29 January 2009
And so the poetry is silent as well. My impatience catches me. Its barbs stick into my sweater. I hold back. I hold on. Hold on. I just want to see if I am strong. But I know You. You'd say I had nothing to prove. So why does it hurt to admit that I am scared? That pride has me running in all directions, gathering things, picking out words and images? A mockingbird desperately building a nest, a poem, something to love, for love, to stake a claim on the day?
I tried to write a short poem
slip knots inside
Conch shells, pink-
ness floating about
the head. You said
I needed to trust
less, wrap words
around ankles, swim,
drown them, wait;
see what emerges,
what light breaks
through the surface—
Gold, breath, bundles,
23 January 2009
and so I write tonight... to you...and You
I am reading Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy right now and am walking through some wild stuff. I think I'm beginning a sort of quest. I feel that way anyway...almost like I can see a path clearing out before me but everything is kind of hazy on the sides and fish-bowled.
At the same time, alongside Huxley, I am reading two books about Play..."Playing and Reality" by D. W. Winnicot and"Toys and Reason" by Erik Erikson.
Also, on top of all that, I am continuing with William Carlos Williams “Paterson”
I seem to find things drift toward me as though I am walking with my hands down to my sides and then up they go, slowly, my arms in small gestures, hoping that a signal will be cast, signs will stumble on to my path.
That's what happened with the combination of books (as all of my studies seem to arrive). Huxley was sent by a friend in the mail, Patterson, byWCW, was randomly purchased at Barnes and Noble in Midland. And both "Play" books were left sitting at my "spot" in the library. (I have a specific area in the basement that I prefer to sit, a place where ghosts and gods peek out from time to time if I glance over just in time. It seems to be where I am most relaxed, breathing a concentrated rhythm into the air, a pulse, a meditation. My holding station, my wagon-shed that happens to be full of stardust and just enough of the cosmos’ residual imagination that I lick off the desk when no one is looking). Anyway, some previous student had been reading the books, I presume, and left them piled up for me to find.
How we feel a connection with others through books. I imagine all of the hands that have held the various library books as I pull them off the shelf. If I were a library book, I'd love to feel that gentle tug on my spine, scraping against my neighbors like one in a row of teeth. It’s quite intimate: a lover's teeth while kissing and you happen to brush up against their set…two sets, a set of impossible combinations...like so many books--worlds bound up and separated from one another. How one book’s words cannot mingle with another's bound words, so to our inner lives remain intact, never touching, though we make love or recite our fears and inner dialogues....
So I am trudging through, though sleep evades me. And the tea steams by my bedside and I think of You and of Huxley and of God, or by that I mean my recent mind-wanderings and how I think of what I should do to see the world as God. Not the Church, but Nature, You and me, dust-mites and swarming anthills who have no idea of the gorgeous pine trees above us the galaxies that expose millions of belly-lights so that we can walk and converse and switch on our blackberries, dream, wake, garden and do it all over again in succession of two's and three's.
And here I am dissociating again. Did you know that I thought about You today? I would like to recall five times, but each time could be six times within itself. A moment of one thought could be a cluster of minute-marble-moments and within them, more.
So don't feel alone, or lonely. Like You, my feet hurt at the end of the day, from walking around in patterns I have yet to decipher.
11 January 2009
I have a confession. I have been down these past few weeks. The West Texas Sun has tried to wrap the warmth of its heart around me. I've listened most days.
My body tells me I'm more than this skin. Moments where there's a slight pain that reaches in for bits of my heart, my hands curl up into fists. Petals all themselves, not wanting to be picked and named sorrow.
But Soemthing moves that cannot be boarded against, held back, or cared for. It simply is.
And so, I've walked, or ran, the couple of miles around my neighborhood, bordering various barns, specked with horses who look over toward me as gods do their children. And again, the pain at their beauty. But the dust kicks up from underneath my feat as I keep on running, listening to one breath lie down, then another on the tips of mesquite.
Why am I sad?
