The Poetry of Being

The components of being build essences of the all told, acted, sung and noted.

They shake out doings done and yet to come like San Andreas’ fault, not a fault. 

Did we quake? My shoulders shuddered like a surge, a heart murmur or eruption.

No, the inner mechanics of rebellion taking a stand on all things ingest just arose.

When the ear throbbing starts, I know I’m lost to it, going into floated notice din.

My heartbeat declares so loudly inside my ears in its under water muffle-areum.

I doubt creation’s pen then, my mouth moving silently, my hands ripping at keys.

Keyboard fingers fly like the cocaine toad hopping brain’s clicking away at strings.

There’s this word association that bleeds writing, a lapse, slide gurgle into them:

Strung words, the meaning of which is not revealed until they mix and sit together.

They settle in a rhythm and slur, brushed water tinted smears blotting tilted space.

Poetry and being entwine thus: letter, scene, wish, guess all overlaid in blindness. 

Squeezed juice, the nothing of matter becomes me-you, and we polish air’s shine.

Bow to Mystery

I went looking for my calling 

until my calling found me 

but forgot my name.

Before I could hear, 

I wanted to be a 











tightrope walker, 


and boy.

A few wishes called to me 

and a few I summoned once 

on a boring Tuesday afternoon, 

or was it Wednesday?

Days go nameless 

when your suit does not fit (unfit), 

your business is none of yours, 

and your words remind you 

of the unspecified advice 

given by that unnamed source 

on a forgotten date or 

something someone once said or 

letters you read in a book.

Endeavoring turned out a total bust, 

all that flapping and folding 

just to breathe the same air we all do 

and  always have since birth.

And after so much wind, 

when good fortune dropped in my lap, 

I turned to the skies looking for the bird.

Where does all the world’s blindness come from?

“Who created the creator?” my father asked, 

surprising me with the quality of the question. 

We all were.

But the truth is, 

the laurel crowns all word-walkers emerging open-eyed 

envisioning the final curtain call 

–as if there were a stage. 

I bow to mystery. 



I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I subscribe to chaos. I believe in the randomness of the universe as movement, collision, coincidence and correspondence. I believe in an ontology of chance. Cause-and-effect is real, but we humans are not always accurate tracers of chains. We are a lazy species, thus the teleology of throwing-up-our-arms-at-space with a surrendering shake of the head and declaring that the proof of the universe’s supporting life lies in our being here–the best science has to offer after unsuccessfully tracing the mathematical and natural laws to their inevitable ends in hopes of figuring out everything, just everything. We theorize origins and evolutions. We interpret from variables of experience, anatomy, observation and subjectivity. I do not trust absolutes. I believe in intention and will, though not necessarily in intended results. Thus speaks the rational mind of me.

The smoke and whispers, the mystery of which intuition is born, lean into those uninformed leaps of faith inside an unthinking gut and take me in another direction: a life unfolds according to its makeup, an already-has composition that merely needs room to spread out and manifest. Choices come from inherent brain patterns in conjunction with pathways generated in reaction to lived experience. This orchestrated tapestry of evolving human is the carpet unrolling from birth to death, a definitive starting and ending point that always ever was because of whom I was born, when and where. In that way, choices logical and whimsical alike, are prefigured, patterns predetermined even in their ensuing alterations and modifications. A determinism I am not comfortable with somehow associates the mystery of the inexplicable to me–my fuzzy teleology.

Singing Joni

Joni Mitchell sings, ” I am a lonely painter. I live in a box of paints.” And when she does, I am stilled. But it is not the last sentence so much as the first, and not the last word so much as the word before–lonely–that moved me dozens of hearings. She moans the word, extended ‘O” evocative of Munch’s howl, though far more subtle, deeper and soulful. The anguish is not Munch’s, overlaid with fear, so much as the rooted, internal groan, petulant sugar, that she bemoans.

I sing that line out of nowhere driving in my car or listening to a conversation drifting in and out, particularly imbalanced ones where I witness more than counsel or contribute.

At first the metaphor of living in a box of paints brushed up against the literary lover in me. I imagined her a genie in a bottle, except a box of paints, transporting me back home–in my imagination–just visiting others’ worlds when I choose or must. But I know it’s the howl of the loooooooo that draws me to the line, to sing it. And not the lonely of loneliness. We are all lonely, though more like unsatisfied, unfocused and disassociated too often. A spiritual loneliness more than a lost or severed connection with others often characterized by missing someone or something. I do not consider that lack as lonely. It’s bigger yet smaller than one human or animal or other being, one activity.

No, the oooo in the looooo is both a ‘no’ and an ‘oh,’ like a sort of toggling between braking and accelerating a car or a dance, patterns of release and restraint.

