Saturday, December 31, 2005

The year of...?

We wait to see what the new year brings.
Impatiently sometimes, with paper hats
kazoo's, confetti, but when it comes, finally,
the old year having suddenly vanished from sight,

our blushed faces, corporately, go white
and our breath streams out, long and thin,
for that one stunning moment when the new year is
walking in. In that confusing hubbub that arises,
in that No Year, when the old has slunk
like the snake that he was out the back door
and the new year is creating an uproar in the entryway,
there is a blank second, a moment to turn
to someone standing next to you
and say something, a word, any word
free from the giant weight of time.
Squeek it out just then - don't fumble
for the right word, don't go looking for a pen
or camera to immortalize

but look right in their eyes and say
something, perhaps only a name for the new year,
(a name could keep him, if spoken in that
eternal moment, from being your master,
could teach you the inward holiness required
to keep a foot on the neck of time)

and when you do, a music will begin
between the two of you, and spin its light and airy
way out into the crowds of paper-hatted folk
blaring horns and breaking glass.

They will not know, and neither will you
except for a sudden resonating hum
that will thrum inside your mouth,
in every word you say from that day
until the next Dec 31st.

Whay am I getting at?
There should be a thirst
inside your souls throat
from a moment like this
and words like this
and music
and hope
like this.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Between Birds & I

No longer does a spirit extend
between myself and the roadside
birds. Before, flames of light
licked out from a hawk's
sudden form, and blue music
gripped me with fresh hands
when a heron stood upright
on a swell of grass within sight
of my hunched position at the wheel.
That was the way it was.
Sparrows flitting in liquid mass
were charged with the pathos
of a rainbow, or a lover.

Now, I still see, but
the record hand pulls the wrong way
clicking over the cocentric circles outward,
not making the infinite music of rhythm with
the world's wise, but instead the dry notch
of foot on plank, of conscious eyes clicking
in unmoistened sockets, walking towards an ocean
of silence.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Therefore, we must pay much close attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. I am an example of this Hebrews. I have drifted in spirit, though I used to fight passionately to pay attention. Perhaps I fought in the wrong way, perhaps I was destined to fail, but regardless, I am now drifting. Whether nearer or further, it is a matter of perspective.
But I fear, and no longer rejoice, that what the angels declared to us has proved and will prove reliable, and that every transgression and disobediance will be punished with a just retribution. How shall I escape since if I continue to neglect so great a salvation? It was declared to us by the Lord, and attested to us by many people who lived so long ago, who we believe heard the lord speaking in the dusty courtyards of Jerusalem, and if that wasn't enough, God Himself also bore witness to us through signs and wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the spirit distributed according to His will. These gifts of the spirit might bear witness today as well, if we lived in the spirit. If I lived in the spirit of Christ, and not in the spirit of Drifting Away.
For it was not to the angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking, for which we long even as we drift. It has been testified somewhere, some time long ago,

What is man that you are mindful of him?
The son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little while lower than the angels.
You have crowned Him with honor and glory,
and have put everything in subjection under his feet.

In putting everything under subjection to him, he left nothing outside of his control. At present, we do not see everything in subjection to him. At present, we see everything drifting and breaking and dying, haunted with a living light that cannot be attained. At present.
At present? Lord we long for Your light to fill our limbs, so that by the power of grace through faith in the Spirit of Christ, we might become righteous men and women, holy men and women - men and women who are able to stand in a living world of flesh and spit and feathers and dirt, and smile and shout "Hallelujah! The Lord is good!"

But all we see, all we can see, is Him, the ancient picture of Him,

who for a little while was made lower than the angels, who was forsaken by his friends, kissed by his enemies, who touched the dead and diseased with tenderness and care and whose body was broken, whose side was rammed with a roman spear, who was crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death,
so that by the grace of God he might taste the thin, foul, dark flavor of death
for everyone.

Who is this King of Glory?

How shall I know Him?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Long Way

If I am traveling in the rain toward
a distant black nexus on the underbelly
of a stormcloud, the lightning
always beats me there.

The lightning flashes again and again
reinflaming the swelling mass of black cloud-tissue
with radiating volts the color of plumflesh.

I watch, and walk.

A blue rain issues out of the cloud, suddenly,
released, a torrent, then ebbing
waxing, spattering down to a few drops.

Then a break of light, bright orange and warm
through the broken cloud and my point of destination
is wholly new, and horses thunder the ground around me
misting my goal with their sweat and smoke.

A hawk hangs in the air, just there.

All cloud is swept away and flowers open beneath
with bright mandarin petals, heavy with pollen.
The air is dried to the point of static.
A clarity of sense and sight of all creatures
hums, buzzes.

And it stays overlong. Till the point of an over-repeated song,
and your eyes stray, yet
you stay on course.

You stay on the long way
through the transformation of the thing
you thought you knew by sight.

