Sunday, June 16, 2024

for he could feel the mountains grow

my father moved through dooms of love

                         E. E. Cummings 1894 – 1962

34

my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if (so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who, his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father’s fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer’s keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly (over utmost him
so hugely) stood my father’s dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn’t creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
less humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise 
offered immeasurable is

proudly and (by octobering flame
beckoned) as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he’d laugh and build a world with snow.

My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine, passion willed,
freedom a drug that’s bought and sold

giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear, to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am

though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit, all bequeath

and nothing quite so least as truth
—i say though hate were why men breathe—
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all


-- Copyright © 1940, 1968, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust from The Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, Edited by George J. Firmage.

trees and birds and sky and you

Words matter

Look what The Creator

Did with them

Saturday, June 15, 2024

how do you find god

 Do the right thing

there’s worry we are being recorded

 What you believe is 

what is seen


What is seen  

Is what you believe


No belief

Nothing seen


It is easy 

To love God


There’s nothing 

To it


Love is

Not belief


It sees itself

In what is seen


Nothing

Else

Thursday, June 13, 2024

franciscani

Anthony was 35 when 

he died in Padua in 1231

I think of him today.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

your turn

 Yes

If i had to choose

I’d choose

 Yes

correct(ion)

 All is

(not) lost


this and that


(still)  -- 

 



finding this 


(and) that . . .




nonagenarian


(friend) writes


...        


        --  ion, any atom or group of atoms that bears one or more positive or negative electrical charges. (Britannica)

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

one way or the other

Deo Gratias

Otherwise

Miserere nobis

preghi

 Yes, I pray

For you, for me

I pray we become human

Free, safe, and come to dwell

In our true home… Happily —

What does our “true home” look like?

I suspect we will know it

When we find ourselves in it.

May you find

Yourself well

Within it!

vetus

willing to be old

each day comes and goes, can't help

losing this and that

looking back seeing nothing

looking ahead, nothing there

...

        * vetus, veteris M; [Latin] old, aged, ancient, former, veteran,  experienced, long-standing, chronic

Monday, June 10, 2024

when prophecy ends

Shut up

MU -- Say no

More

Sunday, June 09, 2024

what did illusion say to certainty

If you want to be

Enlightened, go ahead do

It — I’ll just sit here

bridges for inter-cultural communication

Makes you wonder what the 'human-being' makes of, or contributes to, the fact of 'Being-Itself' sounding through our being-human.

Thus one could claim that the lack of an elaborated anthropological vision made Heidegger’s philosophy after the ‘turning’ philosophically anti-Hellenic. The quest for ethics and moral distinctions that have bedeviled the students of his work must be incorporated within a quest for a complete anthropology delineated by his works, an anthropology that would look at Being in its anthropic re-creation of the silence of nature and the absence of god. Only then will the ethical consequences of the “livable” part of his philosophy become apparent and Heidegger’s philosophy regain the moral authority to reveal the essence of being. Heidegger’s philosophy is arguably the most daring hypothesis about the human condition in recent centuries; yet his answers somehow do not do justice to the questions he poses and show the unredeemed debt that he himself owed to his society, class and personality. Yet the hypothesis remains valid and still spurs thinking on; indeed it makes philosophical thinking immerse itself into the ‘thick questions’ of the mind and helps reformulate important aspects of the European tradition. Indeed, Heidegger’s thought has stimulated great Japanese thinkers like Keiji Nishitani, Nishida Kitaro and Masao Abe and has contributed to the re- interpretation of Dogen and to a degree of Nagarjuna himself. Thus it builds bridges for inter-cultural communication that express a new understanding of the anthropic in history. The cross-pollination of his philosophy leads to a new anthropological vision of being in history and time above and beyond the cultural limits of the philosopher’s origins. For to philosophise does not simply mean to ask “why there are beings rather than nothing?” but “why beings that are experience nothing?”. Then Being ceases to be mute and becomes the true being of the human presence.

 (--in, Heidegger and the Aesthetics of Living, xv, Edited by Vrasidas Karalis, 2008) 

Perhaps it is our 'coming to word' that creates, organizes, and causes to emerge into appearance that which is hidden and that which is not-yet and coming-to-be into what we might call the 'umwelt of now.'

