it can’t take everything

September 25, 2015

there were moments when things made a bit more sense.
a memory of this came with a song the other day.
at a time; my wife and kids and I all enjoyed it together,
one of our momentary family anthems – a peaceful song
and proof that there was this day with enjoyment.
with the memory came a longing for that different day
just so that I could appreciate its happening.

at the core there is a constant reaching…
slow stretch of fingertips
to brush beauty.
its hard to yearn and strive
and keep open;
not to snap shut and turn on something
you can grasp two-handed and throttle
or more often give up in indolence or easy dissent
sinking back into the default of exhaustion.

…but beauty flowing like wisps of smoke
gathering in my hands, winding around my fingers…
what about the dream of you I had once
– all those I love with that ache of longing –
standing together talking, holding their stars.
or the easy afterglow of the Unfair Advantage
or the occasional day alone in wilderness.
I know that I have inhaled beauty
and that can’t be taken from me.

at work…
6 deer stepped across the parking lot.
young bucks; their antlers: big and new and awkward
impeding their quick disappearance
into the thin copse of trees at the edge.
then walking in the community garden
I saw a pumpkin on the dying vine
still small and half buried
but so orange.
is that what it is like inside
the sense of returning?
a few unwithered vines still reaching…
to soon to tell
need more rain.
I hope when it comes I will dance in it with my children.

expecting

January 29, 2015

life goes on
+ life goes on
you can’t shut it off
and expect to survive
expect respect
for staying alive
if I knew then what I know now
I’d still know nothing
and you’d still be my friend anyhow
+ everything I broke would still be broken
+ every hurt I spoke would still be spoken
and it would still all happen in slow motion
+ so fast it would be out of my control
I am the fraud with the heart of gold
just a fraud with a heart of gold
I can’t shut it off
or go back
or keep from getting old
or expect God
to be anything of my expecting
just a fraud with to many opinions
to expect respect for having nothing
to say that matters
regardless of conditions
it is hard to say anything
that matters
even with try after try after try
I am still alive
I can’t shut it off
or shut it out
life goes on regardless
of what I think about it.

eggshells and mug shards

December 17, 2014

tell me that you love me.
i just want to stop moving for a little while
have a lie down
sleep to escape me,
but these days i snore
so even in the night
i bother us all.
dammit this stuff was supposed to help me
not make me crazier.
i don’t know what to expect
or what is even a valid expectation.
your love
is the constant.
so exhausted that it
turned to crying this morning
for me for you for us for them.
i don’t know where my heart has got to
and the mug leapt out of my hand
as i was trying to put it away
crashed down on that important plastic thing
rendering it useless
i yelled as it bounced and fell to the floor
broken, ruined
my heart
pulverized
what kind of fragile things
are our children growing up with
as i toss eggshells all over the floor
on the couch, on the carpet, in the kitchen
where ever i went this morning, wherever i go.
i know that our first-born
would cover the shells with candy hearts
and sweet little slogans
sincere visions in colored paper hung on the fridge.
she squeezes into the hug
so tall now
but still finding room…
there is room for them all.
but i lack the strength
to sweep up.
be careful where you step, kids
dad’s heart is missing again.

i will try

November 17, 2014

if i were to come home
wrap you in a cozy blanket
lay you on the couch in warm light
brush your hair and rub your feet
with quiet companionable equanimity
that would be awesome

if i were to come home
grab a cheapassbeer from the fridge
collapse on the couch amidst the chaos
feel the ache in my head and feet
try to accept the noise and my deep tension
that would be obvious

if i were to come home
wrap you in a hug as soon as the kids let me
sit on the couch with them and read books
look forward to when we can relax our minds and rest our feet
together release as much of it all as we can
that will be enough

no groan-ups allowed

November 9, 2014

i think money is better than work
work sucks
money is great
and the two dont seem to have a whole lot to do with each other
so, there you go
debt is easy and depressing and impossible and probable
even though we are careful
and i am a skilled little sexton
i am also a depressed and anxious one
without the possibility of ambition
there is just no money or romance
in exhausting yourself physically
and hurting and being afraid
both financially and of getting older.
it takes years to become a journeyman
or master craftsman and make money as a true tradesman
might as well be a doctor
or learn Japanese
plus most guys slave for someone else
take their paycheck and go (like me for example)
they dont give a shit about what theyre doing
and theyre still all better at it than me
but here i am
stuck and whinging (i like that word –
though its so close to whining its almost pointless to know it)
and winging it – constantly anxious
because i never really feel like i know what im doing
no one has ever taught me any of this stuff
i just kind of had to figure it out
and so i still feel like im doing it all wrong
plus i spend half my time just moving heavy things
my life is a waste
oh by the way
i have a depression problem and am not a reliable narrator
ignore my bullsnit – thats right i said bullsnit – for no reason
if it wasnt for my now crippling anxiety
i would go back to school for a therapy license of some sort
it would be much less stressful in the long run i think
and definitely better money
and everybody wants a depressed, anxious therapist.
i still live in the same place and do the same nothing and my stomach hurts everyday and i keep getting worse as i get older and i am afraid of this and im trying new meds and they always fuck with me but my marriage is exceptional and i get better looking every year. i am so stressed and paranoid but i listen to a lot of good stuff (pod-casts books music etc) to unsuccessfully distract my self from that. being a parent sucks but i like my kids as friends though the anxiety and depression gets in the way of that a lot but i am a gentle man so my kids love me a ton and thats pretty good and im no good at writing anymore cause this is an attempt to be funny