When along, perhaps, it was only
an abstract point
in the matrix of light.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


This morning Kierkegaard
lit my cigarette.
I leapt up from the cafe table
"This present age!
We have neither passion nor reflection!
We are like lukewarm boneless
chicken breasts thawing slowly
in the microwave, on low!"
When I landed back into my seat
I looked immediately at Kierkegaard & saw
the black point of a devilish grin begin
high up beneath the cheek bone on the left side of his face
then slowly stretch & slither across the gaunt terrain
to the darkened arc of the other side, until
with a shuffle & a slurp of spit, it collapsed
down to the "o" around his own cigarette
which he also lit.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Some Further Words

by Wendell Berry

Let me be plain with you, dear reader.

I am an old-fashioned man. I like
the world of nature despite its mortal
dangers. I like the domestic world
of humans, so long as it pays its debts
to the natural world, and keeps its bounds.
I like the promise of Heaven. My purpose
is a language that can repay just thanks
and honor for those gifts, a tongue
set free from fashionable lies.

Neither this world nor any of its places
is an "environment." And a house
for sale is not a "home." Economics
is not "science," nor "information" knowledge.
A knave with a degree is a knave. A fool
in a public office is not a "leader."
A rich thief is a thief. And the ghost
of Arthur Moore, who taught me Chaucer,
returns in the night to say again:
"Let me tell you something, boy.
An intellectual whore is a whore."

The world is babbled to pieces after
the divorce of things from their names.
Ceaseless preparation for war
is not peace. Health is not procured
by sale of medication, or purity
by the addition of poison. Science
at the bidding of the corporations
is knowledge reduced to merchandise;
it is a whoredom of the mind,
and so is the art that calls this "progress."
So is the cowardice that calls it "inevitable."

I think the issues of "identity" mostly
are poppycock. We are what we have done,
which includes our promises, includes
our hopes, but promises first. I know
a "fetus" is a human child.
I loved my children from the time
they were conceived, having loved
their mother, who loved them
from the time they were conceived
and before. Who are we to say
the world did not begin in love?

I would like to die in love as I was born,
and as myself of life impoverished go
into the love all flesh begins
and ends in. I don't like machines,
which are neither mortal nor immortal,
though I am constrained to use them.
(Thus the age perfects its clench.)
Some day they will be gone, and that
will be a glad and a holy day.
I mean the dire machines that run
by burning the world's body and
its breath. When I see an airplane
fuming through the once-pure sky
or a vehicle of the outer space
with its little inner space
imitating a star at night, I say,
"Get out of there!" as I would speak
to a fox or a thief in the henhouse.
When I hear the stock market has fallen,
I say, "Long live gravity! Long live
stupidity, error, and greed in the palaces
of fantasy capitalism!" I think
an economy should be based on thrift,
on taking care of things, not on theft,
usury, seduction, waste, and ruin.

My purpose is a language that can make us whole,
though mortal, ignorant, and small.
The world is whole beyond human knowing.
The body's life is its own, untouched
by the little clockwork of explanation.
I approve of death, when it comes in time
to the old. I don't want to five
on mortal terms forever, or survive
an hour as a cooling stew of pieces
of other people. I don't believe that life
or knowledge can be given by machines.
The machine economy has set afire
the household of the human soul,
and all the creatures are burning within it

"Intellectual property" names
the deed by which the mind is bought
and sold, the world enslaved. We
who do not own ourselves, being free,
own by theft what belongs to God,
to the living world, and equally
to us all. Or how can we own a part
of what we only can possess
entirely? Life is a gift we have
only by giving it back again.
Let us agree: "the laborer is worthy
of his hire," but he cannot own what he knows,
which must be freely told, or labor
dies with the laborer. The farmer
is worthy of the harvest made
in time, but he must leave the light
by which he planted, grew, and reaped,
the seed immortal in mortality,
freely to the time to come. The land
too he keeps by giving it up,
as the thinker receives and gives a thought,
as the singer sings in the common air.

I don't believe that "scientific genius"
in its naive assertions of power
is equal either to nature or
to human culture. Its thoughtless invasions
of the nuclei of atoms and cells
and this world's every habitation
have not brought us to the light
but sent us wandering farther through
the dark. Nor do I believe
.artistic genius" is the possession
of any artist. No one has made
the art by which one makes the works
of art. Each one who speaks speaks
as a convocation. We live as councils
of ghosts. It is not "human genius"
that makes us human, but an old love,
an old intelligence of the heart
we gather to us from the world,
from the creatures, from the angels
of inspiration, from the dead--
an intelligence merely nonexistent
to those who do not have it, but --
to those who have it more dear than life.

And just as tenderly to be known
are the affections that make a woman and a man
their household and their homeland one.
These too, though known, cannot be told
to those who do not know them, and fewer
of us learn them, year by year.
These affections are leaving the world
like the colors of extinct birds,
like the songs of a dead language.

Think of the genius of the animals,
every one truly what it is:
gnat, fox, minnow, swallow, each made
of light and luminous within itself.
They know (better than we do) how
to live in the places where they live.
And so I would like to be a true
human being, dear reader-a choice
not altogether possible now.
But this is what I'm for, the side
I'm on. And this is what you should
expect of me, as I expect it of
myself, though for realization we
may wait a thousand or a million years.

