Saturday, March 14, 2020

fifteen march tomorrow, and all is not well

The oracle resounds

across the public square --

Beware the


of March!

sequestered, yet simpatico

I can hear singing from the White House Residence -- "O Sole Mio!" 

And the echoing refrain from Number One Observatory Circle 2.5 miles away -- "Tutti quanti bello!"

Oh, the evening seranade cascading the empty streets and equally empty promise between these two!

we’ll see

The millionaire who founded the credit card bank had a yacht named “So far, so good.”
It could have been the medieval theologian’s definition of God.

Today his mansion on the hill overlooking the bay is a treatment center for wealthy folks with alcohol addiction difficulties. “One deity at a time” might be a contemporary definition of God.

I have no definition of God.

If I did —

Mine could be Geraldine’s logion “What you see is what you get.”

Or Wittgenstein’s “Don’t think, look.”

We’ll see. . . 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

simply put

the more affection

Something from Trappist monastery:
"It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say, because I come to see who I am."Photograph by Brother Brian. Lines by Thomas Merton
Merton reminds me there is, often, a wide difference between what words we choose to say about who we are and what we actually are once words look around and walk away.

The only time, it seems, we near who and what we actually are is when we fall into silence surrounded by nothing diverting nothing draping us from inconspicuous and undisclosed manifestation of our field of emptiness wherein only what-is-itself resides within-itself as-itself revealing itself as a whole without division a whole within an all-encompassing realization of  ji-ji-mu-ge* and tat-tvam-asi.**  

...   ...   ...
* “I can have the feeling ‘self’ only in relations to, and by contrast with, the feeling ‘other.’  In the same way, I am what I am only in relation to what everything else is.  The Japanese call this ji-ji-mu-ge, which means that between every thing-event (ji) and every other thing-event there is no (mu) barrier (ge).  Each implies all, and all implies each.”
(—Alan Watts) 
** On hearing this reply from his son, the father (Uddalaka) slowly explained to him using simple examples: "Son! Have you not seen the clay in front of the potter's house? It becomes a pot in the hands of the potter. If the clay is known, then all things made of clay are known! Similarly if you know gold, things made of gold like ornaments are known. If you know iron, all things made of iron are known. In the same way, if you know "Brahman" then all the things (the entire universe) that cannot exist without Him are also known." He continued his teaching and concluded with the statement, tat tvam asi. In very simple terms, tat represents brahman and tvam identifies the divine soul (Atman) that resides ‘within’ the jIva. asi is an affirmation equating Brahman and Atman. In very subtle terms, Uddalaka tells us that by knowing the SELF (Self-realization) we will be able to recognize the entire Universe because of the fact that the Universe cannot exist without the presence of Brahman. It is just like saying there will not be a pot without clay and there will be no more golden ring without the gold! Sri Adi Shankara interprets "tat tvam asi" to mean "The jIva and brahman are identical so that there is no difference between the Atman of jIva and Brahman. Sri Adi Shankara correctly assumes the "svarUpa aikyam" that is the absolute identity between the jIvAtman and the paramAtman (brahman).

this poem in a time for poetry

 A poet today sends this poem by Lynn Ungar (3/11/20):

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down. 
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch. 
Promise this world your love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live 

     (Poem by Lynn Ungar, 3/11/20) 

hoop-less and hope-fraught

Watching the stock market.

All my money is tied up in peanut butter, pretzels, and english muffins.

Half of my wealth is still half of nothing.

I don’t wish to sound insensitive. But there’s nothing there.

It is, however, painful to listen to and read the petty swipes clawed at Europe, Democrats, China, and the politicians who seem more irrelevant than ever.

It used to peeve me when trump would boast and posture and act like a snide drunk. Now he just seems an also ran in an unimportant foot race. We look beyond him.

I listen to Joseph Campbell pieces gathered into book, Myths to Live By. Some light in a shadowed time! Myth and symbol, story and wisdom are so welcome in this time of scary feeble minded schoolyard banter.

My patience has run out. So little integrity and courage!

I buy more chocolate milk. Jam. Yoghurt. And Annie’s soup.

My prayer life comprises of saying Oh s^~t, and what the f*#k?  It is a litany and mantra practice that must be done in solitude. (There’s so much about prayer that is apophatic!)

I’m not much company. But then, I never was. When someone mentions my name the standard response is — Who? And, why?


Care for one another, eh? Just try it!