I keep asking, over and over, as I run around the dusty alley-ways. And the sky answers back with gold and yellow, pink and rising red.
My chest aches, half from the running and half from whatever it is I'm feeling around this sunset. And if God doesn't speak through west Texas Sunsets, I don't know how else my heart was born.
And then my miracle.
Weaved through circumstance, I find someone who perhaps I've been hearing in those skies.
I wrote recently about waiting, listening to whatever it is that stops us in our tracks when we let go of distraction.
I think I've been waiting to hear from another life.
I dreamed, these past couple of weeks, several dreams concerning water.
I run each day, around the time I can view my gorgeous sunset, and I think about these dreams of blue, surrounded by the desert.
Sure, I've missed a lover, a friend, but something deeper this time. My sadness, unexplained, should have no place while I enjoy my home, my State, my family. These gorgeous sunsets.
Why am I sad?
So I wrote these dreams into a poem.
I recorded the poem. And a man sent me a message.
This man, a musician, but also a writer, told me his story and said this after reading/listening to my newest poem:
"When somebody blows you away with their beauty or their thoughts, their words or their music don't waste Karmic steam on praise. Tuck yourself into the folds of their genius and absorb the heat of their blood. And as the tears splash on your cheeks tell them what you hear."
And, man, I should be saying this to him, in return.
God, within us, whole lives reside.
We are not, should not, be alone.
Please read his story, here: http://www.iburymydead.com
I read his book, "I Bury My Dead" and immediately wrote: "How can so many people be so beautiful and connected in these strange ways? I am so overwhelmed right now. I feel like my body is no longer mine and I don't want it to be mine, It's theirs, it's God's."
You can find him here, as well: http://www.jamesmichaeltay
Keep weaving us together, Universe. Thank you.
10 January 2009
I can't. My body feels like dead weight in a fishmonger's bad dream where all the talapia go on strike.
Concentrate on an image.
I was driving down the interstate this morning in the middle of nowhere, Texas. It seemed like a good place to have an epiphany. Or sex. Or both.
You're being difficult.
Yeah, well, my body feels like dead weight.
You know, like the joints aint working properly, the sun isn't glistening off the chest, just kind of hanging there, knocking about. The heart isn't pleased. It gathers all its energy into a point, tries to push through.
No, not like heartache you dumb ass. Like shell-shock. Like you've just run a hundred miles and it's about ready to give up, throw itself over that bobbed wire fence and into the cow pasture, hoping some dolly will come along and step on it.
How about a more positive line of thought?
I tried my breathing exercises today.
Yeah, I guess. But they didn't work. I kept thinking about how bad my chest felt.
Did you try and silence your thoughts?
Yes. But my thoughts are like birds. They will not be silenced or slowed down. And if you try to observe the fuckers, they just fly about the room and cock their heads to the side and roll their eyes to the ceiling, as if to tell you there are better things they could be doing, better sites they could be seeing, you know, the kind you'll never get to see.
Did anything good happen today?
I almost allowed myself to feel something for one split-second. And dancing on the edge of that cliff, though dangerous, is still exhilarating.
What feeling was that?
I'd rather not disclose that information with you.
I think you do want to share it, but are afraid.
Well, the cliff is nice. It's got a bit of mud to it. Kind of like mouths, you know what I mean? And perhaps getting closer to the geology of the cliff is as good as the feeling.
What made you resist, other than fear?
Well, I was in the bathtub, first of all. Secondly, it's less about resisting and more about ability. One time I tried to wind-surf but ended up splitting my head open on a rock.
Just because one bad experience came from risk, doesn't mean that will always be the outcome.
No. Of course not. There have been mornings I've woken up feeling as if I lived an entirely different life in a dream. But I was still me. And God, or Morpheus or someone decided to allow me to keep that life, tucked away. I carried it around all day, but it slowly faded and I forgot everything I did, every word I said.
Tell me more about the scene from today, while driving down the highway.