May-August, 2001

Didactic Poetry

I recently picked up Wendell Berry's new book of poetry Given. Within it is a poem called "Some Further Words". It is, more so than any poem I have read outside of the Biblical poetry, what one might call "didactic".
That is, Berry takes one thumb and loops it through his suspender strap, and the other farm-calloused hand he extends and firmly places on your shoulder. He tells you something. He believes something about the world - about the relationship between human-beings, trees, beasts and the clouds over his head - and he explains this to you.
In an age where belief in any kind of universal knowledge is mocked, didactic poetry is little more than a joke. I am sure that many see Berry as a quaint old farmer prattling on harmlessly.
Poe wasn't the first to attack didactic poetry, I'm sure, but he surely did so in a vivid manner. "Heresy" he called it, in his essay The Poetic Principle. His scathing condescension for anyone foolish enough to give credibility to didactic poetry hinges upon the belief that truth, and its explication, has no home within the pathos-charged field of poetry.
That is where he differs from the snickering intellectuals of today's literary world. They know something he did not; that no such thing as truth exists. We are, suffice to say, chemical, and poetry is little more than chemical.
"Literary despair" is what Carver Yu famously called it, and the intellectuals of today have taken this for granted. They have become quite used to the huge aching vacuum in poetry where Truth used to have residence. Poetry has become either trite mystical descriptions and half-prophecies unbelieved in or, as Berry puts it, "one long note of woe."

Berry is interested in life. He is interested in humanity. His interest is seen in his lifestyle, and not in his words. His words spring out of his lifestyle. His life and words teach each other.

He is a good man, full of wisdom. I am honored that he would take me by the shoulder look me in the eye and say (as quoted in an interview with Mr. Berry in 1999):

"Well, be a little steady now. No, you can't quit, you're not finished yet."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Suburban Soliloquy #6

Upon the blacktop street
with steam rising slightly
from each drummed raindrop
I stood - at the epicenter
of Suburbia,
and I stopped
my breath
with a word
too large
to fit up the narrow pipe
that rose erect, plastic, perfect
though the particle-board corridor
of my neck.

The transient ghosts who came and went
in streaks of blue and silver-gleam
always carefully following
the yellow-dashed line -
they rubbernecked endlessly,
fleshlessly, oh so disney-happily.

And the rain began to overflow
because it would not drain
because I could not know
a way to let go
of the word suburbia
would not let rise or sink
in my throat.

It pooled about my feet
and the yellow jackets
having fininshed weaving their attic nests
each came and filled his heaving thorax
with a drink.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Ideas are like Christmas Ornaments

Autumn is here again - what a happiness to find that the year has gone through its cycle of life and come to the same conclusion. Like a dog turning circles before he lays down to sleep, slow & methodical, the year plods out its course and nuzzles back into that same cold & cozy slumber.
Today the rain came. Today the boys down south called to tell me they were finally moving out - finally closing the door for the last time. Oooohh lolly, talk about neurosis. My heart is doing this rollercoaster to hell thing.
We are serving an "Autumn Turkey" salad at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove.
And ideas are like Christmas Ornaments, glittering magically at the the ends of our dark organic brain stems, hung there for old reasons and meanings the knowledge of which was lost generations ago.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Thoughts born in a small hotel room in Italy.

Knowledge is a relationship;
certainty is a feeling.

Knowledge is a name for the correspondence between a thinking mind and an actual world. Certainty is a name for the conviction within the being of the thinking mind of the exactitude or beauty of the relationship between mind and world. To know with cartesian certainty, as they call it in honor of the solitary frenchman, is to be certain of knowledge's correctness (compliance of mind-image with world-existence) with perfect justification. But what does it mean to be justified. Is it a reality of perception or of actual existence? I mean, to be justified must a conscious being say we are so (either ourselves or others) or can we be so by existence. If knowledge is a relationship, than justification would mean "right-placement" - or the correct position of mind to world. It would be discussing an actual relationship between objects. But I think that in the age old "justified true belief" definition it is being said that it is a perceptual/subjective occurance in the mind of a being - you aren't justified till I or you feel that you are, till we feel that in order to prove the rightness of your knowledge, your mind's relationship to real world (and to other real minds), you have used every reasonable proof and made every abstract and physical experiment to demonstrate that it could be no other way. Of course this is folly - it would never happen - never can. Therefore: "I think" is the only justified true belief. And it is only justified to yourself.
We do not live in a world of certainty - we live in a world of time and space. Knowledge and belief are completely different kinds of creatures. Knowledge describes the mirroring of a world inside a mind, and belief describes a feeling of rightness of a certain kind of feelings about perception of knowledge. Belief is a complicated occurance. And yet here we are, living by it every moment.

Science is a name for the tool by which knowledge can be modified by the sensing bodies connected to our minds - the sensual communication of the thinking mind's body to the world, and lingual communication between minds about this sensual communication with the world. Because we believe in God (who would like to try and restate this?) we beleive that the world is actually present outside of our minds, that knowledge is not an illusion, and that we may build, through language, correct knowledges about the world throughout many lifespans. Students using science say "look, I can touch and see the world outside of my mind using my body - want me to prove it, that my perceptions are real? See, watch."

We watch and believe our perceptions of his sensual communication with a real world. That is, we have feelings that our intellections of his actual presence and communication with a real world are justified - or correctly reflecting actual object to object relationship.