With no NBA nor March Madness and no Europeans for a month — what else is there to do?

end in itself

Ask anyone whether we need monitoring and surveillance and mostly you will, reluctantly, hear -- Yes, we do!

What is the difficulty in keeping tabs on ourselves, setting moral direction, and remaining ethical and moral beings?
Whether we are writing poetry or constructing arguments, playing sports or baking cakes, we human beings are governed by laws we impose on ourselves. But of all the forms that self-government takes, one has been singled out for special philosophical attention, perhaps because it appears to underlie all the rest. This is the self-governed (and self-governing) activity we call “making up one’s own mind about how to act.” It is generally agreed that our capacity to do this is quite a marvelous evolutionary achievement. Indeed, many believe that being able to determine one’s own will is intrinsically valuable—an “end in itself” whose value does not depend on anything else. For this reason, they say, self-governing (“autonomous”) agency has deep moral signif-icance: autonomy is both the source of fundamental rights and the key to understanding what these rights are and what we must do to acknowledge them.1
The suggestion that there is a link between autonomy and morality is highly plausible. If we really do have a moral status that distinguishes us from all other animals, then on what can this status depend if not on the fact that we alone are not mere pawns of nature, at the mercy of our instincts? If we are especially worthy of respect, then mustn’t this be because we alone can and do decide for ourselves whether and how our inclinations are really worth satisfying? If there are limitations on how we can justifiably treat one another, then isn’t this, in part, because, independent of our more particular concerns, it is a good thing for each of us to determine our own will? 
(--from, Valuing Autonomy and Respecting Persons: Manipulation, Seduction, and the Basis of Moral Constraints*, by Sarah Buss, Ethics 115 (January 2005): 195–235, 2005 by The University of Chicago.)
When we encounter people in our houses, on our streets, in corporations, or in government leadership positions who are untrustworthy, egoistically driven to the point of self-serving actions instead of the good of others -- we soberly reflect on the need for controls, checks, holding accountable, taking off the streets.

What codes, what laws, can we lay out for ourselves that would obviate the need for strong and rigid correctives coming from an overseeing authority? Or, is such a question naive? Are we, by nature, untrustworthy? Or, is something else at play?

Here's my poem:
I see  
is mine
you can have it 
I only ask 
your measured 
and to be 
to find 
in itself 

a lively interest

Are these the Europeans who will be remaining in Europe for the next month?
So let us not place any particular value on the city's name. Like all big cities it was made up of irregularity, change, forward spurts, failures to keep step, collisions of objects and interests, puncated by unfathomable silences; made up of pathways and untrodden ways, of one great rhythmic beat as well as the chronic discord and mutual displacement of all its contending rhythms. All in all, it was like a boiling bubble inside a pot made of the durable stuff of buildings, laws, regulations, and historical traditions. 
The two people who were walking up one of its wide, bustling avenues naturally were not thinking along these lines. They clearly belonged to a privileged social class, with their distinguished bearing, style of dress, and conversation, the initials of their names embroidered on their underwear, and just as discreetly, which is to say not for outward show but in the fine underwear of their minds, they knew who they were and that they belonged in a European capital city and imperial residence. Their names might have been Er- melinda.Tuzzi and Amheim-but then, they couldn't be, because in August Frau Tuzzi was still in Bad Aussee with her husband and Dr. Amheim was still in Constantinople; so we are left to wonder who they were. People who take a lively interest in what goes on often wonder about such puzzling sights on the street, but they soon forget them again, unless they happen to remember during their next few steps where they have seen those other two before. The pair now came to a sudden stop when they saw a rapidly gathering crowd in front of them. Just. a moment earlier something there had broken ranks; falling sideways with a crash, something had spun around and come to a skidding halt - a heavy truck, as it turned out, which had braked so sharply that it was now stranded with one wheel on the curb. Like bees clustering around the entrance to their hive people had instantly surrounded a small spot on the pavement, which they left open in their midst. paper, clumsily waving his arms as he tried to explain the accident. The glances of the newcomers turned to him, then warily dropped to the bottom of the hole where a man who lay there as if dead had been bedded against the curb. It was by his own carelessness that he had come to grief, as everyone agreed. People took turns kneeling beside him, vaguely wanting to help; unbuttoning his jacket, then closing it again; trying to prop him up, then laying him down again. They were really only marking time while waiting for the ambulance to bring someone who would know what to do and have the right to do it.
(—p.4-5, part I,  THE MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES, by Robert Musil)
We must wonder about the truck driver, the couple, the awaited ambulance, and, of course, the man down whose carelessness consisted in being where he was when Herr Uncertain appeared to say ”hello, I’m here, do you mind, no need to bother, yes, I’ll stay awhile, then, you know, go.”

easy, pass

They build high speed E-ZPass in York Maine turnpike. Big job. Soon we’ll be having our intentions scanned.

