironic: in the seeking we create suffering, grasping, and so the illusive, shimmering Tadaka floats further away. Water, after all, cannot be gripped.

We know this point through spiritual practice, through poems (Eliot’s Four Quartets: “At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;/ there the dance is,/ but neither arrest nor movement…”), through philosophy (Kant’s theory of noumenon vs. the world apprehended by the senses and intellect), and, of course, through personal revelation.

II

What does it mean when the access to stillness abandons the mind, or is stolen by that Thief in the Night, overwhelming circumstance?

The place of silence, which might be Peace – consider the Greek Eirene, so like Mother Mary – or Infinite Love – seeing Vishnu in one’s heart: this place is the perfect Jewel of the Soul. Or, if one is uncomfortable with spiritual image, this is where relaxation, genuine letting go, occurs. We build around this Jewel temples of protection, ambition, structure and illusion. It is the place within us that holds the most contradiction, as we will do anything to guard it and then exert equal effort to never visit it for more than a moment. If there is a center to Being, this faceted, blinding Jewel is the representation.

And here we enter a world necessarily beyond language, a world in which language itself is a poor symbol, an extended hand of mere gesture, a simplistic outline of meaning.

And yet, and yet.
For me it is more and more concrete, the Presence and then the Absence of soul, of peace, of love. Recently I spent a week in a madhouse. I went, simply, because the circumstances of my life, what I have done to myself, allowed others to do to me, has caused me to slip, fall, and the falling did not stop.

In the madhouse everyone was falling. And because humans have a need to love, to seek peace, we tried to catch one another. If one imagines the slapstick of Laurel and Hardy blended with Euripides’ brutal interpretation of murder and madness in Herakles, this is a fairly accurate portrayal of the comedic hopelessness of Bipolar-Major Depression-PTSD-Extremely Anxious humans attempting to connect.

III

Now I know.

Madness is the sacking of the Jewel.

Who does the sacking, and whether the Jewel can be replaced or if its absence is only an illusion is all a matter of interpretation, and, as one is in the middle of the mess, utterly irrelevant. What replaces the Soul when it’s gone is pain. A pain that is physical, existential, mental, in the body and out of body all at once and all the time. People who judge the suicidal have no sense of the pain that encompasses the Soul-less beings who are, quite simply, seeking relief from something so far gone it is indescribable.

Madness is absence, the incapacity to describe the absence, and the solitary confinement that is the natural result of that incapacity. In this way, just as Love can be an infinite loop of openness and joy, so can its departure: pain begets pain, the trip becomes a fall, the fall becomes an endless vertigo of isolation.

Aside: if you ever wonder what it’s like to be around crazy people when you, also, are  crazy: it is, in a word, comforting. We are all in this (secret, shamed) war together. And, to be as simple as possible, there is nothing left to protect, defend, or to dress up and pretend. My roommate showed me the open wounds on her wrists as casually as one reveals a grey hair. I was around impoverished addicts and perpetual liars and lawyers and mothers and beautiful teenage girls and an 80 year old retired executive and we were all leveled to an equality that I imagine only combat and sickness can create.

I have always been a child, then a girl, then a woman, of extremes.
I know what it is to touch Infinite peace under the guidance of Richard Freeman’s patrician, elegant hand.
I know what it is to live, if one can call it that, with moment by moment suicidal impulse.

This is either a gift or a death sentence. (What in life is not a death sentence? I cannot help but allow my mind to linger on the comfortingly obvious…).
But here I am, my daughters asleep by my side, and I am writing these words.

And I can see a glimmer of diamond in each of their perfect hearts.

Poem for D

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Poem for D
“-..and then I hear
your heart and mine beating,
and both with fear.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, from the Book of Hours

Where am I?
What have I done

with me?

Over here?
No…..not over here –
~  ~ Over there?
Not over there either…
Under the piano
on top of the shelf
is no me or I
or even one Self.

Said I to Mama
at 3AM
“When people get married
they die to their Love.
Wedding. Cake. Then buried.”

A ballet leap
from dream to terror –

but then –
Mama’s skin
and the silk-soft Maltese
on his pillow –

In early dawn
I hear birdsong

~ ~ it is spinning
~ ~ ~ ~ into the tail of a peacock

Mama
breathes
me
~ to safer
~ ~ shores…

Prayer I

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Prayer I
~~
for Livi

I knew her breath
before her face –
cheeks flushed with meth,
black eyes embrace

the careless slaughter
of her own youth.
Livi. Daughter.
Mother. Her truth

long gone long ago;
she’ll shoot, smoke, snort,
gums numb from blow,
the notes from court

still shut and piled
with other shit
that makes a child
give up and quit.

Her baby sleeps
at home while she
sleeps it off, weeps
“One day you’ll see ~”

Livi love. Look:
That boy, his deed
is from a book
you cannot read.

 

Loser

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Loser

 

 

 

 

I wish it were possible to be like Rembrandt.

In my genius
casual as a shawl thrown across my back
I could make
for you
a sketch.

In a few words, just a few, I could tell you, reader,

that I have lost.