Knowledge is a relationship between our minds and a real world. True knowledge is a correct realtionship between our minds and a real world. Certainty is a feeling we have about the correctness our knowledge.

(intellectualization of our perceptions of a real world)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Faith is conviction towards action upon incomplete knowledge. Therefore, faith is an emotion, a passion, siphoned toward some active end that would seemingly require knowledge, but where full knowledge is unavailable. This directing of passion, according to a hope, is not solely religious, but it is always intellectual.
I watch the squirrels jump in the poplars outside my parents home, (where I am still welcome, thank you Lord), and they jump sensing that they will land. It is not a perfect sense - sometimes they miss and scrabble down the bark a bit (I've never seen one completely fall) - but most of the time they have perfect precision and grace; their senses of space come upon them and they act perfectly. But this is not a faith they have in their actions. It is sensation and reaction.
They do not hope that tomorrow they will be able to make the jump. Tomorrow comes and they sense the space and they make it or they don't, depending upon their bodies ability to correctly sense and react. As they age, I assume they stop being able to correctly sense and react. My assumption is largely based on my experience with other animals, one dog in particular, named Major, who is pratically dead, lanky, skeleton white, with black eyes smearing down to his nose. He huffs about in circles with confusion hanging in his face, bumping into end tables.
Humans deal in sensation and reaction as well - we become hungry, and we eat. We see a obstacle and we move. We sense pain, and we distract, avoid, cover over in words. We feel good in a moment of happiness, and we laugh.
Faith begins with intellect, and not sensation. I say "begins", because I grant to all human beings an equal sensation of the world - a sensation of self, though perhaps without cognizance, a sensation of world, and the divine nature inherent in the world - all not necessarily with awareness (because many die before awareness of the world is achieved through language). I use "divine nature" based on english translations of Romans chapter 1, but could also say "otherness" or "supernatural qualities".
From these sensations, we begin the examination. For this examination and interior rearticulation, we must use our intellect. Metaphysical reality is an intrinsic assumption of this act.
Faith is born from this intellectualization of the world, and intuitive thoeries drawn where complete knowledge is not had. A aesthetic incarnation should be favored in evidence.
Um, I've got to go to work.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

"Come down, my pride;

stand back my passions;
for I am wicked & I wait
for the Lord."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Suburban Soliloquy #5

Out from the people I slipped
intending to think my way
through colored concrete squares
of pink and wine.

Hundreds within footsteps hunched
and clicked or watched the slick surface of the
screen flicker images, as I do now,
so then, I walked unseen

holding my mind aloft like a light.
There is no condescension in this movement
amongst the dead who are not dead,
but stealing their songs.

"Forgetfullness" says the ancient King,
"And I am going the way of the world."

But as I walked to the beat of the silence,
feet meeting concrete slabs in soft-soled soliloquy,
I came upon a place missed by mistake -
but for their sake, I will allow for the chance of

A breathing space, formed by four misdrawn corners,
the blank box left ajar:

and the world's song, full and wild,
rich and wet, was winnowing up into suburban sky
like a series of glittering fish.

Suburban Soliloquy #4

O citizen,
press your ear to the fresh paved road
to hear how close the coming herd of gleaming chrome
has now approached.
They will be hungry when they arrive.

O citizen, to be alive upon the road
that splits the knowing fields of cultivated wheat
from the gods of chaos flinging by
toward bread & bluelight,

is to be divided, o citizen,
in half. For even I, the Self and Voice,
cannot decide which world to condemn
as one world ralleys forth with flags of righteousness
to pull like blankets out over the
breathing parts of the other.

O citizen, here is a bare spot,
come quickly and place your ear
here, as well. Learn the song of breath
before we decide otherwise.

Suburban Soliloquy #3

Signicantly, the shanty shacks of urban sprawl -
the tall, baby blue-beige or salmon stalls of sterile pleasure -
can be lifted from the suburbs of los angeles
to the urban curbs of new hampshire
and not suffer any crisis of identity.
So featureless! So perfectly blank!
Ah dearly beloved,
we are gathered here today
to totter about in nylon shirts
and designer shades.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Suburban Soliloquy #2

A hundred of you are hunched
tonight, masked in the blue-light
of the post atomic age.
What age is this?
A hundred of you have opened your eyes
like two holes for the electric blue eels of information
to slide in.
Your teeth glitter the news
when you smile.

I used to think that people who watched television
had no souls, but now I believe they do, and did
all along - my vision of beauty was just not strong
enough to see through the white noise.

A hundred of you tonight are singing
the songs of the dead from your sofa chairs.
In a million part harmony, disconnect.
When did the living learn the songs of the dead?
And with such youthful gusto they sing them!

Suburban Soliloquy #1

The people, yes,
and their cell-phones, yes,
raised at arms length,
The people, glittering in nylon
twice upon the strong neck of
invisble money. Turning upward,
thinking, twisting upon
the trunk of industry,
craning their necks upward.
The internet cables connecting
tissue to tissue. Music rushing in with wind.