Our contemporary culture suffers an aphasia that stifles authentic communication which might build and nourish out and away from decadent morbidity and caustic rhetoric of decimation, elimination, and ostracization. 

Do we not long for an aesthetic eloquent in creativity, compassion, and cooperating community toward wholesome interrelationality and open-hearted caring?

I do!

And you, too!

Saturday, June 08, 2024

se ci sia un altro modo, non lo so

 yes

to everything

all the time

no matter what


(it's simply

the way to 

see one's

way clear)


...

    * whether there is another way, I don't know

mirar dentro

 Sacred Heart of Jesus 

Immaculate Heart of Mary —

There might be a hint here

How fare our hearts?


...

    * look inside

Friday, June 07, 2024

what is going on

 This

Whole

Time


(Yes, 

That’s

It)

watching with wonder and worry

 Rainy Friday morning

Two baby loon on hosmer pond

Their watery home

Thursday, June 06, 2024

can I still be joyful whilst not optimistic

 I don't buy it. The over-the-top reckless acclamations of revenge and vituperative governance if elected again. I don't buy it. 

I worry about assassination. I worry someone has decided it would be good for rightwing uprising if the titular frontrunner were to be mowed down by an ambiguous assassin. I worry the rightwing would rather sacrifice the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party and reap the forensic fury to the detriment of maligned and misidentified parties as stooges in the planned misdirection of the crime.

But this worry comes from reading these days about violence, the collapse of civilizations, and the weirdness of consciousness. [cf. 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed: Revised and Updated, by Eric H. Cline (2021); The Weirdness of the World, by Eric Schwitzgebel (2024); and Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads by Gil Bailie (1996).] About the latter:

This is a Girardian-influenced, engagingly written classic on the nature of violence and the hope for overcoming it in our conflict-ridden world. It is also a literary work, an often miraculous interplay between cultural documents and historical periods. (Amazon)

The current political babel about vengeance, retribution, mass arrests and deportations, ending immigration, freeing of criminals and flirtation with despotic dictatorship might be a parody carnival-act on the part of a desperate man. 

But it's a script of a bad movie when shadowy characters decide to sacrifice one man for the good of the party and the future of a manufactured crisis. We are witnessing the zombie-like rogues-gallery backdrop to the master of ceremonies' complaint and victimization monologues following 34 felony convictions. 

Like ghouls at an execution they salivate the prospect of being second fiddle to the chief prevaricator as he whittles his way into a mythic scenario of being crucified for the good of the people and the sins of the opposition party.  Is he playing the role too well? Is he being steered into a dark alley to be accosted, mugged, and left for dead in a murky drama of horrific violence?

The comedy becomes a tragedy. 

The nation will be shocked.

Sanity will be compromised.

Chaos will be cultivated.

It will be called "A Time for Retrieving Our Constitutional Footing."

All the crazies who've appropriated the legislative, judicial, and executive functions of our once nascent democracy will declare the experiment too ambitious, too unrealistic, too marxist/socialist, too unchristian and too aufgewacht (woke) for our Schläfrig (sleepy) country.

What do I think?

I hope the carnival continues. I don't want any resolution that entails violence or extra-judicial action. Let Trump be Trump. The people will tire of him. And his entourage? They will drift away to other cons and grifts and become entrepreneurs of entropy grinding down the alacrity and energy of a yet-to-emerge populace from its infancy.

Can I still be joyful whilst not optimistic?

Sure I can.

Pass me the next book, please.

salut et louange du ventre de ma mère

Eighty years ago

In third trimester — drear beach

In Normandy France —

So many gave their lives — sand

waves, fear, blood — fighting for life

…  …   …

     * salvation and praise from my mother's womb

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

out with dog

Stars off bald mountain

How far away are they — near

Just beyond loon call

not perception, perspective

 This is not reality

Yes it is


This is not really reality

Yes it is


This is not ultimate reality

Wait — 


What are you

Looking at


(Encore) This is not

What I am


Looking at

It’s what I am


What I am

Looking…

how we go on

Nuns chant psalms

They are in France


I listen to their tones

I am in Maine


Morning comes and day begins 

this fourth day of the week


Perhaps there will be

No assassinations today


Unlike fifty six years ago

In California near Midnight

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Monday, June 03, 2024

if we stay at the horizontal level of calculating

 In prison this morning we wondered about thought being pre-physical.