When does loss turn one into a loser? Is it a set timeline, something evolutionary, even biological? Is it a design? Once the design has reached some predetermined point along the scale, it’s over. The transformation, or the disintegration, is total.

Oh.
When I was a girl, with my long braids and big angry eyes, looking out for the next betrayal, I fell in love with travel and Fred Astaire and Valentino red. Someday, I knew, I would be living in a small cottage by the sea. There would be music and books and all life would lie before me, something ephemeral but true, an essence mysterious but, for me alone, forever reliable.

I would always be an arrow. Quick, sure, sudden.
Waves, wind at night,
sunsets of aggressive loveliness.

Never lonely.

When I was a girl I was always traveling. France, first and always. Italy, North Africa, West Africa, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanke, Mongolia, Patagonia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Equador, Honduras, Mexico, begin again, take a small dart, point it at a beautiful antique map, go there.

Never. Stop.

Oh.
When I was a girl….
Life was elsewhere.
Planes overhead, silk skirts and slender ankles.
Sex at dawn.
A day was a month was a year –
the greatest gift granted to the young:
the meaninglessness
of Time.

How old were you
when you realized
that poetry was far
failure near
and there is no poetry
in the failures
of the middle years.

I have failed my children.
I have failed my ex-husband-

who hates me with such vengeance we both, now, agree
my death
would be a boon.

I have failed at the bank.
I have failed on the zafu.
Failed. Failed. Failed.
Whatever potential I possessed, I fucked it
up and over.
The more the potential,
the more the fuckup.

Consider:
“Failure” has its root in the Old French.
It means
non-occurrence.

Have you ever been truly, truly hated?

Have you ever been truly, truly hated by a lover a husband a wife
who used to fuck you,

who held a glass of Pieper Heidsieck –
cold and elegant as a corsetted woman in its thin flute –

while you, dressed in hand sewn silk chiffon,
fabric draped in the back to the lowest hollow (Straight spine
giving way to vistas of undulating haunch and hip),

drunkenly gaze at this now-murderous stranger –
while he spoke
to you
and everyone in the candle-lit room
of Love erotic and Eternity spelled out in decades?
Have you?
He said
“I love you, I love your face. I love this:
upon waking every morning it will be your face I first see.”
My face.
His rising sun.
Navigation.
This way, this way, this way, I am your East.

I think I could hand him my dead body
as a belated wedding gift.

But it would not be enough.

Oh
So here I sit
in the middle years
the ugly years
the years
that speak loudly
these are the years of crude announcement:
“this is what you have done
this is what you will never do”

I used to be on the side of Nietzsche. I used to understand that human beings are weak incarnations of what they could be, that godliness is far from us, that our manifestation is of weakness, ugliness, grasping selfishness.
Failler. non. evenement.

We are not gods.
No vision. No interpretion.
We cannot live in the present,
only wish
to slay the gap.

No Buddha
No Artemis
No Christ
No Aphrodite
No Apollo.

All love is arrogance.
All lovelessness a violation.

I am out of mind.
Muttering griefs to small children,
weeping on the heart of a man
who sees nothing but weakened snares in my shoulders.
He shakes them loose.

“You cannot escape you”
he says
“but I can.”

Oh.
When I was small.
And the world was big.
The future spread before me like a quilt.

See her, sitting in her room, so unhappy, the horror of a lonely childhood hanging like a canopy.
Small fingers, with those untended nails,
set out long golden needles
strips of silk and old cotton, threads of many colors,
stitching the future –
outline the escape –

delicate origami
wishes,
future on the forever-horizon,
created
by the stitches
of a child.

Double

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Double

Close
your
eyes.

fallen

wings
drifting
settling
to a veined blackness.

Respite
in the center –
hear voices rise
and release,
free from their creators
neither intent
nor context

therefore
without division

and so
form
and its outline
dissipate

split-cloud

print
on the page
before sleep.

When you were lovers
those first nights

division

was the enemy
fought
with limbs tongue loins
this urge and urge and urge

toward union
toward the invisible
center

that is
the heart’s completion
final stop

before
the break
and bleed –

 

 

 

Hunter

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Hunter

Forgotten snare
burrowed in beds of sweet moss,
hungry mouth hidden
by damp soil that rusts the jaw;
forest deep, forever needle-green.
Red-tailed raptors surf a frozen wind
and blue-jays are stunned to silence
by a gentle unrelenting snow.

The rot arrives with surprising speed ~
so fragile the limb, the mind so inured to it ~
this lovely left arch, the one that would step first
out and away from him
is necrotic, green and violet, touch of red, like
a honeymoon sunset, cocktails over the caldera –
The toothy trap chews through stubborn bits
poison poison poison
stills the slender feet
the fleet mind
“Where is my world?
Where is the train.. it is time to board, our worn leather bags
have gone missing.
Who holds the small torn bear
for my daughter?
Where is the music that drifts through the harbor,  breath of intermezzo,
form to form, sky to sea? Where in the world
is my world?”

Murderer.
poison
poison
poison
flushes the veins like vines
reaching sunward in the shadowed forest
brain drunk with memory and then its absence.
In the spring the hunter remembers this trap,
so efficient
it is empty.