Oh that felt very much like that kind of dream I was just explaining. Like, if I pulled the car over and stepped out onto the clean landscape, I could start fresh. A whole new life risen up out of tumbleweeds and mesquite thorns. That's what I love about driving. Your mind settles down into the hum of the road, curls up there like a dog, and begins to think about God or other possibilities. The windows like movie frames. Abandoned houses on the side of the road are shells of old lover's, waiting to be explored. Dusted off.
Where do your thoughts usually drift?
Can't say. It's different, you know. Sometimes there's music playing, sometimes there isn't. And that puts chains on the moods that would otherwise float to the surface. Today, there was that song, you know: "Even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with you, honey, and everything will bring a chain of love." Well, that sort of lifted me somewhere. Because there was this old Texaco station passing by, waving its arms in the blue like it was trying to catch flies. And I wondered about the families used to buy their gas there, where they were going. Who was driving. What kind of stories they constructed for their lives. Things double up.
What about the cliff?
It's not like I didn't knock. You wanna try? Perhaps I just don't have the key. But I still have my fun. Just because I don't have your hands, doesn't mean I can't balance myself. Words have their own deliciousness, even if you didn't write them. Jesus, it's so hot in here. Is it possible to go through menopause in your twenties?
I think you're probably just experiencing anxiety.
No. This heat is something different. Like a fishmonger who can't catch any talapia, but that's the only thing that sells these days. No one can afford the lobster. I think they are words that just can't feel their way out.
04 January 2009
The following is an abstract of some notes I've been taking today from a book called Chaos: A New Science, which was written 20 years ago (God, how far behind I feel!) by James Gleick.
Chaotic systems. Frank Hoppensteadt—fed the logistic nonlinear equation through his Control Data 6600 hundreds of millions of times, took pictures from the computer's display screen at each of a thousand different values of the parameter, a thousand different tunings…the bifurcations appeared, then chaos—and then, within the chaos, the little spikes of order, ephemeral in their instability. Fleeting bits of periodic behavior, as if flying through an alien landscape. One instant it wouldn't look chaotic at all. The next instant it would be filled with unpredictable tumult.
--The simple equation cannot represent reality perfectly. They were just metaphors METAPHORS
The use of metaphor to transcribe entire systems in abstract, beautiful patterns. Perhaps it's possible to create a poetic weaving of ideas.
I feel a ringing in my ear after writing these notes, jotting down equations, trying to make sense of the information as it unfolds…and it does unfold, almost literally, before my eyes. It recalls Brahms and Chopin, the way the center of my forehead feels when I read Eliot or Milton or see, for the first time, the Red Spot on Jupiter after hearing about it's makeup. And in a flash, something presses down on me. My ear stops ringing, my tongue tingles instead…and I am tempted to stop. Stop reading. Stop entertaining ideas of continued study with other professionals instead of simply the stack of books, the poetry that could immerge from the mixing of my neurons to explain such complex ideas in an even more dense pattern…because who am I to tread on this ground? What do I know and how could I qualify to know? Do I have endless amounts of money to accumulate degree after degree? And even still, DO I HAVE THE TIME? Because what's the use of knowledge if I cannot produce something from it? 1 Corinthians 13 always hangs in the back of my mind when I contemplate this, specifically 1 Corinth. 13:2: If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
Interesting, that I should continue to come back to this. I have spent the night, after reading, writing you a letter.
I am doing a new thing (well, lots of new things). Here's a shortened list:
1. Studying Chaos Theory and contemplating a PhD in it
2. Studying Neurology and Psychology (particularly the Brain) and contemplating a PhD in it (UC Davis has this thing called the M.I.N.D. Institute, focusing on Neurological Disorders and I would love to check that out)
3. Trying to chew all this new info around, write about it, and formulate the ideas in workable pieces of poetry
4. Working to get over the fear of loving people
5. Practicing dying*
*in relation to number 5-- I picked up this marvelous book (ironically I bought it at the beginning of the year) called "A Year to Live" by Stephen Levine-- "How to live this year as if it were your last." He wrote it for a myriad of people..people who are terminally ill, people who are not, people who are caring for people who are ill and dying, etc.
