Sunday, August 13, 2017

being / not being - the sonnet

This morning when taking a pee i was not greeted with the same automatic light which had informed me earlier in the night of my existence; aside from an empty bladder, there was a moment of relief which one instinctively feels in the absence of anything automatic, but that was soon followed by the plausible reality that world leadership had gone completely off the rails and a nuclear option had severed a major aspect of our current understanding of civilization - electricity. Satisfying my lessor craving for tobacco outside, i was also able to verify the street lamps were on, but not whether our neighbors suffered a similar outage. Having lit a candle and placing it on the stairs for my kind friends, i began to calculate the complexities of life without electricity including what to do about my computer battery - at 26%, now 24%. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have an occupation such as writing with which to explore feelings of panic, depravation and curiosity when faced with circumstances of such consequence, though it is unlikely that i’d resort to writing longhand should my battery expire prior to my access to electricity. That is to me a bizarre commentary on my commitment to the written word, but then again, since waking, i’ve considered the very real possibility that my world might have been expunged at the hands of a “leader” - an even more bizarre commentary. I think i’ll have a cigarette, a marginally less bizarre commentary on my existence (23%). I guess whether or not my desire to express my self is greater than the convenience afforded me by technology is really the question.

Of late, I have begun to wonder about the utility of expression when what i wish to say runs counter to the prevailing sentiments of so many events in the world i am now living. It feels as though the body i inhabit is hard wired for survival and those organs provided me for such - sight, smell, awareness are being lulled into some cocoon of unreality by other expressions contending for consciousness. The sound of  rain on the roof and the familiar smell of moisture on the ground outside my window are as ancient as damp fur on my forefathers, yet the possibility extinction based on information at hand runs counter to the calm provoked by shelter from the rain in earlier days of our history - The electricity has now been restored, but the safety of light which must have provided security for our forebears only seems to exacerbate my feelings of precariousness - why do you suppose that is¿ In engineering one of the foundations of design is repeatability; if we are entering an epoch of intermittent utilities, would it not be wise to cultivate tolerance for outage, be that food, water, electricity, and g_d help us - the absence of the internet. In a capitalist society such as ours where the ruling elite seem inured to the difficulties they have created for an unwitting population, it makes no sense to look to the profit model as a solution to the shortages that are absolutely present, and which will only grow in severity and scope.

I do not see reform as viable or correct - all i can muster is as intense an application of those skills which i have learned, challenge me to my utmost and provide a sense of accomplishment. If this means that i am being myself - good. Whether this selfish inner direction can provide an example of how to live beyond the consumer addiction to which we have been indoctrinated, i can’t know. I have no confidence in mobs or group-think so persuasion of any kind of anyone is suspect to me. Yet i care deeply about the injustice and ignorance which fosters hatred and grasping concern for one’s own well being. I can only take care of myself and extend to as many as i may without taking on water. This selfishness of mine torments me when i see rafts of human beings being plundered and shipwrecked by those from whom the refugees of our age would seek haven. What is the solution, and how could a solitary life of creativity possibly contribute to a new world? I am not a saint, yet it would seem our times are demanding the best from all of us. In my own experience, i have found i do not possess the inner fortitude for selfless devotion, except, as Arundhati Roy said so well, “chasing beauty to her lair”. I am grateful to the current American Chief Executive for no other reason than giving a face to the vanity to which i believe the entire planet has succumbed. This is a remarkably harsh and unforgiving judgement, but i include my own quest for excellence in the equation. I can see no other reason to apply myself, if it is not to accomplish the finest work i know how, and that is sad.

Not perhaps as sad as assessing my success by the number of bytes i can catalogue on a financial server, or evaluate my humanity by the number of other human beings who agree with me. Michelangelo painted a view of himself as the skin of a human being hanging from the hand of Saint Peter; when asked why, Michelangelo replied, and i paraphrase, “when i die, i wish to have emptied myself of all that i was meant to create.” The logic of such a pursuit makes perfect sense to me, much more sense than qualifying my merit based on publication or shows which some critic or patron has facilitated for my dubious creative skills. I don’t know what it means to be, and that may be my most successful creative effort - to possess doubt in a world full to the gills with certainty. I have learned many things about the external world - ideas about family, about love - esoteric knowledge of little worth to anyone but those with some curiosity, but the most difficult subject i’ve ever encountered has been to know myself. To date, i have only a vague idea of the hazy outlines which might begin to suggest who i am, much less what i am. Why is that¿ It is not for a lack of curiosity; when one does things which result in a totally different outcome than expected, it is logical to ask why. After decades of attributing results to _________ fill in the blank, the only plausible explanation is to seek an answer within for those unexpected outcomes. The corollary would then become what personal role does one attribute to expected results. Is it skill, determination, merit, or ___________ fill in the blank.