True thought is pre-physical. This is the thinking behind the thinking, the consciousness behind our small ability to plug into it. If we stay at the horizontal level of calculating, judging, and labeling, we wont plug into it very well because we dont really believe in it. Many of us dont really believe theres anything spiritual beyond this material body. (--Richard Rohr)

Five of us considered the prospect of return to the source. 

And whether Christ is actually the cosmos.

Sunday, June 02, 2024

in the heart of every atom

Today in the Christian calendar is the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. It got me thinking. What if the body of Christ were the very earth. The very cosmos itself?  Would that realization be an insight, a faith, that transcends anything that any religion, church, or dharma has previously taught? 

The historical Buddha and the historical Jesus each walked the earth in their day, but it is the living Buddha mind and the Cosmic, or resurrected, Christ that are present among us today. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the “ontological Buddha, the Buddha at the center of the universe,” which echoes the Cosmic Christ “in the heart of every atom,” as Teilhard de Chardin puts it. I see the Cosmic Christ archetype as a parallel concept to that of buddhanature, or Buddha mind.

It is easy for Christians to forget that the oldest understanding of Christ is as the Cosmic Christ, which predates the Nicene Creed by three centuries. Paul called the Cosmic Christ “the pattern that connects,” which “holds all things together in the heavens and on the earth,” and is the “light in all beings.” (—in Ultimately the Same, by Matthew Fox, Oct 2022 Lion’s Roar)

Maybe Jesus didn’t just come to earth. Maybe he came as earth. 

Buddha as Being.

Christ as creation.

corpus christi

 I look at body of christ

There outside window

First light through cool air


I look as body of Christ

Here inside room

Turn off light; telling beads


Wavering leaves

Dance with dawn breath

Christ’s body with bare feet

Saturday, June 01, 2024

believe me because you are wrong

We live upside down. It doesn't occur to us that we are living upside down. But we are.

It is a curious fact. But a fact nonetheless. We live upside down.

Bad is good. My flaws are really your flaws. I am perfect, you are crooked. I am pure, you are corrupt.

Do you see? Can you feel how this is going? Do you recognize how you have been so unaware?

If I commit crimes I am being persecuted. If found guilty for those crimes every one who pointed it out, laid out the facts, deliberated the details, judged the proceedings -- all of these people are liars, evil, conflicted, against me, and wrong.

In is out. Up is down. Bad is good. Everything is silly putty and magic marker. You are not you. Only I am I.

There are marvelous teachers lecturing the populace as to what it is like to live upside down.

They are ordinary citizens, elected officials, members of house and senate, those sitting on the highest court.

God is not in his/her heaven and all is not right with the world.

And here we are. 

No amount of education or study of history contributes anything to the alertness of the citizenry. It has all been edited and re-education into correct thinking has become a full-time job for the deranging rearranging of what we thought we knew into how we now must think.

We live upside down.

Be glad the torture has not yet begun.

Postscript: Some say there have been those who came to us to tell us we've been living upside down. You know their names. 

Right?

You do know their names, don't you?

Friday, May 31, 2024

what lives is what he left in air

In prison this morning: 

Farmer, Dying

                for Hank and Nancy


Seven thousand acres of grass have faded yellow

from his cough. These limp days, his anger,

legend forty years from moon to Stevensville,

lives on, just barely, in a Great Falls whore.

Cruel times, he cries, cruel winds. His geese roam

unattended in the meadow. The gold last leaves

of cottonwoods ride Burnt Fork creek away.

His geese grow fat without him. Same old insult.

Same indifferent rise of mountains south,

hunters drunk around the fire ten feet from his fence.


What's killing us is something autumn. Call it

war or fever. You know it when you see it: flare.

Vine and fire and the morning deer come half

a century to sip his spring, there, at the far end

of his land, wrapped in cellophane by light.

What lives is what he left in air, definite,

unseen, hanging where he stood the day he roared.

A bear prowls closer to his barn each day.

Farmers come to watch him die. They bring crude offerings

of wine. Burnt Fork creek is caroling. He dies white

in final anger. The bear taps on his pane.