sorry now im tireder and dont want to write anymore
i want to go on a beautiful hike
i dont want to discourage anyone or be a downer
i dont really know anything cause im just a sexton:
a holy handyman a cloistered custodian a justified janitor
a sanctified super – high maintenance
thats me
your friend

aaackkk. its very 1st world educated middle class
to feel this miserable and poor while having so much – its disgusting.
place ourselves before the world… we are not poor
but i wish so hard that i could give my family more.
money is stupid
besides what do i really sacrifice to provide better?…
not enough, i just drink really gross cheap ass-beer,
thats what it is = ass-beer.
my Unfair Advantage still believes that i write songs that are good enough to bring in a bit of cash
i dont know (i doubt it) and cant get my act (in every way) together enough to find out anyway
a best friend once said that i had “production-anxiety” and was so right
i think about that phrase all the time and it constantly almost changes my life and the way i do things
maybe today it will
maybe today it will
maybe today is different

lately i’ve been such a mess that i want to ask people for prayers
i want santa god to help me out
anything to escape me
but there is no way out
not even suicide
couldnt do that to my people
and death is scarier than life anyway
too much of a wuss to live successfully or die properly
or believe anything or to have hope
hip hope hooray
wow, i am being such a downer
such a whinger
such a groan-up
i will stop now

what are reasonable expectations?

i don’t really know where to go from that question.

sleep, i guess.
thats the big one.
i used to assume that everyone was tired.
once upon…
a lady asked me how i was
(which at the time was typically low)
i didnt want to tell the truth, that could be obnoxious
but i have trouble saying “fine” like i’m supposed to
so i thought i had the perfect answer and i responded
“oh, same as everyone else i suppose”
she got serious and asked how everybody felt
and my response was: tired.
she said, “I’m not tired”.
and seemed genuinely surprised that everyone else was.
honestly, very presumptuous of me to speak for others
but surely this lady is an outlier.
she has like six kids and is super active all the time with everything
but not tired.
is everyone tired? (besides her)
i am too tired to even write this
that which i am writing
or are you too tired to tell
those who which i are reading.
can you be too tired to procrastinate?
i mean, it seems impossible now
surely i would fall to my knees and weep
if i tried to keep writing, to do anything
but whats to say it will be any easier tomorrow
to order the following into proper meaning
more sleep is unlikely
but i cant do it
put it off
you can read all this later. – oh, sorry.

how are you? says the van…
i am tired. says the wheel.

we were reading aloud…
Wendell Berry instructing us on how to be poets
in which he advises:
“stay away from screens”
to which all of us adult children and spouses nod;
feeling so sure of ourselves and think:
yes this is good advice for the poet;
media consumes and destroys,
overwhelms imagination, steals time.
when Mom says quietly:
but screens can be very good
keeping out pests and saving children from malaria.
its a rare and pleasant thing to sit on a veranda
wrapped safely in screens looking out onto the wild savanna
and relax into the soft breeze of the evening
with the provided protection.

and so the word screen constructed itself between the generations,
we sliced it open and hugged through it
crawling freely back and forth without difficulty.
knowing that Mom was right and obscured nothing
and if she was not a poet, certainly her life was a poem.

cage

October 16, 2014

my brother (in-law) always asks:
if you were an animal right now, what would you be?
i like this game.
i like to hear the kids answer
and what the adults say if they’re willing to play.
well, since you asked…

i would be a (non-specific) zoo animal.
see, here’s the thing about zoo animals:
for the circumstances of survival? they’ve got it made.
in their modern enclosures
well fed and comfortable, safe,
taken care of, even loved.