The difficulty with this line of thinking would be the enormity of our world, meaning the expanding universe and the fact that we can never be anymore than that of which we are comprised, gas, molecules, protoplasm, minerals, gravity, wavelength, etc., etc., etc. Idiomatically, are we more than the sum of our parts¿ How could anyone possibly answer that question with a straight face when we have no real idea of just how extensive those parts are, or what parts are missing from our primitive catalogue of knowledge¿ These are the questions i come up with when attempting to “know myself.” Is it simply a case of will¿ Can one wake up one morning and say, I will become president of the United States, and epso facto - voila - one is president; it would seem so based on the current political terrain. The deeper question for me is, who would want to be the president, and why; who would want to be the richest human being in the world or the fastest, smartest or most beautiful when one can just be happy¿ Sounds goofy, i know, but is it any goofier than spending one’s entire life acquiring things someone else said they should have, and then going to work to pay for those things because someone else said you couldn’t have them if you didn’t earn them. What does that even mean - to earn. Have i earned the right to express myself¿ Apparently I have, because i am. Yet with each passing day, there are more and greater attacks on that ability, nor are the attacks solely on our capacity for expression; now the attacks are on our right to exist. This i will never cede. I came here i know not why, but i do know any force other than that which is greater than the sum of my parts is the only force which i will acknowledge; i have yet to learn what that means, but i will keep seeking answers with or without permission from the “know it all” shot callers attempting to define what it means to be. 


not being - the sonnet

prior to the big bang there was something
the event horizon is not the end
our presence or absence is not nothing
and all in between is more than a trend

up, down, in, out, on, off may be our lot,
so why do we squirm so vigorously?
Is there meaning from the steam off our pot¿
Do we make matter from mortality?

Is it possible our lives radiate
outward like the big bang forever more
still emitting once we de-animate
like some odd Hawking black hole metaphor 

who gives a fuck ¿ we are the mystery
our legacy - whose memory are we

jts 08/12/2017 
reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

communication - an essay / silence - the sonnet

My father was given to homilies, and i remember hanging up from phone calls with him where he’d invariably close the call saying “communicate.” Like all good advice, it’s easy to hear - a little more difficult to put into practice. I have read where a huge percentage of all human communication involves body language. We derive a great deal of information from cues found in the posture and carriage of other human beings - filling language with elegant phrases like “turn of a woman’s ankle.” The question becomes what is understood by whom based on what¿ I can say with good authority that many a woman’s turned ankle was saying nothing at all to me; ah misunderstanding and what it can teach us if we are good students. Awareness is a solid partner to the barely understood and often maligned effort which communication brings to any exchange. In order to convey a thought or feeling, one must have an idea or sense that might be of interest to the right party. Not all turned ankles are speaking directly to you; so how to learn which ankle is the one that beckons with all the delight and joy that might accompany such a quiet expression¿ I’m beginning to have my doubts that a computer is capable of conveying such complicated communication; which if true, means that communicating the fundamental nature of allure via screen does not bode well for parsing the manifest other pressing misunderstandings in our rapidly devolving civil fabric, much less the rapidly evolving isolation of the human soul.

My skin is the boundary of my self-awareness with my aged senses informing a fading echo of the sharp rich odors and sounds of youth. However, as with all vacuums, the fallow field wants to grow something. It is almost as though as the world recedes with all its attendant distractions the stranger i’ve avoided all my life grows more confident that it might be heard. Memories become just that, faded echoes of events no longer present to the senses - love, hate, want, misery. All once vivid demands from a complex interchange of indoctrination, assimilation and socialization now cardboard cutouts with balloon voices repeating ancient litanies about exhausted turmoil. The stranger within is vastly more comfortable with these specters of past power than what my withering “i” is willing to accede. The self once so intent on satisfaction of all urges has trouble ceding ground that doesn’t result in accomplishment or gain, while the stranger seems more content just to be heard. However, like the honest misunderstanding of the lady’s “turn of an ankle,” simply because my quiet stranger was not the one being addressed at the time does not mean the dame’s own stranger was not expressing a want, just not a want for me. My internal stranger conveys much want when not shouted over by what Leonard Cohen wrote as “the blizzard of the world” or at least that is what i’m beginning to hear. Perhaps my life would simplify if i just allowed my interior to speak its desire and fly with any yes or no reply. 

I accept that any reader considering the forgoing abstruse dialogue would require persistence to locate meaning, yet if there is this much difficulty for one person to make clear basic ideas about self-awareness, how much more difficult must it be for all of us to discuss with others far more complex issues such as shame, fury, fear or hatred, most especially in a media culture filling itself up to the rafters on scandal and excess¿ For myself it has become very important to learn how to hear without taking a position, save understanding. Is the woman’s ankle turn addressing me; is my prostate hardening; is the war i object to mine; is en vino veritas true - ad nauseam¿ That the universe could be as curious as i aspire to is very encouraging, yet if i’m as obstinate a student as when young, what could i possibly learn from a curious universe whatever its dimensionality¿ Awareness is a correlation of communication in so far as one can barely speak of what isn’t known - an interesting intersection in the top secret world of ours. A paradox for me is the concept of what can possibly be known outside of one’s own self. If love is relinquishing: where love predominates will is absent; where will predominates, love is absent - paraphrasing Carl G. Jung, what can i affect but myself. So too with awareness, craving a woman will teach me very little about her, while watching her ankles can be quite instructive.