And we die silent, our last days loaded with the scream

of Burnt Fork creek, the last cry of that raging farmer.

We have aged ourselves to stone trying to summon

mercy for ungrateful daughters. Let's live him

in ourselves, stand deranged on the meadow rim

and curse the Baltic back, moon, bear and blast.

And let him shout from his grave for us.

(--Poem by Richard Hugo) 

The poet and the subject, the man and the land, the reader and the conversation.

"Let's live him in ourselves..." 

Thursday, May 30, 2024

twelve ordinary citizens

Unusual day

thirty four felony votes --

justice finds its way

for something to be possible or necessary

Reading Apeirogon, A Novel, by Colum McCann, c.2020:

In geometry, an apeirogon (from Ancient Greek ἄπειρος apeiros 'infinite, boundless', and γωνίαgonia 'angle') or infinite polygon is a polygon with an infinite number of sides. Apeirogons are the rank 2 case of infinite polytopes.  (--wikipedia)

 In it, this:

The term mayday -- coined in England in 1923, but derived from the French, venez m'aider, come to my aid --is always repeated three times, mayday, mayday, mayday. The repetition is vital: if said only once it could possibly be misinterpreted, but said three times in a row, it cannot be mistaken. (p.20)

In undergraduate philosophy I especially enjoyed the obscure enticement of the Metaphysics classes. 

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the basic structure of reality. It is often characterized as first philosophy, implying that it is more fundamental than other forms of philosophical inquiry. Metaphysics is traditionally seen as the study of mind-independent features of the world, but some modern theorists understand it as an inquiry into the conceptual schemes that underlie human thought and experience.

Many general and abstract topics belong to the subject of metaphysics. It investigates the nature of existence, the features all entities have in common, and their division into categories of being. An influential contrast is between particulars, which are individual unique entities, like a specific apple, and universals, which are general repeatable entities that characterize particulars, like the color redModal metaphysics examines what it means for something to be possible or necessary. The nature of space, time, and change is also discussed by metaphysicians. A closely related issue concerns the essence of causality and its relation to the laws of nature. Other topics include how mind and matter are related, whether everything in the world is predetermined, and whether there is free will.           (Wikipedia)

It was the 1960's. Assassinations were startlingly familiar. The Vietnam War was biting at the heels of draft-age young men. Society and culture felt fragile. The traditional spectrum of life or vocation choices seemed irrelevant. The professor wrote on the board each class "Being is; non-being is not."

Camus' Cahiers and Sartre's Being and Nothingness, Heidegger's Being and Time and Martin Esslin's The Theatre of the Absurd --  teetered me towards D.T. Suzuki's books of Zen Buddhism; then Aurobindo, and Alan Watts' entertaining explorations of Hinduism, Taoism, and the Taboo of self knowledge. It was heady and oftentimes obscuring. Thales, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Anaximander, Anaximines. This while studying Rahner, Pannenberg, Kung, Schillebeeckx, Macquarrie, Richardson, Tracy and other theologians. I read John Wu's Beyond East and West, Thomas Merton's works, Daniel and Phillip Berrigans' writings, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata, as well as Japanese and Chinese poetry.

The nature and structure of reality has remained an interest.


As does mind and consciousness. So too the creative nature of intuition and imagination.


I was surrounded by poets, artists, intellectuals, and characters of all stripes and persuasion. 


Still am.


Happy to be so,


...surrounded.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

much appall about nothing

 When I enter god

There is no time 


No space

Just interval


A nowhere

Neither proceeding


Nor departing 

Mere hypostasis*


...   ...   ...

 *  Hypostasis (plural: hypostases), from the Greek ὑπόστασις (hypóstasis), is the underlying, fundamental state or substance that supports all of reality. It is not the same as the concept of a substance. In Neoplatonism, the hypostasis of the soul, the intellect (nous) and "the one" was addressed by Plotinus.[1] In Christian theology, the Holy Trinity consists of three hypostases: that of the Father, that of the Son, and that of the Holy Spirit.[2].     (--wikipedia)

this tiny respite

 Twelve citizens are 

deliberating

in trial of Mr. Trump --

for a brief few seconds

things are unknown and up

in the air --

it might be the only stretch

that casts doubt on his

becoming next president

of the United States --

savor this unknowing,

this lacuna, 

the future will become

one known thing after 

another -- we will have no

doubt

and stare unblinking at

a fog wall of irreconcilable 

misalliance

The term philology is derived from the greek φιλολογία (philología)

It occurs to me after years of teaching philosophy and ethics at university that my so-called actual field of study and interest is philology. This became apparent two years ago when working with some college students who reside in prison to create courses for the university that we called 'turtles all the way down.' 