But, it's interesting, because while some would think this book would be a downer, it's actually quite freeing and wonderful.
I have always felt this pressure in my chest, like something is pressing down on me and if I don't move or do something, then I'll explode...perhaps that's why I've always written, since I was a child, in order to relieve this imagined pressure. Not that the pressure was bad, or painful, but that it was there, a growing out from within, a pushing up, like a shoot from the ground, knowing that there was only so far that that shoot could rise. At some point it had to stop, and then what would be pushing me forward? So I mean to say, I've always felt an urgency, even an urgency to not be so urgent...to be still...but it's an urgency nevertheless.
My mother was laughing at me today because I was showing her all these beautiful, computer generated models of the Koch Curve and the Lorenz Attractor and the gorgeous, spiraling, infinite Mandelbrot Set illustrating fractal sets, all which go along with Chaos Theory...and she said "Are you wanting to be a Scientist?" and I said "Well, yes of course."
But how could one be a scientist while also being a poet? Both take so much dedication and study. I can study science and incorporate it into Poetry, use Poetry as a mechanism to teach and allow science to have a new, poetic mouthpiece...and yet, how can I be completely truthful to Science if I am not educated enough? I could take on other degrees and become all I want to become, but that's taking into consideration a fairly long life....and so much study means that the results, the products, would be long-coming (if they are to be of any quality)...far down the road...
Of course, I'd still commit to study even knowing that I am not guaranteed a long life and thus time to produce the products for the public and world that studying would birth...because it's a process. There's never just one point, then blank space and then another point. There are levies and quarries along the way that pile up here and there with bits of work, shadows of future projects, etc.
And so, this practice of learning to die in order to live is quite interesting to mix with everything going on in my brain at the moment. I think it might be necessary. Keeps me motivated, that's for sure. But hopefully motivated for the love of it, not the end-of-it. No one can say what the end-of-it would be.
How can all these moments condense so much until what's left when you look back are fractions of moments and memory that do not relate rationally to the time spent? Such gorgeous moments from the past, but seemingly fleeting and added up, they begin to seem like the dust of the points that remain...as in Cantor Dust in Cantor Sets...there I go again with Math and Science references.
This book, "A Year to Live," mentioned something very interesting about death and the ego in reference to Freud:
"...the reason that some part of us denies that we will die is because it never really does. Even Freud, who believed that a sense of immortality was just a delusion of the sub-, or under-, consciousness which he noted had no concept for its own death, missed the point that perhaps the reason something within feels immortal is because it is. Nonetheless, whatever denial that-in-us-which-never-dies supports, must be closely examined so that it breeds confidence instead of stagnation."
I wondered what you think of this. I am famliliar with the idea of denial of death from Freud, the concept that so many things in our lives, so many drives, are results of "death anxiety," but how does this relate? Is what is just stated above another product of what we produce and tell ourselves as a result of our death anxiety and avoidance?
I certainly believe a sort of "living on." That, perhaps, though we die in body and in physical contact, that perhaps something else lives on...a legacy, a movement, etc...I'm just trying to feel things out.
It's interesting, because all this plays along very well with my studying Chaos Theory...Actually, it plays out quite beautifully, though of course it would, wouldn't it?
I feel, so often, like a toddler trying to run and lacking the ability both physically and neurologically. I often wonder when I will ever feel truly confident in my maneuverings with life, words and others.
And this is where the ringing in the ear both begins and stops. For how am I to hold you, transcribe you, love you, when I have nothing to offer but further questioning, a longing for one discovery after another? Soon, it must stop and I must love despite this inevitability. Indeed, keep going because of it.