Colleges send students packing as spring break comes saying classes will resume online, don’t come back here until...

Professional basketball suspends games as season stalls prohibiting large crowds from assembling. Will LeBron still be named MVP?

College basketball tournaments and March Madness will occur to empty arenas with only tv cameras.

In Italy stores close.

Travel from Europe to US is suspended for 30 days. Except for exceptions. Goods and money only. Starting Friday midnight.

The president and right wing commentators momentarily suspend sharing their opinions that coronavirus is a left wing plot to remove him from office. Fake. Hoax. Somehow, Obama.

Meanwhile, silence deepens within this space wherein I dwell.

Liverpool loses at home.

Tom Hanks and wife announce they’ve tested positive.

We’re all bohemian now. Coffee and newspaper, an affect of pas de problème that looks hard and insouciantly at the inevitability of whatever will occur. I straighten my beret. I walk the boulevard.  I’d smoke ‘em if I had ‘em, but I don’t.

The border collie decides that insanity is the only saving grace responding to the terrifying ordinariness of the world he encounters outside his very busy mind and nervous system.

For however long I might be able to survive on peanut butter, english muffins and coffee.

I will be cremated and the coffee creamated. All my possessions will go to Good Will. I tried to have good will these past decades. I was an inconspicuous and nondescript failure.

Il n’y a  pas de quoi.

Dog is asleep across my legs.

Charles Olson wrote “There is no intelligence / the equal / of the situation.”

We have a situation here.

What we need is a good idea.

And yet...there are no ideas but in things.

And things are made of words.

And words are where silence hides in plain sight.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


Pandemic gets notice.

I pray all remain safe.

One day one person at a time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

home, home on the range

In the dream I visit an artist on deathbed. A small bedroom on top floor. I bow.

I remain befuddled. Talk to woman outside. His death years before was not his death. It was faked. He’d been here in this large old house. Very few knew.

She drives away in a banged up yellow orange amphibious vehicle. Tall wood ladder leans against house. I think it is mine.

I cannot find the person I came with.

One of the passthrough rooms upstairs is built into bedrock.

Looking back on dream I am aware I have no wish or hope for there to be something, some life, after death.

Let all familiarity, all knowing, all memory be extinguished. No reward. No punishment.

I recall in the dream passing children. A young boy is looking for something. We look to the sky. I sing, “and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

finger-wagging experience

After watching Death of a President, Kanopy, a mockumentary from British filmmaker Gabriel Range, this comment 
Assassinations are troubling and abhorrent. I'm glad this didn't happen. Still, the aftermath and the mentality of those empowered to exercise so-called justice resonates recognizably. In real politics Cheney was frightening in his single-minded obsession. And while Bush has become again the country boy regular fella with Texas charm, it is a reminder of the anguish and disbelief of a vanity war with its sorrowful deaths and ruined psyches of veterans. We remain a nation of profoundly skeptical and deeply distrustful people. Witness the current example of political meshugana in Washington DC.
The Iraq incursion, the Afghanistan never-ending debacle, the protests, the troubling deaths there and returning suffering here, the industry of mercenary killing and defense bonanza -- these have entered our national bloodstream like a slow and deadly virus effectuating a lack of confidence and bizarre behavior in leaders and political posturing.

The aftershock continues.

I wish Bush well.

I wish Cheney well.

I wish the families suffering through loss and ptsd a healing recovery.

And to the deranged misleading ethos rifling our system of government operative today -- I wish a speedy exit and finger-wagging experience in the future.

Don't forget the things that were done. Don't forget the names of those responsible. Mostly, don't forget those we have seen, and still see, before our eyes, with mournful remembrance.
All’s misalliance.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.
(--from poem, Epilogue, by Robert Lowell) 

just before stepping on apm*

Gate closed. Mud softens. Raw air.

Silence reveals nothing.

I listen.

Cannot hear any-


Blood beats left ear.

Sound of no-

thing.  Coney Island

was end of line,

Sea Beach train.

West End seemed

more interesting

alternative. Not his kind

of people, left handed

catcher said about new

york party.  He was right.

I have letter from Vietnam

saying how

lucky we were

...   ...   ...