An inmate scholar would create with faculty member (myself) a course which is co-taught to student scholars, After completion of the study for college credit members of the class would then facilitate non-academic groups inviting other inmates to four to eight week conversation groups incorporating the material of the study into the ordinary interests/concerns of the participating population.

 The term philology is derived from the Greek φιλολογία (philología),[7] from the terms φίλος (phílos) 'love, affection, loved, beloved, dear, friend' and λόγος (lógos) 'word, articulation, reason', describing a love of learning, of literature, as well as of argument and reasoning, reflecting the range of activities included under the notion of λόγος. The term changed little with the Latin philologia, and later entered the English language in the 16th century, from the Middle French philologie, in the sense of 'love of literature'.

The adjective φιλόλογος (philólogos) meant 'fond of discussion or argument, talkative', in Hellenistic Greek, also implying an excessive ("sophistic") preference of argument over the love of true wisdom, φιλόσοφος (philósophos). (--wikipedia)

It was ambitious. Several of the men were engaged in graduate studies of their own. The structure of the university/prison partnership fell apart for reasons I, as an outsider, could not discern. So we continue, as we have for the last 25+ years, our weekly open conversations at the prison (now also at the Farm) for general population. We call them meetingbrook conversation. Many of the men call it the philosophy group. There's poetry, philosophy, politics, spirituality, theology, meditation mindfulness, personal issues, addiction and recovery, anthropology and archeology, systems thinking, and whatever comes up from week to week.

I realize it is about words. How we contain our experience in worded expression, exploring the meaning of the words we use, configuring experience and emotion as conveyance to others of the deep hidden artifact we call self/mind/soul.

Last evening's Tuesday conversation (introduced by Eli, Doris' grandson) wondered about the twin ideologies of goddess culture and warrior culture as spoken about by Marija Gimbutas. What if the goddess/warrior issue was not a gender/biological difference but, rather, an ideological/consciousness divide that persists to this day? Are we better off as a species when we incorporate, include, and assist one another? Or, when we divide, conquer, and eliminate one another?

If goddess culture means bringing to birth, nurturing and nourishing one another; and warrior culture means overcoming, possessing, and dominating one another -- I'm more interested in the ethos and the philology of the goddess.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

he's back from walk, she's welcoming him



war dead meet in counsel

 Where there is war comes

Suffering and heartache — change

now  --  embody peace

Monday, May 27, 2024

this memorial day…

We remember, honor, and pray for all those dead and deadened by war.


(Photo by s.h.)

Sunday, May 26, 2024

emergence/trinity

 Being 

     As One Itself

      Origin/Source


Expression

     As Creation

      Incarnate/Compassion


Realization

     As Enkindling

      Showing/Way

Saturday, May 25, 2024

totally identical with everything

We are what we are by not being what we are not. But what we are not is so easy to be. We do not know how to have both sides of a coin face the same way. Nor, perhaps, should they. Perhaps what we've come to call wholeness is the appreciation that nothing is (not) left out. 

When Heidegger asked the question Leibniz asked "Why is there something rather than nothing?" he identified the question as pivotal to philosophy and metaphysics.

Perhaps something is because nothing is. Our dividing rational mind doesn't know what to do with undivided wholeness.

Emptiness and openness are the self-same coin. Perhaps all we can do is be flipped and flip-out, be flapped and unflappable at the same time, fix and be unfixed simultaneously.

Imagine God being not-God. What then is God? 

