TURN TOWARD THE STILLNESS
Day 10: Months. In all probability. Cancer appears to have
metastasized. Biopsy in Kingston soon. Long shot. But one in a million
my very good doctor and friend informed me. With a very remote
possibility, at least, they’re going to try to extend my life expectancy
as far as they can. Not going to take it for granted though
and make hope a kind of mental comfort food. Don’t want to die
a fat-minded man. The odds aren’t good, but I’ve been running bad odds
most of my life just to keep the show on the road as a painter, a poet,
and my small boy’s notion of being a man. All I want to do, as I said
somewhere else here on fb recently is look this dragon in the eye
and see what there is to love about it and keep enough
of my wits about me to sing it lullabies at night which I will,
no doubt, post to fb each day for as long as I can, because
it helps, it really helps, never doubt it, to know you’re there.
We don’t live our lives in isolation hough I’m sure many like me,
have convinced themselves they do, at times. Born unloveable or something, which, of course,
especially from what I’m learning these days, in all humility,
release, shining and deep appreciation is not true. Impossible.
The way we’re connected to each other here, the way all life is,
who can deny it, holy. Blake’s right. Everything that lives is holy.
And I would add, without presumption, everything lives. Rocks, too.
But I’m not running off to church. This sad, this is heavy,
and I know I’m your brother more than I ever have before in my life,
and as we neither live together here alone in the world,
nor do we die alone, so, to varying degrees of imagination
and depth and experience, in a sense, I know and feel acutely
through your many loving comments and outpouring
of compassion, love, and empathy for the situation I’m in here
in front of this firing squad of stars, trying to figure out
who they’ve given the blank to, lol, this is just not my death alone
but everyone’s property as Rilke would have, and did put it.
And though I have no right to, I ask you of those who wish
to live it, not die it here along with me, and if you can’t,
or you don’t wish to, that’s ok that’s ok that’s ok, too.
Doesn’t change a damn thing. I still love you. As Dogen Zenji says
so beautifully somewhere, not all the flowers open at the same time,
and once I grew up enough to understand that, certainly
haven’t tried to pry them open before they’re time.
The moon blooms in winter.
It took me twenty years to write that. Finished it last night
at five in the morning sitting in the dark
feeling things.Who says I can’t write short poems?
Which, course, I can. You just haven’t seen them yet.
Turn toward the stillness. Sapphire lady of my soul,
let go, let go. The fire descends. The wind’s stopped for awhile.
Gusts. Gusts of stars. As Rilke says. About nothing
but in that nothing all the rivers, all the deserts, gusting
like stars again. It’s a kind of dance, you can feel it that way.
Things sway as if they were on a swing, a spider web,
a suspension bridge, a branch. Can you feel that just a whisper
and a wavelength away? The solitude of a snake with
melancholy? Sad snake. Willows. Willows are good at this,
much better than waterfalls that don’t sway as much, move
in the groove with moshpit waltzers, funny thing to say
but it’s true. Think of all the things you’ve said
you’d love to in your life, and they’re swaying, their swaying, I swear.
So much I wanted to be, achieved, but blindly.
I should have been more gentle with the mirrors.
I shouldn’t have laughed, ever, about anything
without a tear in it. And an antidote. Elixirs and eclipses
happen all on their own but the calendar thinks they’re predictable.
Could be so, but that’s not been my experience.
This is. Shining in the dark with stars, candles and fireflies
that look like the women I’ve known like vases and urns
you can’t plant flowers in you can ever give back again.
More of a gift than anything I’ve ever earned before.
I’m learning to sway with rain river reeds, little pills
and supernovas, seastars and the Circlet of the Western Fish
as if we were all learning to play the guitar together, every man
and woman for himself, together again, pain or no pain,
or a promoter of health that’s discovered it’s all healthy
even when it’s terrible. Every blade of stargrass. Herb.
And, yes, even the carnivorous moon with her royal flush
of talons and a torn bird. Be good. Be bad. Be inquisitive.
Be kind. Be still. Be silent as the wind blows through the cave
and you’re sure it’s a spirit. Don’t teach the trees sacrilege.
You get the point. There is none. You have to make one.
And stick to it like the capitol of a country somewhere
in your afterlife like the future memory of a prophecy that came true.
Me I like the trees swaying, cold aspen leaves, flames
of the sumac singing phoenix songs around a fire the ghost dancers
will tell you had nothing to do with it. But they could be wrong
about that. I’ve known root fires sing the same song
until an apple blossom came along and knocked them off their feet.
Got to say it, too sweet for me as I aged, more isolation
in the cellar, and the dreams heat up and blood grows darker
than any night it’s ever known before. But the stars,
what could even Buddha Pinocchio say about the stars
without making a fool of himself he intended? The blood sees
what your nose smells and you can trust it. You’ve got to
percolate the wine sometimes. Put bubbles in it outside around a fire
you really need. Give the dragon some respect. Dragons
bleed sunsets with no regrets that aren’t true. Lizards
are another matter, but it’s ok if they’re blue and they’re swaying.