Wait. Listen.
The streets & the new roads &
the million acres of mirror-image
suburban boxes are raising
their hands to ask a question.
Who can answer them?
Who has the wisdom to parent
these children who cannot recollect
the scattered letters of their own name?
Scattered by wind, cemented over.

I held my hand out the window
at 45 miles an hour to catch the light while
O'Reilley's piano poured rainbows,
wet & bright, into my silvers car's interior.
I gulped & in that moment I knew what to tell
those children, young in bone
although immobile in the impossible
plastic safety-suit of the suburbs,
but then I blinked, a moment later,
and completely forgot.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

McMenamin's Pubs

Mike McMenamin had this crazy idea: buy up a bunch of antique/quirky buildings in the Great Northwest and turn 'em into pubs. He started brewin' his own beer (the famed Hammerhead Amber Ale and the legendary Terminator Stout) roastin his own coffee, distillin' his Hogshead Whiskey, and grilling up a variety of mouth-watering barbeque burgers.
The Grand Lodge is an old Masonic Lodge which he and his cronies have converted into a Pub/Hotel. They hired a bunch of young scruffy monkeys to run the place. I am a scruffy monkey - willing to subject myself to the ignominy for a penny or two. Temporarily.
Always Temporarily.
My brother and I, in the meantime, have started a little business of mural painting. We've done 1 so far, but we are well on our way to 2. I promise. The 3rd job is out there beyond the horizon - I can feel it.
My mind is transitioning back into Think Phase. Note: it must take a lifetime to really understand oneself and the cyclical patterns of one's being. But in this postulated Think Phase, due to increased Thinkageness, I begin to once again ruminate words and concepts rather than images and ideas. (I just made a semantic division between concepts and ideas that I am too apathetic to make certain - I would only use anyway.)
The spirit of my imagination fluctuates between these two worlds. The creative engine of my art is sometimes lingual and sometimes experiential, imagistic - and it almost depends on this mood, or temperature, of the soul. Which in turn really depends on how good I am feeling about current experience - I am happy, awake, and hopeful? Or does that depend as well on this soul-temperature? What influences what - thats the question. Chicken or the egg. What is the first cause of the changes within me? Chemical? Can I know - can it be specified?
I sat in the dimming evening light back behind the Yardhouse Grill at the Grand Lodge and ate my BBQ Chicken Sandwhich, while ideas hovered like fireflies in the dark of my unverbalized and tired mind.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Mirror & the Lamp

A quote:
"To Coleridge the threat of science to poetry lay, more profoundly, in the mistaken and unbounded metaphysical pretensions of atomism and mechanism--in Coleridge's view, a useful working hypothesis for physical research which had been illicitly converted first into fact, and then into a total worldview."

Los Angeles is singing her quiet wind-chrome song again in my deepest ears - Cloaked in the coils of darkness in my head, she is pressing her smallest and softest lips to my ear drum, and whispering.
"Knowledge! History! The Snake! The Sea Star!"

According to Bowra, who wrote "The Romantic Imagination" quoted in The Mirror and The Lamp, the romantic poets "agreed on one single point : that the creative imagination is closely connected with a peculiar insight into an unseen order behind visible things."

We say it a thousand times, but we must always be humbled. Honesty always always includes humility, little did Wittgenstein know.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

knowledge & poetry

Souls are interior landscapes haunted with beings, birds, beasts. Knowledge is the Red-Winged Blackbird of my soul - broken, black, humbled, faithful, cheerful. Poetry is the Red-tailed Hawk - longing, incomplete, hoping, distant. Both are beautiful - they temper my being with their songs, keep me from having a dishonest being. A dishonest being is an imbalanced being whose action results neither from faith (knowledge) nor hope (poetry) nor love. These beings do not have soul's justice - they have no justice in their action or relationships - they are mechanical, for they must be. Or something to this effect. Where is an image I can incarnate my idea in?
Ideas are very beautiful, because they have meaning, truth - they have consequences.

I think we should wear little nametag placards on our chests with either a Red-Winged Blackbird or a Red-Tailed Hawk to signify where we are at... remembering and sorting bring into the light - or pushing forward, exploring, into the haze. Discourse or prophecy.

Humble yourself in the sight of the unseen Lord.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

New Sheperd Poem

Sometimes after the sun's scheduled departure
I am still sitting in a chair
staring at the coffee table
counting words & I find
that the surface of my eyes
becomes suddenly slick.
Then, when I reach for the hood of my sweatshirt
to signify to myself the curtain's daily closing
on my mind, I find, often, a soft lump
nuzzled in the hood's folds.
Once I pulled the hood over despite,
spending the entire night with a feathered body
warming my pate. By morning
he'd dissolved & I sang strange songs that day.

