Saturday, July 15, 2023

kai ouden menei

In prison yesterday one of those fleeting but important intuitions — every belief, prayer, story, thought, or experience we have or relate is only, as one of the men puts it, a placeholder until something else or next comes along that changes, deepens, or eradicates that which is the placeholder. 

Heraclitus of Ephesus (535–475BC) wrote: “Everything flows and nothing abides” (Greek “Panta rhei kai ouden menei”)

So, pray what is familiar to you. It, and you, will change. Let both happen.

“Tommy," Willie said. "I love you, you son of a bitch, and don't die."
Thomas Hudson looked at him without moving his head.
"Try and understand if it isn't too hard."
Thomas looked at him. He felt far away now and there were no problems at all. He felt the ship gathering her speed and the lovely throb of her engines against his shoulder blades which rested hard against the boards. He looked up and there was the sky that he had always loved and he looked across the great lagoon that he was quite sure, now, he would never paint and he eased his position a little to lessen the pain. The engines were around three thousand now, he thought, and they came through the deck and into him. 
"I think I understand, Willie," he said.
"Oh shit," Willie said. "You never understand anybody that loves you.”  

 Ernest Hemingway, Islands in the Stream

The gist is the guest. Comes and goes. Like supper. Dishes placed in sink. 


Washing up. Grinding coffee. Splitting English muffin. Down toaster. Liturgy from France.

Understanding seems a luxury.

Undergoing feels more the case.

One moment to the next. Then, the next.

Flowing through.

ising unto itself


No matter












to what (yes)

Was, Ising 

and going it will be gone

 If this night is last

I say I’ll have no other

Let it pass and go

Friday, July 14, 2023

neither hide nor hair

 Spin-wording hyper-

sense through cross-fibers weaving

Finnegans Wake climbs

out from ridiculous earth

through cloudless sky to these ears

Thursday, July 13, 2023

sentinels to mountainside

Once I was less a clownish hobo. Then everything started to fall off the table to ground.

Once I thought I had a home. Then all the walls began to crumble and no barn slider opened to dooryard.

Once the yurt and brook stood sentinels to mountainside. Then solitude whispered invitation and soul forages like low snorting deer as insects crisscross outside door screen.

Tumbling water at turn of brook will soon arrive at Hosmer Pond where young day campers delight unperspectivally their ritual play of a hot afternoon.

Things, if you glance around, as they say, are looking up.


tip of finger, peeling skin

 So many publications, newspapers, tabloids, congressional hearings, opinion pieces, junk mail, any panegyric. 

A finger points at the moon, but the moon is not at the tip of the finger. Words point at the truth, but the truth is not in words. – Huineng

Walking out into summer day, up past gate toward yurt and brook, past cemetery, the mountain climb, the scattered sounds of Thursday morning.





on considering my death

Reading obituaries. 

My death will not be unexpected. I will not have fought a fraught battle courageously, nor will I want a gathering of loved ones to wave me off to a reunification tour of relatives and good friends in some heavenly coffee house where brioches and millet muffins are free and fresh.

 Obituaries seldom say “he’s off to hell to burn forever” and understandably so — it’s hard to see through smoke and sulphuric fog to track the wretched deceased’s downward spill.

My room, my squalid cell, will not be roped off and amber froze as a museum look-in for two bits on Saturday tours, nor will any plaque hang from lamppost indicating right here he leaned and fell while attempting to comfort a broken down Ford 150 whose radiator leaks to the curb.

I will spare the public their lachrymose response to sordid departure, wreaths of dandelion and crabgrass, after-service table filled with potato salad and four-bean gorp alongside Pillsbury rolls.


When I die just go about your business. Stay away. Write no nonsense about how I loved to fish and attend art openings, gave waifs and scraped-knee lads a nickel or dime for the candy store, tipped my cap to the honorable ladies perusing main street with kidlets in tow. 

There’s no need to pause. No need to ponder. No need to pretend.

He’s gone. That’s it. What’ll we have for breakfast? 

Did you take the garbage out?

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

no bell no cushion no kidding

 kitchen quiet house

quiet -- God is completely

beyond this place this 

time -- God completely within

this -- quiet meditation 

no practice other than just practice

Weather hot, wind weak,

dog in yard dug deep in dirt

here in kitchen, words --

"practice is enlightenment"

said Dogen -- practice practice

the commas, yes, the commas

 Friend said someone responded to the question, “Do you believe in God?” with,“I believe in nothing but God.”