In "Kenotic God and Dynamic Sunyata" [Maseo] Abe asserts that the aim of dialogue should be mutual transformation, which will deepen both Christian and Buddhist spirituality so that both faiths may overcome antireligious ideologies, especially Nietzschean nihilism and scientism. Working from his own religious experience and textual study, Abe offers two presentations of the ultimate religious ground. One is the "emptying God," that is, the complete kenosis not only of Christ, but of God, a kenosis necessitated by God's all-embracing love. The other is "dynamic Sunyata" which does not remain transcendent Sunyata, but ceaselessly and at every moment empties itself, thus becoming a "boundless openness" that contains both wisdom and the compassionate "vow and act" to enlighten all beings. Abe quotes the Prajnaparamita sutra as a succinct expression of his position on the nature of Sunyata: "Sunyata is non-Sunyata (asunyata); therefore it is ultimate Sunyata (atyanta-Sunyata)" (Emptying God, p. 27). In a paraphrase of this important Buddhist scripture, Abe summarizes his vision of the Kenotic God:

God is not God (for God is love and completely self-emptying); precisely because God is not a self-affirmative God, God is truly a God of love (for through complete self-abnegation God is totally identical with everything including sinful humans) (Emptying God, p. 16).

        (--in Two Buddhist-Jewish-Christian Conversations Review EssayAaron Gross, Watson Fellow, Katmandu,  Nepal) 

Morning sun and cool air through screen door this early Saturday Wohnküche sitting.

We are what we are not and (perhaps mistakenly) think such seeming contradiction is unworthy making. Rather, I suspect, the question we might better be asking is how is it that something is nothing and nothing is something? How is it God is complete(ly) with us and we do not realize it?

My job right now is to fill birdfeeders. 

Each husk becomes empty. Each bird, chipmunk, squirrel becomes full. That which is empty is full, that which is full is empty.

The good nuns at Neumz are in my ear. Kyrie eleison!

Friday, May 24, 2024

this brings us to us

 Today in prison:

Making Certain It Goes On

by. Richard Hugo


At last the Big Blackfoot river

has risen high enough to again cover the stones

dry too many months. Trout return

from summer harbor deep in the waters

of the power company dam. High on the bank

where he knows the river won’t reach

the drunk fisherman tries to focus on

a possible strike, and tries to ignore

the hymn coming from the white frame church.

The stone he leans against, bleached out dull gray,

underwater looked beautiful and blue.

The young minister had hoped for a better parish,

say one with bells that sound gold

and a congregation that doesn’t stop coming

when the mill shuts down.


We love to imagine

a giant bull trout or a lunker rainbow

will grab the drunk fisherman’s bait

and shock the drunk fisherman out

of his recurrent afternoon dream and into

the world of real sky and real water.

We love to imagine the drought has ended,

the high water will stay, the excess

irrigate crops, the mill reopen, the workers

go back to work, lovers reassume plans

to be married. One lover, also the son

of the drunk fisherman, by now asleep

on the bank for no trout worth imagining

has come, will not invite his father

to the happy occasion though his father

will show up sober and properly dressed,

and the son will no longer be sure of the source

of the shame he has always rehearsed.


Next summer the river will recede,

the stones bleach out to

their dullest possible shade. The fisherman

will slide bleary down the bank

and trade in any chance he has of getting

a strike for some old durable dream,

a dream that will keep out the hymn

coming again from the church. The workers

will be back full shift. The power company

will lower the water in the dam

to make repairs, make repairs and raise rates.

The drunk fisherman will wait for the day

his son returns, divorced and bitter

and swearing revenge on what the old man

has come to believe is only water

rising and falling on climatic schedule.


That summer came and is gone. And everything

we predicted happened, including the death

of the fisherman. We didn’t mention that before,

but we knew and we don’t lie to look good.

We didn’t forsee the son would never return.


This brings us to us, and our set lines

set deep on the bottom. We’re going all out

for the big ones. A new technology

keeps the water level steady year round.

The company dam is self cleaning.

In this dreamy summer air you and I

dreamily plan a statue commemorating

the unknown fisherman. The stone will bear

no inscription and that deliberate anonymity

will start enough rumors to keep

the mill operating, big trout nosing the surface,

the church reforming white frame

into handsome blue stone, and this community

going strong another hundred years.


[from MAKING CERTAIN IT GOES ON, The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo, W.W. Norton & Company]

Around the table, keen interest.  

We listen for the river.

We speak with one another.