Most times I will lift him out
& sit awhile longer,
holding him lightly on my lap,
extending a wing, gently, with my fingertips.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Take Poplar Trees For Instance

Once you have scraped up a small pile of words onto intuition, you must organize and straighten out before you can begin inuiting again - you must understand what it is that you have intuited. The words act as revelation.
Specifically, the mind - I am thinking about what I have come to believe about the mind - not from any theory, but from my own flashes of understanding into how my mind works. The main idea I have become convinced of is that the mind has at least two parts - one contains words & awareness & knowledge, and the other contains abstract understanding of the world. I think of it as under and over the surface of water. I dont say this for any reason except personal experience - I have always felt that words didnt bring knowledge, but brought awareness & articulative light to abstract concepts - ideas - that haven't been particularized, and therefore known personally. What I know I have known - words didn't make me know things. Words made me see what I know. Take poplar trees for instance (this is how I should have started this, with an image - I'll just retitle it) - there is a line of five sky-sweeping poplars behind the house I grew up in. They've always been there. I think I have always loved them. But up until a few years ago I don't think I would have mentioned them to you if I was telling you about my house. I would have told you about things that fit within the common area of our language, or at least the common area that I was a part of at that time; that is, I would told you about the size or color of the house, where it is in the state, how long we had lived there. General stuff.
But a couple years ago, coming on 5 now I guess, I learned the name of the poplar tree. With just that one word, my conception of them ...was brought into the light - came alive ... suddenly I remembered everything I knew & loved about those tall leafy wind-whisperers in the back yard, that had hung above my head since I was little.
The understanding of the trees was there - the sense perception, and the bringing in of that perception into some kind of sub-awareness pool where all understanding mingles in unworded abstraction. Mingles isn't the right word - because there is no particular. Particular things (for that is how they were created) are known, but in the un-worded mind, the abstract mind, they are perceived and held as ... large mass of world color. But my thought is that we have understanding of these things before we word them - that because of the relative unity of all things inside the abstract mind (dare I say "spirit") understanding comes more naturally.
But without words, ... there would be no light, no seeing, no thankfullness and communication of such for this beautiful world. Adam's given task of naming the animals makes more sense at that point.
You who came up with the name for the Poplar tree: thank you.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


The world - if you'll humor me - is a polished hardwood dining room floor. We are children, sliding sock-clad in and out of sunbeams. Sometimes, there are, in the course of aging, nails that get shaken up, or were always there, butting their small rusted heads into the path of pure pleasure.
Choice is my current hang-up. Everytime I try to slide through my poetic thought process, I get snagged, and the heel of my poem is torn gaping wide.
What makes a man choose something? "Preference" is the current favorite word - not of me, mind you, I hate the idea of choosing according to whatever I will. Unless our wills are somehow perfect in their creative power before a tainting element is added...
It doesn't seem determined, but then it doesn't seem like I can make my own choices - being pushed about by our whim, which is what causes a man to move outside of careful choice - the tendential, emotional following of trained desire, is essentially determinism in my mind. If we are led by whim we are not led by choice. Question: can choosing by intuition be real free-choice?
It is obvious to me that we choose - but, but, I don't see what element we add to the chain of conditioning events that makes the movement our own...
California, mid-june, on a sunny afternoon
Chopin's bright rain of lighthearted notes
falling softly in the other room:
mists & rainbows shining back into the dark caves
of the gloom of my word-heavy mind.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Frank Murdock

Sat across the table from old Frank Murdock tonight. A small spot of bright blood appeared on his wrinkled and blue-veined wrist - the one resting on the Black Angus tabletop. It looked like it seeped out of his skin - as if after a while, when you are very old & dry, your skin just gets too tired and stops being able to hold the blood back all the time. The blood spot eventually purpled, clotted.
He is a great old gentlemen. Snappy, blue-eyed - dating a woman when I met him, after being married to Dorothy for 56 years. Dorothy died in the 90's and Ronnie, the woman he was dating, died in February. I met them when I was waiting tables. They always sat in my section. They really came to love me in a short time, and when I saw him tonight a light went on in his eyes and I knew it meant he really cared about me, was glad to see me.
Has been in the Christian Science church since the war got over. Dont really know what that means to him, why he chose it, why a man chooses anything. I am appalled and awestruck when I look into the eyes of an 80+ year old man, and feel only life. No words, no reasons, no heaviness of concept - only life, and a whole lot of it.
"He needs truth, he needs Christ!!" my mind shouts. My body says "Huh? What? Life!? Ah!!?!"
Lord, we humble ourselves before You, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, light to light.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Well, I am headed down to the southern end of the West Coast again... don't know why I do things... preference? felt-need? belief in a cause? familial pressure?
I was thinking about time, and how it seems it goes so fast, and I began to wonder why that feeling of the quickness of time builds an anxiety inside me... What do I feel like I should be doing with the time that I havent done that makes me feel this way? Time passing is just part of life, and therefore should be joyful. Why don't I believe that with my body?
We move one way, and then can never unmove that way... it is the thought of death, of the end of movement,I think,that leads to my anxiety. Potential! I will not live up to my potential!
"Humic Songs" is finished. Printed forty - now to cut, collate, and staple.


Tuesday, May 31, 2005

last nights poetry, after reading DH Lawerence

I wait in a dying world.
What can a man do
while he waits in a dying world?
I wait in a dying world
with an armful of sleeping songbirds.


Go to sleep, child,
with a songbird in
the crook of your neck.
Sleep deep, with a purring songbird
folded against the tender skin
between throat & chin.