Joni wants to paint but she sells songs instead. She is an artist, vast and particular. Many artists tear at the thrust of creation thwarted to pay the bills. We yearn to paint.

It is not so much a complaint–I can find a modicum of pleasure and certainly gratitude in anything I do, given that I allow myself to do so–as much as it is a longing, a desire ever felt, within centimeters of impossibly outstretched fingertips, a taste, a scent, a faint melody or flash of recognition come and gone. The hollow left behind–of not reaching–the come and gone, is the oooo. Both full and empty space, both present and absent. An ache. But one informed by the mind’s consent. I hurt because I worked out, something good for me. It will get better.

A promise. We live on promises. Some say that is wasting time, wasting away. Waiting is my least favorite thing to do. Impatience is my pratfall. But there is the impatience at not getting what I want–an open lane for some fucking space, room to race onward!–and there is impatience with something larger, more profound. Not attaining because…Perhaps that is the larger impatience. The because. What follows elicits the moan, sigh and gut grief.

Today “I am a lonely painter” with many mutterings to utter before the day is through, puppeteering a teacher, word-pump, and merchant. And as I dive into a replenishing yet jolting plunge into gratitude, I will channel Joni, fighting for all that is ordinary and plentiful right now–air, thought and motion.


If I Could Savor…


If I could savor all the bits and pieces of love I have shared

–with or without someone else–
and store them in a capacious safe place 
such as a warehouse, 
a bank vault 
and my heart, 
all in one, 
to draw upon on days like these after a night of angst and tremor, 
there would never be a moment of worry, 
of terror or dread, 
no steam of regret or anger, 
for all would be washed away in the oceanic amour reservoir. 
I have loved so much so often, 
it is a wonder there is any room for other invaders to besiege my mood, 
disrupt my sleep or daytime dreaming, 
none to spare for jealousy and greed, 
envy and hate. 
Love has filled all the cracks, 
poured off in excess to inundate the floor of my soul, 
completely submerged in pooled good will and heart offerings that bind. 
Or so it would seem on sheer mathematical principles alone. 
So many loves, so many times.

Is there any fiercer love in so fragile a bundle than the adoring eyes of an infant 
following and studying her mother’s face? 
No matter the need, 
there is brimming love un poisoned by desire 
and machinations of how to get that in my pocket, 
in my bedroom, 
or in my bank account.
No matter the illusion, 
the source is there in wide open hazy eyes 
studying the mystery of the powerful impulse 
to forego sustenance in order to drive nearer the object of an overwrought mind 
and wretched will to be in the presence of the beloved. 
The road is endless until a fluid destiny culminates. 

I asked a friend, 
and me, 
on occasion: 
How could there ever be a lonely-cold day of wondering where she’s gone, 
who she loves now, 
when she gave up so much of her herself, 
her ambition and freedom, 
the dream job and impassioned call to the city’s illuminating sights, 
to be with you those many years? 
Did you not collect those trillions of minutes and safe-keep them in your house, 
hidden in the darkest corner of your room, 
the moments of her bottom lip brushing yours in tender, 
have-spilled surrender to the night, 
your heat enveloping her breath, 
deepening her sleep to the pallor of death’s neighborhood? 
Where did you send those beats’ resounding 
if not through that mighty pump thrusting it off 
to venture through the veins of your mind’s nettings? 
Draw them now; 
paint the joy of that brush of your mother’s thin fingers through your hair, 
your grandfather’s whistling from the smokey yard, 
giant barbecue tongs in hand, 
your toddler’s honey sticky fat thumbs on your cheeks, 
your lover’s call in the late night longing, 
your sister’s tearful embrace, 
the memories of moving childhood laughter pinched in her arm’s muscular grip, 
and the first step in the door of the home and hearth 
you have craved for trillions of minutes endured away.  

Love is strong. 
I have heard of her lifting a car to save her baby 
and her loss heavier than the bloated body at the bottom of the lake. 
It does not dissipate for the air cannot carry such weight. 
The heart cannot contain it all, 
and the mind cannot grasp it. 
Love must reside in the thick rubbery green of the rubber plant 
hanging above my porch, 
or in the orange of the sky at dusk, 
or in the olive and pink sheen of my daughter’s freshly showered skin, 
or the ancient brown of the spots on my mother’s cheeks 
or the muffled sound of my father’s cough from the other room, 
or the musk of the classroom still lingering even after long summer months  
or the squeeze of my hand just before I approach the podium for my closing argument, 
or the earth of an emerging bordeaux on my tongue, 
and the thought of growing old with the world.