Understanding the world and possible meanings of reality about our existence is not going to give up much ground from a frontal assault. I could join a militia that adheres to my particular flavor of freedom and proceed to take no prisoners, but then i couldn’t sit here and share my confusion with others as puzzled as myself, possibly more so - maybe you will help me find other members of my tribe - stranger things have happened¿ I’m becoming more certain that fun, nee happiness is closer to the core than anything normally   found virtually anywhere, and its far cheaper - air travel being the climate change elephant with its footprints in the jello, so to speak. You didn’t really think tripadvisor, hostelworld, couchsurfing etc., etc., etc., were just touching base to know you’se well - didja¿ Wherever you go - there you are. The dilemma goes back to an argument i had with a young engineer - his position being “knowledge is finite” vs my continued belief how can you say what you don’t know. Are we species simply the micro to the universal macro¿ Rumi says we are not a drop in the ocean, but the ocean in a drop. If true, introspection takes on a whole new wrinkle. What if my reticent stranger whom i am only beginning to appreciate was actually “the” stranger and we are just notes in g_d’s song¿ As yet, i’ve never read anything to prove this potentially heretical idea false, but the administration is young still. What is useful regards an honest desire to communicate¿ This is a complex question for me because there are many who are close and not so close who would, if not shut me up altogether, then at the very least have license over my tongue. This awareness is grievous, but i’m unsure whose sadness it is. My stranger has heard awful things spoken yet because it has never harmed me as the faded echoes of memory have, i feel more safe with myself than anyone i’ve ever known, and i’ve known some very loving people in my very fortunate existence.

The further i travel the greater the mystery; i will feel better when i can say the same for fun, nee happiness. I know the essence of my happiness is not virtual; the corollary would be that my faded memories left because i no longer made them happy - it would be insane to believe oneself so powerful as to make another happy, unhappy, angry, sad, strong, weak, better or less. I have found i am more comfortable with crazy people once i learned it is not contagious, but it can be a perilous contact high if they are beautiful or hallucinating. My deeper concern is welcoming home the stranger who has patiently waited to share my heart’s desire. I believe it be nearly impossible to give kindness to another if one has not found within one’s own skin a deep and abiding warm regard for one’s life. I also believe that if one acts from this warm regard it is possible to know better one’s own pain, suffering and inimical factotum born of our collective history within a dark and sometimes dangerous world. The fact remains the more things change, the more they remain the same and it will likely be true as it is now that when you are born crying while everyone around you’s laughing; and when you die laughing, those around will be crying. But the in-between time when you have the opportunity to “leave the world a better than you found it” - Jane Sterling, is where your internal quiet stranger has a chance for redemption and reintegration if one can still hear the serenade of a mother’s laughter or cadence of prayer in a father’s important lesson throughout the places one visits or rests one must acknowledge with respect to our human frailty.


silence - the sonnet

it is quiet on a Sunday morning
but somewhere in the world there’s too much noise-
crying in the eyes of children mourning
something that can’t be done with any poise.

what is the sound beyond the human grief-
is it love, or an infant in deep sleep¿
why is our good ship earth stuck on a reef
so dire, while the good captains make no peep¿

is a tornado core eerie’n silent?
is our world a tornado core- passing
with zephyr winds foretelling bad intent,
or have we learned and all our hearts massing¿

it seems to me the quiet that is found
while loud beats calm with silence all around
jts 06/30/2017 

reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

asleep - an essay / awake - the sonnet

While growing up, my mother suffered from insomnia, her suffering strongly affected my attitude toward rest and alertness - without rest one cannot be alert - fatigued, burdened, fearful - but not alert. I equate alertness to awareness, an innate capacity to respond to the manifold nuances within the world. Just now I chose to forego work on a drawing I’d very much like to finish because my rest was incomplete. I slept deeply, but had troublesome dreams. This may very well be because I’m traveling back to the region wherein I grew up, mostly to visit my mother. We have mended our fences as well as any 88 year-old parent and 63 year-old offspring could with a history such as ours. Nor will i bore you with the morbid blow by blow; suffice it to say i got everything i deserved as a snot faced wooly mammoth teenage wannabe; she, i have to believe, was as entertained as any post war divorcee with a career could have possibly been. They were very intense days, but manageable. At that time in history there was no concession to the decay of civilization - you were either awake and propagating all that was promised by the burgeoning technology which landed a man on the moon, or you were hunkering down, battening the hatches and pulling up the rope ladders. The conceit that this was a unique time in human history evaporated with the election of Richard M. (I am not a crook) Nixon. There has been much hash made over the drug induced fantasies of that time; speak only for myself, it was not recreational - social networking perhaps, entrepreneurial even, but mostly a vehicle for enlarging consciousness. I can’t say given follies of reflection when old, how much was a function of naivete or how much was a sharp perception honed on the brashness of youth. I can say my experiences were eye opening. What fell away, or was torn asunder was the simple confidence in status quo. I question everything, but mostly myself.

