Saturday, May 10, 2014

thirty years ago in a small movie theatre on Exchange Street Portland Maine

A woman I’d not met in a blue suit asked if I’d be watching the final two installments of the five night Berlin Alexanderplatz.

I said yes.

“Would you tell me about them when I get back from a business trip?”

I said yes.

I did. And did.

Thirty years ago today.

tell your friend if he’s died that he’s died

Shippee dies.

You’ve died.

“Really?” I hear him say.

Yeah, David, really.

“Perfect,” he says.

Eyebrows raised, he moves on.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Ha...fooled again

There is nothing outside.


There is no outside.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

leaving room

Room empties. Semester final class at university; reams of papers to sort through. Close light.

I thought I’d die before completion of course.

For the Anniversary of My Death  

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day   
When the last fires will wave to me 
And the silence will set out 
Tireless traveler 
Like the beam of a lightless star  

Then I will no longer 
Find myself in life as in a strange garment 
Surprised at the earth 
And the love of one woman 
And the shamelessness of men 
As today writing after three days of rain 
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease 
And bowing not knowing to what 
--Poem by W. S. Merwin, “For the Anniversary of My Death” from The Second Four Books of Poems (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1993).
They leave one by one turning in self-assessment. Their presentations symbolize in obvious narrative sensitivity to one another’s voice. They are ethically attuned. Kant and Bentham are left to their deliberations; these students (as Nick said) have embodied the teaching therefore they’ve learned nothing. 

Heads up: it’s not the head that learns.

I arrive home with semi-annual vow: that’s it, no more teaching for me!

Quickly, I remind myself, read their papers, my anniversary approaches.

The surprising earth, a reverent bow, leaving room.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

To listen is to be humbled

Batteries are recharged.

On wall, in socket, no light.

Maybe humanity will not destroy the earth and itself.

Especially not, upon reflection, Itself.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Long breath, short breath; feeling as unforgetting

Face silence with another silence.

Reflecting over and over mirror images of wordless, soundless love.

In water flowing downhill over stones in dark.

Monday, May 05, 2014

my darling nobody; my nobody darling

What does it mean to be dead?

It is to have given one-self for another's well-being.

Be dead in life; be alive in death!

Be Nobody's Darling 

Be nobody's darling; 
Be an outcast. 
Take the contradictions 
Of your life 
And wrap around 
You like a shawl, 
To parry stones 
To keep you warm. 
Watch the people succumb 
To madness 
With ample cheer;  
Let them look askance at you 
And you askance reply. 
Be an outcast;  
Be pleased to walk alone 
Or line the crowded
River beds 
With other impetuous 

On the bank 
Where thousands perished 
For brave hurt words 
They said.  

Be an outcast. 
Qualified to live 
Among your dead. 
Make a merry gathering 
But be nobody's darling;  
Be an outcast.  
Qualified to live Among your dead.
                   (--poem by Alice Walker)
Walking Ragged Snow Bowl in early morning. Sitting zazen in bookshed retreat while another practitioner sat in zendo. Reading Office of Readings, slowly, after.

No one dead; no one alive.

White dog on pallet outside door.

The sitters, one by one, leave their sitting.

One, by one, the curious experience of being (alive).

The odd monk's life -- following Isaac, Esau, and Jacob -- the undead deceptions of ongoing narrative.

Nobody knows -- the rubble -- we've seen.

The wind full of outer space

Is it easier for lovers?
             Ah, they only manage 
                          by being together

to conceal each other's fate! 
           You still don't know? 
                     Throw armfuls of emptiness 

out to the spaces 
            that we breathe --  
                         maybe the birds 

Will sense 
               the expanded air 
                             flying more fervently.
(--from First Elegy, Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. David Young, 1976)

Thirty three years ago, Katherine gave herself to death.

"Pay your sacrifice of thanksgiving to God." (Ps. 50)

"Offer to God the sacrifice of praise." (Antiphonal 2, Office of Readings)

Qui tacet consentire!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Don't bother, I'll see myself out

One can only wonder if there is any chance to rein in the shadowy shenanigans of slippery power off to the side in this country.

Or maybe the nature of political life is deception and further deception.

It's hard to decide whether it is stupidity or sedition at play.

Beyond my pay grade. Which, by the way, is below poverty. Happily, for a mendicant.