i’ll be honest,
as i sit here and write this
i think, “i’m failing to explain myself”.
on the way home, in the car, it seemed like a good metaphor
and i had it worked out on so many levels
that i was surprised.
i mean – all metaphors eventually dry up,
break down and face their limitations
but this one seemed nicely apt
and remarkably nuanced and multi-whatevered.
now i’m not even sure what i was trying to get at.
plus there’s plenty folks who find zoos sad / repugnant
and would have good arguments against what i just said.

but i’m not debating anything here, just wandering…

at the zoo:
when we pass the pumas
their eyes follow my golden-haired child
and i feel their feral thoughts: …food.
the flamingos walk around mumbling at one another;
goofy and striking.
the petting area full of harassed goats
and a carpet of brown pellets.
the enclosed, engineered spaces full of thousands of creatures
worlds away from where their wild fellows are mostly dying.
and they have no idea where they are or what their world is,
and probably don’t care.
but i once saw a local squirrel lose its grip
on the net covering the snow leopard enclosure – falling.
that was an intense few minutes.
but when the chase was over;
the squirrel was breathing heavy on the outside
of the net considering its unfortunate clumsiness;
dexterity, good luck, and freedom…
while on the other side sat a frustrated beautiful beast.
born and bred in captivity, languid and lackadaisical.
then the squirrel had to rush off
to its frantic existence of foraging and survival
while the leopard yawned, stretched,
found a comfortable shady spot
and lay down for a rest after the excitement.
and there it is.

if animals were people
and had some kind of idea about themselves
and feelings about themselves one way or another
as a success or failure in their animalness
what kind of people would your animal be?
(that was stupid but i’m not gonna change it.)

i don’t want to be pacing the cage
but i like being safe and warm,
loved, cherished and taken care of.
our instinct is to be feral
but we all enjoy having our bellies rubbed.
as my mind flies and dives
runs and climbs and leaps
exalting in wild beauty;
i sit in my cage
roll onto my back and wait.

go and do likewise

September 29, 2014

a neighbor, a friend
one who shows mercy.
the inconvenienced, the kind;
you are these for reading.

one of the unspoken rights of friendship is standing permission to inconvenience each other without the fear of reprisal, rejection, resentment or disconnect.

but my Samaritan instincts are lacking
and i need time when someone asks something of me;
to get over my petulance and my tiny self.
yet time is often exactly what can’t be granted –
that being the nature of needing a sudden favor.
(oh me, to suffer inconvenience, to interrupt my privilege)
the thing is
an unplanned conversation can take as long
and possibly be as inconvenient as a sudden favor,
but a good talk happens all the time and goes mostly unnoticed.
but when its an actual physical favor;
why do i want recognition for having been inconvenienced?
shouldn’t one just feel good for being good?
unless you’re talking to me at night…
no one will feel good about that
cause i wont let you go to sleep
though your eyes will be drooping
and you can no longer focus or pay attention
and you will feel like weeping unless i go away…
still i will be talking and talking and failing to say anything.
sort of like… say… me blogging
the recognition in such cases should be me going away.
sorry.

usually you can’t really know how
the other person is put out when you ask a favor
(or have a conversation)
even if they let it be known that its not good timing for them.

im thinking about a time i asked someone for a ride suddenly
or another
when i was with someone who had to borrow an old unused truck.
small things, but there was hesitation before agreement
and i cannot possibly know what it really cost to grant the favor,
what happened during that moment’s hesitation,
they may not be able to articulate it themselves.
but people are so good.

no matter how small the favor
the only possible response is gratitude.

one thing that none of us need
and none of us need be
is a scorekeeper.

forgiveness and gratitude walk around hand in hand
under the auspices of mercy
who in turn is acting for love.

and i am an incredibly clumsy friend.
though i love and i am so loved.
i have seen so many gracious, generous people;
friends, neighbors – inconvenienced and kind.
who am i that my time should be so precious?
my friends are wonderful
and my neighbors have been pointed out to me
by a very reliable source;
i just want to be humble
and go and do likewise.

the last sock matched
laundry finally finished
bed was made before a child got in it
and jumped and wrestled
and hid under the blanket
until bed time
when clothes again filled the laundry basket
and covered the floor
scattered with the legos and cars and more
art work than any surface could handle
oh… someone has taken a deck screw
and twisted it into a candle
red wax chunks all over the carpet
what child did this?
probably the one hiding under the blanket
in the wrong bed, in the wrong room
go get the kid, go get the vacuum
so neither of them get smashed into the ground
do something good, that sucks,
while calming down
floor is cleaned
now what about teeth
that goal tonight
might just be out of reach
but wait there is also faces, feet, hands
off to the bathroom, kids, be a marching band!
no, no fun can keep out the fussing
no level of effort can prevent the cussing
that never comes out
but swirls around in the head
when it becomes certain that the children
will never go to bed.