          * anti-personnel mine

Monday, March 09, 2020

put it all down

There’s a virus. And, we’re all gonna die!

Those two sentences, while true, are not necessarily related to each other.

Enough of pretending and tap dancing.

Take a quiet walk instead.

table koan

‪If love is all there is — the very core and whole of existence, ‬

‪And we don’t believe we are in love —‬

‪Where do we think we are?‬

how are you?* have you eaten?**

      to go

Take out
      with seconds

      took ease

      dow no ching


        sine compos mentis

         your shoo(s).

          hao ma?   ni2hao3ma5*

          chi le ma? ni3chi1le5ma5 **

Sunday, March 08, 2020

of a sunday afternoon

Lighting fire in yurt.

Sunlight through trees alongside brook.

Barking dog wants sticks I gather for wood stove.
All things love each other. All nature is oriented toward a thou. All beings are alive in communion with each other. All plants, all animals, all beings are fraternally united by the phenomenon of mimesis. There are insects which mimic flowers and flowers which act like insects, animals which resemble water or rocks or desert sand or snow or woodlands or certain other animals. And thus all beings love each other and feed each other, and are united in a gigantic process of birth and growth and reproduction and death. In nature everything undergoes mutation, transformation, and change, everything embraces, caresses, and kisses. And the laws which rule all animate beings and to which inert nature is also subject (for nature, too, is alive and animated by a life that is imperceptible to us) are variants of the one law of love. All physical phenomena are likewise manifestations of the identical phenomenon of love. The cohesion of a snowflake and the explosion of a nova, the tumble-bug that clings to a heap of dung, and the lover who embraces his beloved, manifest the same phenomenon of love. Everything in nature seeks to transcend its own limits, to go beyond the barriers of its individuality, to meet with a thou to which it can give itself, an “other” into which it can transform itself. The laws of thermodynamics and electrodynamics, the laws of the propulsion of light, and the universal law of gravity are all manifestations of the one law of Love 
(—Ernesto Cardenal, Excerpt from: "From the Monastery to the World: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Ernesto Cardenal" by Thomas Merton. Scribd.
Down road neighbor cuts logs for later splitting. At Snow Bowl skiers sound enjoyment and excitement.

Sitting in gritty plastic adirondack in front of pocked screen door of green yurt there is no other sound than the sounds coming to me.  Even the border collie tires of sounding his desire.

Picture of the man who died at dinner table in Florida hangs behind lattice above woodbox inside yurt door. Aviator sunglasses of the man who put the picture there before departing to France and Russia hang by east-facing window. Mice have taken edges of cloth cover on crescent teak table next to black office chair near bed.

I repair dooryard gate, hang sign and small garden flag, tie on bell-buoy clanker and cow bell to arm holding "meetingbrook" sign knocked down last autumn by delivery truck, lace green fencing wire with white cord found in field to wood slats of hefty gate, place red candle-lantern ready for tonight's practice.

"All physical phenomena are likewise manifestations of the identical phenomenon of love" says Ernesto Cardenal. Seems true at the moment. No big deal. What is is what is. It will change of itself. No need to fret and fuss. Look at anyone you love. Look at anyone you dislike. Each, in time, will die. No need to try to prevent, prolong, or precipitate. Appreciate the appearance and the recollection.

And while we're here, while we're still standing, breathing, listening or watching -- why not just do that with as much awareness as we can muster.

An hour was taken from us last night. It changed all the clocks, As the farmer from Warren used to say at the shop, "Oh well!"

It all goes by. Panta the cat decides it is time to crawl around my midsection and purr, possibly sleep. The dog in in the truck with door open, and is not barking. Chitta the cat is on the porch snoozing on wicker divan. The woman is at her computer crunching numbers thinking of a new tomato soup for table practice.

If there is only love, and we exist, do we have to search for love as one might for pushpin or ginger snap? Love is not a search. It is the fact of things.

I have lost sanity.

Th insanity surrounding the place I once inhabited is where I long resided. I am emeritus insane now. With all the rights and privileges there attached. When I look at the world wherein I live and breathe and walk the roads, I am looking into a peripatetic mirror. And there I am.

May what is imperceptible to us become obvious.

May the inconspicuous reveal itself.

And may you become whole and entire as this universe is such and so!

no seeing this

When I went insane

Nobody noticed

What I no longer


poiesis (from ancient greek: ποίησις) is what you make of it

In a dark time the ayes begin to see.