Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bundles of Connection

I beg more of myself
Than of any similarly muffled ear
To attune to the consonances
Of, say, Grand Central Station,
To the luminosity and heft
Of the everyday sphere,
As I sit in this basement
With my singular longing:
To make of our talk a dance,
To bring the aural relations
More tightly near.

What does a man love when
He loves a woman?
If no-self, if anatta,
Then what bundles of connection
Come begging me to attend?
Beneath the hubbub of the market,
The rise and fall of the yen,
We hear the distant humming
Of an electron zapping through a field,
Purring in the voice of a lover,
If only electrons made noise.

(I am on the train now—
Harlem looks like a rumbling
In the stomach, an indigestion),

Which direction the words spiral
Depends on which hemisphere
You watch them move;
I stand in the east, looking west,
Or is it the other way around?
Your flesh makes me perspire,
Your eyes thump me in the groove—
But what seethes forth from
Emptiness, sibilant and arresting,
Gives form to our conversation,
Recedes inside you into nothing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Conversation

“Not really.”
“How are you?”
“It’s just... I don’t know... I can’t... uhgg!”
“I hear you.”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Warm Bundle

She is a warm bundle on my chest,
her breaths heaving and audible in the dark,
her arms hanging limply
then tightening, spazzing, flailing,
her tiny hands batting at my chest:
she is trying to fall asleep.

Do we know what it means to
be in the moment?
To find ourselves in the picking up
of others?

After all it was the ninth inning of
the World Series when she cried out,
when I crept into her world
to sooth her transition from waking life
to dreamland. If you think about it,
most of us still have trouble falling asleep
on our own, hence, the TV, cocktails,
our tossing & turning, tightening & unwinding.

The thoughts that pass through our minds at bedtime.

It is only when I focus on releasing
the tension in my own limbs,
on my own inhale and exhale,
that she finally gives in,
gives up, sighs a great big
baby sigh, her limbs going limp,
her body letting go into slumber.
By then the game is over,
and she and I have have edged
a little closer to the championship.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


It is wrong to clip one's nails on the subway. And yet, I saw a man doing so the other day. I believe, with Socrates, that if one truly knows the right course of action, one will inevitably choose said right course. The hard part is the knowing. If only this man had known that it is wrong to clip one's nails on the subway!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Strange Boy

Strange boy, he was. In the yard he sat staring at the large evergreen tree that towered in the corner of the yard. The tree bloomed over the yard like a yawning mouth. Many times, he had climbed the tree’s sticky, sappy limbs. The limbs were rather thin for such a tall tree. The pine cones and pine needles littered the shaded bed below. He stared. It was a concentrated gaze through which the boy endeavored. Endeavored to be. There was the tree, yes, he could see, and there was the boy, yes, himself he knew. But were there two? The boy was thirteen years old is all. Yet already it seemed to him there were not two but one. That he was the tree when he looked at the tree. So he stared. Trying to keep it in mind. In mind. In his strange mind the tree bloomed over the yard casting shadows in which he sat staring at the tree with his strange mind.

Friday, August 14, 2009


What more is there than this curious
Faculty of ours to rest our awareness
On or in or with something, so that the whole
Of our being is immersed in that other,
So that, in fact, there is no separation between I
And, for example, a grecian urn,
Or a gathering storm cloud out my window?
The measure of a man is in the quality
Of his attention, which begs the question then of
This varying quality, that is, what is the unit of measurement
Of attention, one of depth or completeness or raptness?
What is it about attention, which on the surface seems plain
Enough, almost black & white, meaning, your attention is
Either with me or not, an either-or situation, that upon closer
Analysis, indeed, reveals itself to be more complex?
Herein lies the amplitude and frequency that gauge
The way one, as is said, focuses
Or concentrates or places one’s awareness,
And, in this way, creates meaning out of perpetual emptiness.

So then let us look long and hard and again at the urn
With its timeless scene of the precipice of love,
Its unheard melodies of the piper, its never-fading beauty of the maiden,
And let us rest therein, embodying Keat’s paradoxes,
Never lifting our gaze, not to breath nor to quench
A parched tongue, for to look upon the scene of immortal seduction
Is enough, yes, to merely look upon beauty is enough.
Certainly for this particular shard of attention,
Stretched out over countless poems and days, knowing the limits
Which everywhere make human our efforts at eternity.
Every song lifted from these lips ventures only so far, enchants
Only so long amongst us mere mortals, until, at last, the spell of my art
Is broken, and we remember the rain battering at the window,
And when in this instant we leave our frozen lovers
In their ancient grasses, all is lost again, undone again,
Unborn again as it was and ever shall be in the beginning.

Monday, July 13, 2009


The weather turns and the way we hold our faces shifts.
If I called life a parade of moods, would that suffice?
Perhaps the numbers—the scores, the accounts, the taxes—
are keeping us too tight, too inward and false.
Perhaps the weather doesn't surprise us enough.
Why else would we build our worlds so small and fearfully?

It’s the wind through the leaves
and the speckled shadows on the concrete sidewalk
that turn all ideas loose into a playpen of our own making.
What I’m saying is when the weeklong rains finally disperse,
leaving the city basking in its verve and sunshine,
something of the communal does seep into our day,
reintroducing itself as that famed Something Greater
than ourselves...

Meanwhile, birdsong is greater than myself,
in fact, I’d like to say everything is always greater than myself,
but it’s more complicated, or less simple, than that.

In other words, the gardener of this West 12th St. greenspace,
a cheerful old woman in a blue plaid shirt and baseball cap,
with whom I have discussed the tricks of teaching kids math,
is part of this larger portal that I’m trying to get at,
the one through which we sometimes choose to pass,
more easily on a sunny day

and easiest in that moment when the weather shifts,
revealing the blue sky and a kaleidoscope of shadow
and light dances before our eyes,
phenomena forever passing itself off as self.