01 January 2009
There’s this thread that reaches out and touches each one of us, connects us to something larger than ourselves. And most of us wake up and pass through the day without taking note of the tiniest signs holding us together, to each other and to the smallest and grandest portions of earth. We go on, worrying about the letters posted the day before, the emails sent seconds ago, whisking their way across fibers and into another's server. We wonder: how will they respond as they lean forward, sipping morning coffee, open the link that will grant them access to our words, our inner wolrd. These tiny threads, connect each one of us and yet we go on, thinking not of how we hold each other close, but how distances grow in our hearts and minds, isolating, or seeming to, our lives from one day to the next.
There stands a desert between us, not because nature constructed ergs and rocks to push up between us out of the soil, but because we chose to splinter our perceptions into definable surfaces. We hold our hands to sky, asking for another to guide us, refusing to look at our own feet-- how capable we are of walking in and out of each others lives not only with sandals, but with words, gestures, movements, longing.
There stands a desert, but it stretches out before us not as an obstacle but as an offering. I can’t tell you how many times I have missed another and found comfort simply by recalling them into memory, or how I’ve thought of someone only to receive a message or phone call, or even a dream, where they walked in and out of my life once again.
It is not just in the body that we enjoy one another, just as it is not necessary for touch in order to feel someone close by. Think of those fish, swimming together in harmony and yet not even conscious of the fact that they are among friends, companions. Indeed, they must have no idea that they are swimming together, learning to dance as one, but rather acting on how their lateral-line organs act upon their senses. So, too, I feel as though I “feel” some one above me, asking that I pay attention and walk closer toward them. Perhaps they are long gone, or perhaps I have yet to meet them, have never known them, but I must know, deep in some hidden bone, that their “spirit” somehow is acting upon mine. This “hearing” is inherent in all of us, as though all of life is one school swimming through some strange sea, knowing not where we are going or even of who surrounds us. But there are threads pulling us in patterns too advanced to grasp, too intricate and sophisticated to call us by our name...and yet, we move.
A loved one reaches out, touches our forearm, and suddenly a memory brings us closer to some part of ourselves, long forgotten. The lover comments on our distance and in one millisecond we are pulled back to the moment and to their arms, saying “I drifted off” and not yet knowing where we went, the day piles back on and we are set climbing once again, thinking of practical matters—bills, holidays, bank statements, dinner preparations, birthday gifts, and where to buy groceries. But something haunts us, doesn’t it? As though something is always just out of reach. I don’t think it’s out of reach, only that we are scared to take a moment and investigate the impulse to drift. Because life demands focus. But there we are, focused not on the Sahara between us, but the tiny rock in our eye, the daily distractions and love affairs with forgetting, numb automatics.
Recently, I have noticed it takes quite a bit of practice, patience, and discipline, but when I find myself weighted with such small worries, anxieties, daily-anchors, I try and reformat my thought process. I take myself out of the small neighborhood of everyday and place myself in the desert between us, between me and you, me and the rest of life. And in this expanse, all threads become a little more visible; things become new and novel; lovers rise up from the rocks and I am not alone—though all around there are bodies and warmth, the isolation marries comforting presence and all I do is swim with them, with both isolation and companionship. We join each other but remain singular—as the fish swim as one and yet, never touch, their extra senses allowing them all along to caress each other in movement without awareness. And in such moments, my mind, I think, drifts almost to the edge and I see myself as not myself but as the earth intended me to be—pure matter. Like the tiniest cell inside the inner ear that allows me to hear and move, I am the smallest part of a very large mechanism that cannot be escaped, but must be embraced.
And so, when I am alone and missing you, I think these thoughts. I recall from that Sahara a mind like my own, but separate. I rethink the daily worries into small, workable objects until you appear, glancing over your shoulder to signal me to follow. And out from the body, I rise up into something large and sweeping, as the desert sweeps its skin of dirt across its own body when the wind comes howling. You see, though we each are dust particles, our greatest movement is a collective one. But these threads, we pass through them like pesky spider-webs…we never notice the lovely pattern, just the obstacles around it. Still, we have the ability to perceive the connections, the landscape that is both the individual body and the very skin of earth.