Good words.

I heard it this way:

I believe in nothing, but, God. . .”

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

to turn about, turn about with

In prison yesterday morning, conversation about gravitational waves, perception, our illusory perceptions, the unceasing awareness we must bring to every encounter, each person before us, whatever temporary conclusions we draw as to the relative safety or danger of each assessment made. As well as laughing at our own absurdity and posturing.

Then there's this:

His universe-as-one-giant-computer theory, as described by the author and science writer Robert Wright in The Atlantic Monthly in 1988, is based on the idea that “information is more fundamental than matter and energy.” Professor Fredkin, Mr. Wright said, believed that “atoms, electrons and quarks consist ultimately of bits — binary units of information, like those that are the currency of computation in a personal computer or a pocket calculator.” 

As Professor Fredkin was quoted as saying in that article, DNA, the fundamental building block of heredity, is “a good example of digitally encoded information.” 

“The information that implies what a creature or a plant is going to be is encoded,” he said. 

“It has its representation in the DNA, right? OK, now, there is a process that takes that information and transforms it into the creature.” 

Even a creature as ordinary as a mouse, he concluded, “is a big, complicated informational process.”

(--NYTimes, 4july23, Edward Fredkin, 88, Who Saw the Universe as One Big Computer, Dies)

 As an 'informational process', a description which, in a different time and head-tilting consideration, Heraclitus (6th C. BC) would probably nod in affirmation, as would A.N.Whitehead (1861-1947), the term 'process' indicating a developing progression moving through the parameters of time and space.

Those in prison would like such consideration. While terms like punishment and rehabilitation are part of the lexicon, and new terms such as restorative justice and prison abolition, parole and community confinement, enter the discourse. In addition, there are other lexical considerations to mull. 

Familiar terms such as evolution and mutation, maturation and moral change, existential awareness and personal integrity. 

Men in prison, by and large, change. I know many men who've been in prison for 20, 30, 40 years. They are not murderers. Yes, they've committed homicide, the act. But they are not their crime. They do not think, "Man, I can't wait to get out so I can murder again." It was something they did, not something they are. Most would say it was a terrible moment in their lives. A moment that hurt everyone involved. And they understand the reverberations felt affecting the wide circle of consequence and heartbreak. 

But they do not need to be kept in that clanging box of static memory. They have, by and large, stepped beyond their terrible moment. So very many are ready to be graced if allowed to demonstrate their newness to the greater society beyond the echo chamber of closed recrimination.

Modern prisons, mostly the good ones (if such can be said), offer courses, trainings, seminars, counseling, conversations, job-skill development, work regimens, and higher education. Maine State Prison and Bolduc Correctional Facility are two places where meetingbrook *conversations are held each week. These are open-ended, drop-in, any-topic, exploratory conversations where poetry, physics, politics, personal exploration, philosophy, the nature of space and the cosmos, psychology, or even the subtleties of language and how words and thinking affect how we perceive the world.

These are joyful gatherings where straight-talk with insight and honesty takes place, and where posturing and bullshit seldom take place.

Kibitzing and laughter are equally at the table. It is my favorite swap for teaching university courses. (I hate grading. And would not want to navigate the quisling offerings of AI chat bots.)  I love the open agenda and constant flow in and out of participants with their enthusiastic thoughtful investigatory insights and non-mandated personal writings meant to augment our common inquiries and conversations.

We turn together. They turn within themselves. We turn within ourselves.

Perhaps, soon enough, prison systems and society at large will also take the turn, and allow the vast number of folks in prison who are no future threat to anyone, to have their turn at redemption and creative reconnection with life outside prison.

conversation (n.)

mid-14c., "place where one lives or dwells," also "general course of actions or habits, manner of conducting oneself in the world," both senses now obsolete; from Old French conversacion "behavior, life, way of life, monastic life," and directly from Latin conversationem (nominative conversatio) "frequent use, frequent abode in a place, intercourse, conversation," noun of action from past-participle stem of conversari "to live, dwell, live with, keep company with," passive voice of conversare "to turn about, turn about with," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + versare, frequentative of vertere "to turn" (from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend").

(--Online Etymological Dictionary) 

To turn





Monday, July 10, 2023

nothing left



Sunday, July 09, 2023

hospitality and radical humility

 Let it arrive

As it is arriving

Just so, it arrives