Drug deals gone bad are hard on idealism, for witnessing deaths from excess sap one’s faith. Yet I watch horrified as a generation of coop-shopping hipster doofuses acquiesce to the poisoning of the food chain and the shackling of our attention span on screens the size of baseball cards while extolling the virtues of a democratic corporate shill simply based on her plumbing. I wonder what lessons my fellow americans learned during the slow motion coup d’etat that began with the seduction of Pete Rose, and climaxed with coronation of Mr. M.T. Suit. I am guilty myself and know very well the temptations of socialization. It began with therapy, which i advocate if you have a strong sense of self and resistance to indoctrination and terminated with over a decade of relative good living as an aerospace drudge. To my credit, i invested the excess lucre into a bachelor’s degree in English believing at the time i could transition as a teacher. It was too late for me, my taint from designing weapons provoked so much reservation about the logic of our world that i was unable to reconcile the differences between the obvious needs of an inner city student body aware that it was being warehoused with the newly ensconced “leave no child behind,” a polite euphemism for “teach them what ‘we’ want them to know, and to hell with what they want to learn.” It is hard to distinguish within the arc of happenstance how i got inoculated from the dream of make amerika gr8 again, but these notes into the aether will clarify how ill i am, susceptible to contagion and incomplete that inoculation might have been, if at all. The best i can do is fight the fatigue that comes from a culture designed for the leisure of handful at the expense the whole.

I don’t know what parts of my psychic makeup have not awakened, but i do find it nearly impossible to turn a blind eye to the desecration and destruction of our world. My youthful disillusionment has certainly sharpened my bullshit meter, yet i’ve returned to smoking and drinking with all the attendant rationalizations for such destructive habits - why is that¿ I have convinced myself that purity of purpose has no relationship with reality if it is conducted within a vacuum, so to be truly pure requires contamination with the vices of our existence. “Emotional masturbation” you might say, and “why not but i prefer copulation” might be my reply. I do know the more conviction i felt about what is right the greater my dissonance - the inclination to sully is mine alone. There is no Marlboro Man i can point to and say, “it was his fault” - the equivalent would be pointing at the followers of Muhammad and condemning them for violence in the world. I am my own worst enemy and my sole loving companion be that in the midst of hordes or in loving embrace. Woman, when I carved my first statue, it was out of a limestone tailing off of a Manhattan demolition; I included amongst the minutia an arrogant young artist full of confidence might pursue, a vedanta pulling the veil from a man seated in a lotus posture. Where is that vedanta now, or are you she and just to shy to say so¿ It is i who is too shy or wary; just this morning i conflicted myself over whether to accost a young woman walking in the rain so as to loan her my umbrella just inside the door in my backpack. Months earlier i had made a similar gesture to a young merchant at a festival out of concern for his mother getting wet - he kept the umbrella. I am not one to quibble over chump change, but the question remains was my reservation to share with someone in need a punishment of the transgressor, or to myself for a lack of clarity in purpose? I don’t know. Is the nature of internal conflict knowable?

Is there a corollary between knowledge and understanding? We live in a world awash in knowledge, and some people who know me seem afraid of questions I ask - why is peace on earth impractical¿ How can 7 billion people allow themselves to be bullied by the population of a small village? Are you angry with me¿ Am i angry with you? What is death¿ etc., etc., etc. .  . My suspicion is that facts matter, but my downfall would be “what is a fact¿” When young and at art school, i read a quote by one of the surrealists in effect “when i came to understand atomic physics, it seemed the world dissolved in front of me.” Somehow this memory was intertwined with the image of the fur-lined teacup - modern information superhighway could only find an echo, or source document depending, from Wassily Kandinsky substituting dissolved for destruction. The fact is, i did not conjure the memory but find little trace of its existence in a world awash with information. I know where i am in the “universe,” but don’t know what i am or what a universe is. I know there are men alive on my planet who are killing each other over the meaning of and act of the word “love,” and/or permission to love that deity which they understand. My sense is god is a woman with a very finely tuned sense of humor, but her bivouac lacks entertainment, so i’m it. When she is bored synchronicity is triggered and i find myself knee deep in something seeming to me - unfunny. The Great Spirit has my back, so i remain unafraid - too fucking exposed, but unafraid. I have learned that if you do something long enough something will happen, so i try to find beauty where i can and regurgitate it as what the art market forces are paradoxically iridescently attracted to and simultaneously repelled by. I also know it is bad form to end a sentence with a preposition and/or a prepositional phrase; both of which just did i.

