Deliverance

Out for Delivery

I’m getting the part I need
For my ship, then I’m outta here

It’s just a hubcap, but some galaxies
You just don’t cruise in a beater

You earthlings are just too much
Y’all like me-me-me, and a no-no-no

Get-get-get, and a go-go-go
Peace it out or blow it to bang-bang

I’d get back to the home planet
But it’s the same shit everywhere, like

Deliverance is no cake walk, yo

How to Abide on Queue

be calmer than an earlobe
but alert to subtle sound
quiet as a muscle twitch
as sterling as a pound

be lofty like the heavens
as consistent as a judge
unattached as fleeting clouds
be disinclined budge

reflective like a polished tile
be brighter than a flame
stoic as a VP’s portrait
valid as a claim

right like rain, and true as grit
determined as a dog
be quiet like a bell rope
and well rested as a log

be patient as a telephone
and sounder than a ring
stiller than a sheeted corpse
but proper, like a king

be ready like a boxer’s glove
for when they call it out
a name upon the intercom
it’s you, there is no doubt

.

A Medical History

The last 24 hours: six a.m. eating breakfast I bite my tongue really hard on the side and it hurts quite a bit. I finish breakfast contemplating mindfulness in general and mindful eating in particular – I am thinking about mindfulness, mind you, not actually being mindful.

There is a pain in my jaw from the day before that can’t decide if it is a toothache or a headache. My memory of it calls forth the actual sensation – don’t think about it! My tongue hurts for the next eight hours. At lunch I eat some junk food and feel full of stomach and depleted of spirit – my tongue seems acutely aware of the nearby gnashing teeth, fresh is its memory from this morning and it is still sore.

After lunch I develop a thick feeling in my throat and it is awkward to swallow – I ignore it and do my job all afternoon, preparing some items for a shipment with a nagging irritability lurking around my work area.

Early evening I have no appetite. I watch some of the film called Babel and when Cate Blanchett is struck by the bullet, which has a complicated history, I think about how many causes lay hidden in the scenery of our plodding days, unbeknownst to us. I visualize myself as the Medicine Buddha for a moment and become a light-filled mandala hosting every living being, human in form, Buddha in essence, from the past, present and future, and everything functions as medicine, even poison. Back to the movie. Everyone in the film is either making bad decisions or dealing with their consequences – this goes for the one watching the film too.

I have no known allergies to any medications. Check. My maternal grandmother had diabetes. Check. My deductible on prescription medicine is outrageous and I relive a bad memory in which I accused, in an unpleasant phone call many years ago, an insurance rep of malfeasance after receiving a letter saying my policy would not cover a condition which they had determined I was susceptible to: I stopped short of calling the man a heartless grifter, however, in a follow-up email I did suggest to him that he seek an honorable line of work before it was too late – deathbed regrets are not a treatable condition.

At around nine p.m. I head to bed, my bodily condition seeming like a profound irrelevancy. My aches, pains, worries and anxieties, complaints in general, are like a ship full of waving vacationers leaving the harbor, setting sail on the ocean at large in a vessel lighter than water, heavier than air, and stocked with delightful amenities.

As I drift off to sleep I wonder briefly what the weather will be tomorrow.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)


Died December 10, 1968

50 years ago today, Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk, writer, outspoken man of peace and sanity in the emerging age of nuclear weapons was accidentally* killed by a malfunctioning electric fan at his guest cottage in Thailand.

* Since there was no autopsy, there was no suitable explanation for the wound in the back of Merton’s head, “which had bled considerably.” (wikipedia)

Fifty Gallon Drum

(Another notebook dump where the yammers have gathered like little critters nesting in the walls.)

-:-

They didn’t drain the swamp, they drained
the brains. Are the valves not properly labeled?

-:-

The day will come to grind it
And tomorrow comes behind it
Too bad you can’t unwind it
Take comfort where you find it

-:-

I think people who identify as skeptics are overreacting to the error of blind faith, which they rightly fear when they see it take hold of others. They overcompensate in their belief that blind faith is the only kind there is. But evidence is accepted on a reasoned faith—that subtle errors or deliberate deceptions have not slipped into the conclusion at hand. In the end: a little leap of faith, because facts are endless and it is literally impossible to consider each and every one. Reason cannot function without both faith and skepticism.