"Should I close my eyes
against the dark of the night?
Will it press its fingers down on me?
Will the darkness open up
and swallow me whole, even
if I am strong, and cling
to this song, feather & bone
in the sling of my throat?"

Go to sleep child,
and hold as you go, but
the world may break before you wake.
It is fragile;
thin as a new egg.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sunday after two weekend weddings

Love drove Dante to write the Divine Comedy, & I am lovesick after two weddings - beautiful settings both of them, beautiful ladies prancing about in beautiful red gowns.
One tall bridesmaid kept looking at me & smiling, and these things are like beautiful feathered darts, you know, on hot Saturday afternoons, across hard-wood dance floors.
"Woman", I think, "You have no idea what you would be getting into."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Willamette Valley Creed

I was reading through the early creeds of the church - from the so-called Apostles Creed to the Confessions of Martin Luther. It made me want to articulate what I have come to believe. The resounding perfection in every way of the person of Jesus Christ in history and prophecy is what saves me from Deism. If you are not at least a deist you are living a lie.
"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth..."

I have the gospel up here, oak & sunlight, words comprehended through the divine nature present in the world, and compared to my human nature. Things are a certain way - what explanation accounts? Why must I make an explanation? Why must a man account for his experience? Why do we desire to? Must we only because we desire to? Because of felt significance & meaning? Why do so many not care? Why do I care so deeply? Is our caring only voiced in different ways? Or is my caring something else voiced in this fashion? What is the basic essence of my caring about the world?

The world is beautiful, and we are self-aware, and we have language to organize and explain...

Poetry - where mind & matter find their mating.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Representative

No, not about politics. I can never reach my mind into politics. It is so far from me - so far from a man trying to locate his body and mind in a world. I must deal with politics as one deals with the scratchy branches of a doug fir, walking into a wood.
The representative I spoke of in the title is this: every day a creature from the world of nature will announce itself to you in brilliance. For since the beginning of the world it has been like this: divine nature burning sign-form in the creatures of earth nature.
This morning I stepped from my front door at 6:15 and three scrub jays scattered through the air space of the side yard, framed with poplars and firebush branches. One of the jays lighted on our clothesline, directly in the way of a beam of clear morning sun. His small blue-gray body was sillouehetted and ringed with light.
My mind says, "oh, I'll forget". My spirit says, "The world, in its fervency, has sent another representative. We, the people of the United Fragments of the Soul of Justin, will mull this over for some time, and come back with a decision at a later date. It is never in vain that the world speaks."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Humic Songs

Finally finished the second draft on my second booklet of poetry. It clearly needs a third draft as I read through it, but it is also definitely better than the first. It is teaching me alot about what I believe concerning Human nature, and hopefully giving me insight into characteristics of our Nature which I don't understand, therefore don't believe (am I equating understanding and belief?). If you are interested in a copy, let me know.
The world is beautiful. The air has been so clean and warm this week - blue skies, light green poplar tops, fresh with young leaves. I am currently on the Cornice of the Lustful, with Virgil, Statius, and Dante. There is a discourse going on again on human nature - the coexistence of soul and body.

Out to mow the lawn.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Environmental Ethics & a Yellow Warbler

Basic premise of environmental ethics: nature is mechanistic but has intrinsic value, therefore a moral perspective can be taken when contemplating mens actions within and toward nature. Note: this belief, as you can see, falls apart on its own, and doesn't account for the value of the world.
I was cleaning moss off the awning a couple mornings ago, during a rainstorm - splashing water around with brush and bucket, as torrents of water drummed on the corrugated metal above my head. A squirrel took cover under the awning with me, gnawing on some little seed or pod on the far end of the porch.
This morning I had my first sighting of a yellow warbler. The songs of the professional songsters are so smooth and bright - like shiny gold coins falling in a heap. If you sold the song of this bird, it would be expensive.
The world is beautiful, and the machine theory just doesn't hold up - not to our own being and relationship with nature, nor does it account for the obvious worth and beauty of the world. What keeps people from understanding this? If you think the world is beautiful, if you love creatures specifically, then you are believing tacitly in something more than a random cause and effect machine. You are believing in a designed creation. Be a deist with Antony Flew, but don't kill your own spirit by saying that none of it is real but only matter in motion, and any significance, or particularity, or sense of being and meaning that we feel towards anything is only an illusion for the good of evolution. The little warbler was singing on the branch before I came - he had his own existence there, separate from the branch, bending the air with waves of sparkling sound, before I was there - I did not cause, in my mind, an illusion of his distinct existence. In mechanistic evolution, he and all significant particulars are illusions. Yes, he will be swallowed up into the earth again in not too much time - but for now, magic!, he has been raised up from the grave and sings with his particular brand of birdish personhood.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Firefox & The Beauty of Ideas

Well, I finally switched this computer over to Firefox, so I can once again begin posting. Blogger and Opera are not on friendly terms.
Been thinking about the whole Antony Flew conversion this morning... read a new article about it, his intellectual process, "following the evidence, like Socrates" he says. I am convinced that we are not convinced by reason - rather, that I am not convinced by powerful reasoning, but rather by submission in my soul to ideas. I am neither convinced nor unconvinced by reasoning - instead I stand gaping with abuliac shock at the pearly gates of heaven and earth - to make a step I must submit. What makes a man step one way or another? Dante's two or three discourses on free will in Purgatory by Virgil and some pentient soul in the cornice of the Wrathful have been milling about in my head since last night, and I am excited. Excited because no matter how depressing and heavy they can be, ideas are very beautiful, especially when they hang like stars in your mind above the perfect landscape of space and time.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Humic Songs