I find it helpful if i close my eyes to sleep repeating a mantra i made up as compactly as layman might slows me down enough for rest: may you be free of suffering, may you be free of the roots of suffering; may you enjoy happiness, may you enjoy the roots of happiness; breathe in love, breathe out simplicity, patience, compassion. Because i integrate this repetition into the rudimentary isometrics and more brief Qi Gong i subject my battered wannabe corpse to each morning there’s a visceral echo throughout the day i like. Just like the pushing through the confusion at the beginning of any project for the breakthrough that makes it seem as though you are rolling a big rock down a low sloped hill slowly, rather than eternally damned with one sort of raptor or another making mincemeat out of your innocent good intention. What is wakefulness when perseveration interferes with mindfulness? How is it narcissism is poled with self respect, are we whipped dogs of some disembodied corporate shill, or 7 billion remarkably talented human beings of stupendous capacity for decent human warmth? I guess you can begin to see how some may take offense to my curiosity - Madam God and her minions are tireless in their quest of mirth. And i find myself a willing acolyte, for not knowing how to make someone laugh is the single best avenue to figuring that out - lucky me. It occurs to me if anyone finds a mystical resonance and chooses to congregate, i hope to aggregate a list of questions into the book of questions and leave it out in the aether for future +5v/-5v impulses to find correspondence. Sad the cryptic has offended the septic, whose roots were plucked by the aristocratic, in service of the plutocratic with nary a peep from the proletariat. C.G. Jung - “The pendulum of the mind swings between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.” By that logic nothing we can imagine in this world that makes sense to any one of us is verboten, how can we make that happen¿ just askin’ 

awake - the sonnet

i dreamt i was awake, but had to pee.
if true sleeping is just a little death
how can we do it so much and stay free¿
if my confusion offends, take a breath.

does anyone look out for anyone
hoping that they are good, safe and happy?
if not, it’d been better we were long gone
leaving those with balls and pussy to not flee.

yeah just a bunch of wiggling organisms
lost in a vacuum said is fraught with love
how would profit wrong, said the lower -isms
“easily” chirped back the broken winged dove.

laying her dying breast on a dead planet
she sang, all she knew with her heart in it.

jts 070717  reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

gone - an essay / going - the sonnet

I am leaving a place where i’ve lived for some 5 months. There are many conflicting emotions which i’d like to sort out if i knew how. Are humans capable of selecting what they feel, or is the challenge simply to recognize as much as possible the dimensions of one’s emotions - or a blend of both - to understand what one is experiencing and to then choose the “appropriate” response? i don’t know. It would certainly simplify most matters if we as a species could know as much as possible about what we are feeling at any given moment, and to then make an informed decision about which way to turn - fight or flight, as they describe the lizard reflex. It is 6:30 am on the day of my departure, and ordinarily i’d have spent the next 3 1/2 hours sucking on the internet tit, but mysterious circumstances have rendered the internet inaccessible. A suspicious component of my character attributes a petty vindictiveness by the proprietors of where i’m leaving, nor is my unease entirely a projection of the expected anxiety that attends moves such as i am undertaking. Part of the difficulty in going anywhere is to be where one is welcomed and comfortable; those conditions do not describe my current habitation, and there is no fault. There is little i can do to change the suspicious attribute in my character, for that would be like asking a leopard to change its spots, but there is much i can do about which behavior i choose for company. I’ve watched three biographies recently when access was allowed - John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Each of these stories described, in part, individuals who had been swallowed by the personas attributed to them by the coercion of fame. If i’ve stumbled into an environment where those in a position of responsibility would employ deprivation, be it internet, water, respect etc., to express a conflict in their hearts, the only rational response is warmheartedness regardless of how valid my suspicions might be.

I know very little about my destination, outside of its address and vicinity within a larger town. If my lack of access to the internet where i am is a desperate act expressing some inexpressible feeling, the compassion of warmheartedness is the most generous path i could choose and if the lack of internet service is simply the synchronicity of a greater mystery, then the logic of warmheartedness is a gift to myself as well as a suitable lens with which to gaze ahead into the unknown. Each of the writers mentioned above at the end of their lives seemed to have deprived themselves of this option, with two taking their own lives, and the 3rd dying from self inflicted cardiopulmonary collapse due to excessive drinking and smoking. I do know that each tackled the thornier issues of their day rather than slap a happy patina on their prose and upload content into the “clickbait factory” nee “dream machine”. Lao Tzu says “be content with what you have, and the whole world belongs to you.” I’ve thought of this often during the past 5 months, for there is much that is suitable about my lodging and i’ve accomplished good work, it is the sense of community that feels absent. This notion of community is a complex issue for me but is close to love of family, for that is what is left to me based on choices i’ve made in my life. One can never really remove oneself, or be removed from the birth family you were born into; where one chooses to live and keep one’s heart is an entirely different matter. I choose to be near any loving vibration because i have much to learn about how to manifest that sense. I am motivated partly by depravation like a thirsty traveler looking for moisture, but my travels have encouraged me to also see how thirsty all human beings are; where i am now leaving is a perfect example.