Faith on its own will likely run rampant without the skeptic to keep it in check. Skepticism on its own is just a brute prejudice, slamming doors shut for whatever notion it latches onto as valid, not at all unlike blind faith.

The third leg of reason’s little stool is called curiosity, or wonder.

-:-

They dismiss the supposedly irrigorous logic as magical thinking, as if the intellect was the retainer and not the retained. As if thinking itself is not magic!

-:-

They say you should choose your fights but I never find any I like.

-:-

How many nihilists does it take to not be?

A nihilist is an eternalist who has resolved the first of the two errors.

A nihilist walks into a bardo…

-:-

We working class white people who do not think ourselves the powerful oppressors of others should still contemplate the level of privilege upon which we operate: I can drive to the store and never have to think about being pulled over, arrested, or even shot, after having been seen doing nothing more than driving down the street.

-:-

When it comes to the sun I try not to look at the bright side.

-:-

If you’re somebody, you better watch what you say.
If you’re nobody, it’s better to keep it that way.

-:-

Worry is an outlier indulgence, mentally going to the place you are afraid you’ll end up, while the remedies to impending troubles are left neglected, undone.

-:-

The knees, they do a thankless job
Midway twixt the heel and hip
Protruding like a misplaced knob
To cap the pavement when you trip

-:-

Sometimes I stick my head in an empty 50 gallon drum and speak loudly the things that might otherwise go here.

-:-

Not being nothing, space fulfills form. Not being something, form fulfills space. Not two, yet not not-two. Not something, not nothing.

-:-

I’m not a pull-string
talking doll, y’all, but
sometimes the things
I say: no way.

The phrase automatic
on instant recall, someone
come finish this for me
okay?

-:-

A lot of people take things for granted, but in stores they call that shoplifting.

-:-

I wonder what would happen if they pressed all my buttons at once and I collapsed without recourse into a short-circuited heap of malfunctioning habitual responses.

-:-

Knee-deep in needy
wit’ a dolly made a hay
all she wanna do be holler
golly all a day.

(to be accompanied by banjo and Jew’s harp)

What All

or, real as a
boulder clutched by five
hundred-year-old roots
in the fluid of a mountain’s
gradual crest

or, our own
skeletons remain
clutched by continuity
in the fluid of a moment’s
gradual assumption

assume rise
crest fall, and
what all

Why So Quiet?

I look, dumbfounded, at the
world, I think of my mom
saying, “don’t stare, it’s rude.”

I look away, in a
hasty search for a new fixation
and think of my dad
saying, “finish what you started.”

I look down at
my shoes, and think
of everyone who ever asked
me, “why so quiet?”

Tread Wear

Steel Belted Radials

They don’t make movies like
they used to, he said, but they
never made tires like this—then he
says it: haltingly, wistfully, as if
it were a line from a popular ballad

Steel Belted Radials

as if Leonard Cohen himself
were standing there before you
casting tire-buying spells with
magical incantations and smiles
backed up by the pedigree of
a pure bred confidence

Steel Belted Radials

spinning, orbiting
they sing against the pavement
with a melody above, apart
from the automotive implication
of a sure grip on a slick surface
or a rolling rampart

against punctures, evoking
scenes of roadside despair
with passengers pressing sad faces
against rain speckled windows
as you labor with a jack handle
against fate itself

Steel Belted Radials

upon the radiant bearings of
the gods, such a car would soar
on a cushion of air, uplifting
inspired, like an ode to a planet
draped gloriously in robes of
carbon monoxide, cinched by cords
of endless highway

Steel Belted Radials

you reach for your wallet
like a magistrate for his gavel
to the background hum of a
grinding economy, and spit gravel
peeling out of the flag-draped lot
and drive, you drive back to the

bottoms where your domain asserts
a stubborn little imprint, the tread sipes
in a dirt driveway, within patterns too
large and convoluted to comprehend
perhaps, and the radio is tuned
to a country song about disgrace
and redemption