I think that I will begin posting my new poetry here, as well as my thoughts, which haven't been frequent, as I have been trying to break from the water-top once again in that never ending wheel of anamnesis.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Portland & Beauty

Qui nous fera voir le bonheur? I feel like a turtle carrying a VW bug on my back, while everyone else is carrying their shell. Is it necessary? This lingual pursuit of the good? Or do we follow Christ by forgetting about Him and doing things in His name? Happy mediums?
I am the unhappy medium.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Testament of Beauty

I have finished the first quarter of this meticulous book of poetry, and I am barely grasping what he is getting at because of the archaic and complex voice he uses. It seems he is making an argument for supernatural being, and for the soul, from the premise of the reality of beauty - either that or describing how the human soul has naturally evolved. I really can't tell. The last section of the first book ends with an exclamation about Jesus Christ, but I can't feel whether it is derisive or humble.
Anybody else out there read this work?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bridges & Pinsky

"Testament of Beauty" by Robert Bridges is a hymnal-twin volume of turn of the century British Laureate poetry - red, raggedy split-end binding. Picked it up at Powell's Books in Portland - saw it & knew that its heart was good.
Pinsky greeted me in the library with plasticized soft-cover binding, but his words are clear enough, and thorough. He hates God for some reason - for the reason that all men hate God: confusion - maybe a dead wife or child, brevity of life and its glaring vanity. Pain. He wrote a poem about the childhood of Jesus, called the same I think, that is clear, and wide-eyed and beautiful, and mocks the Christ with a dark confusion.
Read some Luke this morning. There are words that stack up toward heaven and become more and more like lies as they get higher. And then there are words that as they stack they get thinner and humbler, and more like dirt. Soon like air.
Scrap all of the sophistry, all of the techni-color words, and I know two things with the most basic kind of knowledge I have: that I will die, and that there is beauty. That makes a question. That makes a bubble in my stomach that has turned into a sour rock, hot as a firecoal. It changes my breath into light. I become a magic beast, suffusing smoke and light, rather than a hunkered monkey in a suit.
I will choose to see beauty, and therefore take on the burden of death. And when the burden of death grows too heavy, I will look for someone to take that burden from me - someone with wisdom-lit eyes more full than mine. Someone who can't be easily unwound down to desire, like Buddha's complacency, and Mohammed's bare desire.
Someone who confuses me.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Poet Laureate of the United States

by Ted Kooser

Slap of the screen door, flat knock
of my grandmother's boxy black shoes
on the wooden stoop, the hush and sweep
of her knob-kneed, cotton-aproned stride
out to the edge and then, toed in
with a furious twist and heave,
a bridge that leaps from her hot red hands
and hangs there shining for fifty years
over the mystified chickens,
over the swaying nettles, the ragweed,
the clay slope down to the creek,
over the redwing blackbirds in the tops



Each time I go outside
the world is different.
This has happened all my life.


The clock stopped at 5:30
for three months.
Now it's always time to quit work,
have a drink, cook dinner.


"What I would do for wisdom,"
I cried out as a young man.
Evidently not much. Or so it seems.
Even on walks I follow the dog.


Old friend,
perhaps we work too hard
at being remembered.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday

"Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Morning Coffee & Freud

As I sit sipping coffee this morning, prepping my body for hours in front of a computer screen, I realize that in order to do anything there must be a story. There must be a going - a movement toward some meaningful end - if I am going to be the kind who opens his mind in every moment and says to himself "Oh, and here I am in this moment." Maybe you don't want to do that. For me, its not a matter of want. I am a slave to my self-perception. I always know that I am there. It hasn't always been that way - sometimes there isn't enough language - I have floundered like a fish through a barrel of light to get here. (And who knows if its somewhere worth being? I think that old wing-ed serpentine cherubim had a pretty good perception of his-self).
Freud did too. In "Civilization and it's discontents" he talks about that fact that he perceives himself, and that it is the cause of great pain. I'll have to go back to get references and quotes, but basically he points out that life is pain because (and I am adding to what he says here, massaging) it is self, and knowledge of self, within a futile death-destined system. Basically: "Oh, Look! I am here and I am... oh, &@#!$$"
Freud prescribed, being a doctor, a good medicine for this great pain: distraction. Drugs might work, he says. Sex. He himself distracts himself with Science. Now theres a thing. Science! The great machine of thought, working, working, toward ... death. That was the only destiny marble that Freud carried in his bag.
But then, I am an artist, not a scientist, and I think I know better. I think I see some hazy sort of light when I'm mid-song, or finishing a painting. I hear some truth calling me out in the distance; "Hey! You! Fish there, in a barrel of light! I'm calling you out!"
Distraction doesn't cut it if you hear the calling. Self pops up, and you've got to deal with him.