There is a tangible lack that seems to have informed every choice made in this environment; from an excessive dog pack, to manifold cisterns for holding water in a declining water table within a historical agricultural community. On the surface it would seem a copacetic, even idyllic site with ample, in a stinted kind of way, appointments. What is built into the situation that would not be expected based on its alternative-to-the-status-quo facade is a rigid ordinate/subordinate hierarchy replete with locked-away-tools, derogatory remarks about the worthiness of the area’s historical inhabitants and an almost palpable contempt for those they would ostensibly be hosting. I’ve done my level best to understand without judgement; i greatly admire the courage and pluck it took to uproot and build an estate in a foreign land; i have to ask myself at what cost¿ While weighing my decision whether to remain, knowing what i knew about the behaviors and prejudices of my hosts it was tempting to assume a superior air - if for no other reason than the illusion of autonomy within a deceptively closed society. But that is not helpful, nor warmhearted because i’d be simply be mimicking what i don’t understand. What i did find in my effort to understand was greater coercion to comply, and still i don’t understand . .  . two days later in my new digs: Polar opposites seems to characterize my life including the backseat-driver diagnoses of manic depression, blended with a touch of narcissism for taste my family uses to describe their various demons. Unfortunately one’s skin is not escapable, so i spend my time seeking peace with my demons and freedom from all fear.

My room opens into the main entrance hallway to the building; my bathroom windows open into the same hallway, so the sound of family dinners mixes nicely with whatever i may be watching as i go to sleep. The journey i’m on will not conclude here as far as i know, nor am i in any hurry to depart. The hosts are kindly, warm and native. Unbidden by me a nephew brought a board that had been fabricated to facilitate my drawing efforts - it was the single most kind gesture i can remember in my life. But this is the key, i felt no compulsion to accept. I can only hope my execrable translation adequately conveyed my astonished gratitude. I do not know the customs, but am counting on honesty to carry the day. It is too close to my demise to curry favor by accepting kindness that would not serve any purpose - i do not want to die fake. Like emerging from some sort of cocoon, over the past 5 months i’ve been forced to not only neuter a pathological hunger to help, but also tempt fate by honestly expressing what i need and don’t need. We, as a species, may have lost sight of the real journey’s that are our lives - transformation. I’m constantly struck by the transition of my own thinking - the wholesale rejection of previous convictions and prejudice in favor of more practical solutions; even the elusive avatar of self awareness seems to come in and out of focus. There are moments when i re-experience sentiments, glimpses of former realities as filtered through visceral memory like revisiting former haunts that remain similar but no longer contain any ghost of a former self - if that makes any sense.

I do know that just as we are a portable population more so than anytime in human history, so too is the terrain of our interiors subject to decisions of itinerary. We have the capacity to choose a destination and then take those steps necessary to arrive in the vicinity of that destination. But just like arriving someplace you’ve never been, it is impossible to know about the mystery and depth of your destination until you’ve undertaken the effort to satisfy your wants and needs. For example, if you decide that warmheartedness is the place you want to live, and you arrive there only to find yourself lacking nourishment and rest. It doesn’t mean that you are in the wrong place only that you haven’t yet found the resources that your unique character requires to thrive. What is important is that you are searching based on what you know about yourself, that which feeds your appetite. I am lucky to have learned that struggle is part of my hunger and that drawing and writing provide barriers to an easy satisfaction of that hunger. So i’ve learned patience for those stretches in the beginning of a project where hunger is enhanced like aromas from cooking. I now wait patiently for any point where starvation begins to abate; the trick is to let the pot simmer, and eat sparingly once the meal is cooked. I have found this metaphor works for most efforts to acclimate, be it a physical destination or the more challenging exploration of one’s internal dimensions. Wherever you travel, there will be unsavory dishes, and sometimes you will have nothing else to nourish you; be glad for what you are able to choke down having learned more about what you don’t enjoy; be comforted by the certain knowledge that if you are patient and have the confidence to continue your search, you will find provisions that satisfy whatever you have learned about your unique appetite and how to secure what provides you strength and happiness in this life. 


gone - the sonnet

the sun was up; i was already gone
it felt funny being someplace else so soon;
there was no reason to wait for the dawn,
anymore than there’d be waiting for noon.

If i was there no longer, where was i?
is “going down the road” a destination
anymore than where i was answered why¿
my company now is contemplation.

beats the shit out of traveling alone.
could that be the “why” i left where i was-
fighting for memory- dog and his bone.
i still feel lost in the land of “because”

no more to dwell in the land of knowing
‘cause answers for “why” are found when going.

jts 17 
reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Friday, June 9, 2017

loss - the essay / gain - a sonnet

“of all the things I’ve lost, the thing I miss the most is my mind” - A. Nonymous

I came home yesterday after an unexpected trip into town involving multiple busses and colectivo taxis only to find my keys gone. I rent, and relations with the landlords had been at a low ebb - it was not a happy moment. Once inside, i learned that the visa i believed to be out of reach was much nearer. Having two such contrary experiences in such proximity to each other can be disconcerting - whether to “laugh or cry” comes to mind. Bob Dylan has written “When you think you’ve lost everything, you find out you can always lose a little more.” I will rue his passing, not so much for myself because my own time is not so very far away, but for the loss to the world of such much needed wisdom about our human existence. My home has locks and keys for every door and most of the windows contain bars. My landlords are caring people making the most of a frontier experience, and the wealth of locking mechanisms reflect their concerns. It is not nice to have things taking away from you. However this is running counter to many things i am trying to understand about attachment and what is important. After my father passed away, i was in deep denial about the effect his death had on me. Nearly a decade later i am only beginning to recognize my impulse to repress many feelings, not just grief. It is as though the pain finds a way to be felt, regardless of any brave homilies one might evoke to get to the other side of discomfort. Yet with awareness and acknowledgement of pain comes growth. It is as though by the act of embracing discomfort one gains possession of a ghost, or more accurately light in a dark region of the soul.

According to my understanding Buddha said life is suffering, and that the cause of suffering is attachment. I admire Buddha very much, but do not consider myself a Buddhist - i’d be afraid of the attachment. Nor am i enamored of “things,” preferring a warm hearted woman to any cold beer i’ve ever had. G_d in her tender mercies made sure i learned attachment to a warm heart can be as lethal as any cold beer, only more so. The confusion of this lesson still resonates in distant parts of my being. The only solution i’ve found as yet is to be the warm heart for those still seeking what cannot be owned. Anymore, i’m losing confidence that anything in this material plane can be owned, including the mortal coil we all shuffle off. So how is it we as humans have dug ourselves this bottomless pit of violence and despair based on ownership? What is discernible about those who have achieved great possession, be it wealth, power or skill is the tangible sense of fear. It is as though beyond all appearances to the contrary the kernel of emptiness from such a quest rises like a cloud of smoke looking for fire. In the news Tiger Woods the golf prodigy was shown in a booking photo for drunk driving looking forlorn and haggard; i empathize, for i know that look well. However, there is nothing i can do to reverse that tape back to the Mike Douglas show when 2 year-old Tiger father was paraded by his father like a trained seal. Were that possible, i’d be tempted to strenuously object to Tiger’s father hijacking what didn’t belong to him - the happiness of another. Nor is this any of my business outside of provoking thought about possession and loss.

Just now i offered cold water to the harried half of my landlord’s team - she is bushwacking the immense yard they have secured for themselves through dogged determination and great bravery. Where we live can be quite hot, and from personal experience at bushwacking i believe in the power of cold water during great exertion - she declined; i can only try to understand. She may not have been thirsty, or had other reasons to decline. If i was strongly attached to dharma, i could feel much different about her rejection and have on many similar occasions. Part of my neurosis is to give compulsively. It may be from what i feel is empty within myself - kindness in this case. In many other instances, it is a spontaneous urge to help, and it doesn’t much matter who. What does matter is why. I am constantly surprised how often my help is declined, for example my friend whom i accompanied to town (in order to lose my keys) bought 4 large spools of yarn for his weaving business, i offered to share the burden in our journey back to the village, which he declined. It could be the logic of interpersonal dynamics demanding that i help myself, or it could be that i am not seeing clearly the needs of others - I don’t know. Even this writing labor of love is tainted by the confusion of motivation. Do I press on paragraph after paragraph due to some vain effort to vanquish a self-imposed working solitude with an illusion of high minded purpose¿ If so, does that reflect my conflict with dharma, or a fundamental lack of understanding about “good works”¿ There seems to be a huge disconnect in logic between what i am willing to do of free will with that of circumstances where i feel manipulated into giving, and i am confused.

My same living circumstance includes a metal frame veranda that has been waiting 3 months for a bamboo covering. Initially, i was taken out into the local fields in search of bamboo after a weekly shopping excursion. I felt resentful and hostile that my time was being taken from me without consultation at a time when i was in a pitched battle with a drawing project - the insinuation that the bulk of this effort was to fall in my lap became apparent soon enough; i balked. Now 3 months later, the bamboo was cut and delivered to the lawn in front of my casitas. 3 of us waded into the pile stripping stalks from the poles. I joined in, because that is how i’m built. It came time to break in the heat of the day; however three days later when there was no forward progress stripping stalks, i felt compelled to assume this responsibility, why is that¿ I’d convinced myself that it was for my domicile, so it was logical to contribute - but that is personally dishonest; invariably my willingness to extend myself in a fair fashion with this couple is not reciprocated. Is that loss or theft¿ What is it that i am attached to which is provoking such existential confusion, even motivating me to move elsewhere in the delusion that anything anywhere else will be different¿ Weeks earlier a new tenant and i were separated from the landlords during the weekly shopping excursion, i suggested she call them; she handed me her phone and i explained to the landlords we’d be too late for any rendezvous. When she and i returned to her car, she discovered her phone gone and became apoplectic accusing me of leaving her phone or worst taking it.

I liked this lady, and found myself shutting down to her, even to my living circumstances which prior to this had been tolerable. Meanwhile my sister introduced a logistical wrinkle for a family heirloom that soured for the time being - these are objects and buildings dislocating relations between people. Has it always been this way with humans¿ My last communication to my sister was asking if she knew our brother had, or was about to have major surgery - i’ve not heard back. How has it come about that inanimate objects have gained precedence over human emotion¿ Have we gained anything in a world of locks, heirlooms or attachment to conditions of success¿ Our wars increase and our future existence has become uncertain. Happiness has become a business and self knowledge a fearful domain remedied by more expense paid to professionals. What if there was no such thing as loss¿ What would happen if we listened to the wise, and trained ourselves to value nothing more than the ability to help another for no other reason than the certain knowledge that the only value of any worth is an open contribution to the wellbeing of another¿ There certainly was another time in our human existence that this was certainly true, otherwise you would not be reading for the simple reason our species would not have survived as long as it has. I cannot protect myself from loss, not by currying favor with strangers under the guise of dharma or amassing weapons, ammunition and impenetrable barriers between myself and others. The best thing i can see for me to do is gently mine the depths of my own confusion with whatever method or means that reveals more of the emerging self that remains warm and loving toward others under the broadest spectrum of circumstance.

gain - a sonnet
how did i come out ahead with such pain¿
who’d want to look a gift horse in the mouth?
why does so much strife accompany gain¿
do all freebies become vet bills going south¿

how is yoking the young to clocks worthwhile
when some take more walking to their cars than 
some earn in a lifetime lifting “the” pile?
-you paying for that last ride in the van¿

will any human become a star echo?
was your last great effort worth all the time 
it took away from watching your child grow,
or prevent your body from becoming slime¿

will words of any kind ever favor
what we have lost by our worst behavior?

jts 060917 

reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

Friday, June 2, 2017

man - an essay / woman - the sonnet

Percy Sledge is playing and it is raining - likely the next 10 or so days. I find it difficult to publish my last essay on ma, not because i feel shame for what i’ve written as honestly as i know, but because i have concern that it may cause harm to another. I consider myself fortunate to have such reservations in a world seemingly gorged on blood. I will reluctantly post my thoughts about my parent, for that is what i have grown to believe men do - the difficult thing. It is difficult to know what criteria to apply when fulfilling such an open ended obligation, however honestly acquired. Do i, as is done every day by the U.S. Military, slaughter scores of innocents to protect the lives of a handful of aristocratic oil executives, or do i give up my life in the name of a principle i cherish, such as peace - as was done recently by very brave souls in Portland Oregon¿ Who is to say what is manly¿ Is it the father that beats his son senseless, because that is how the father was raised, and it is all he knows? Or is it that child who, when grown, understands the mindless stupidity of violence and like a blind person in a maze feels his way toward a different life without knowing where it will lead¿ Is that the essence of courage, to acknowledge a wrong you know in your heart to be foul, and rather than adhere to a known condition, strike out for untrammeled paths searching for a solution¿ I don’t know. I do know that if we as a species do not come up with a more benign appreciation for strength we’ve come to understand as “might is right”, then we are doomed.

I understand fear, so i know what it means to want to be scary like the hissing cobra with it’s hood, or the snarling dog backed into a corner with its dander up. That bluff has worked from time to time, though the damage it has done to my deeper purpose may not heal before i shuffle off this mortal coil. Can’t say when i first understood the power of love, or that i understand it now. What i do know is the difference between love and hate, having been consumed by both at different times - sometimes for the same reason. Yeah, you guessed it, women - ain’t she magic - lucky men. Is luck enough, not by a long shot. Is work the answer¿ If it is, the advent of robotics is about to put a lot of us shit out of luck. Is it intellect that distinguishes us from the other species¿ Tell that to the whales and other marine mammals possessing beyond keen hearing having their acoustic capabilities blown to smithereens by technology developed by very, very smart humans. Once on a bus in Bali, i was holding forth with my reservations about the odds of human survival to an urbane French journalist who looked at me and quipped, “we will survive, because of greed.” For the longest time, i wanted to believe; his comment gave me hope. As many have learned, or hopefully learned, the audacity of hope is not enough. It will require a resolve that we have not yet witnessed as a species. We must resolve to help the other survive. If we cling to the notion of survival based on the perfectly natural concept of self vs other, we like a tree comprised of a gazillion independent cells each working entirely on its own behalf will wither and die before it ever reaches the light of die - not unlike this evolutionary dead end at which we as a species have now arrived.

The antiquated notion for any manner of definition about gender which if understood and applied correctly will result in a life of ease, riches and abundant blessings is laughable, but not funny. My own father had very definite ideas about what it means to be a man, replying to my young question about how to know when a woman loves you - “when she acquiesces.” Like myself, he was a hopeless romantic in many ways; i do not share this with embarrassment, but to openly challenge the myth of fixed and immutable values - a gift from my father that keeps on giving. However, it is important to distinguish between the circumstantial ethics all the rage in leadership circles today and the ability to openly and honestly examine one’s own beliefs. The cut-and-paste ethos permitting one segment of our civilization to ravage at will is a sleight of hand like the shell game with more the pee. When it came time for pop to reexamine his beliefs, he employed logic and fairness, acquiescing himself thoughtfully to a changing landscape; what he did not do was employ one set of values for himself and another for others - that to me is honor. When he was faced with injury or personal setback, he would look deeper into his core beliefs for understanding and awareness, rather than abandon personal responsibility which was for him the keys to the kingdom of personal development - a domain he occupied with gusto, reflected in his wry unrelenting embrace for fun laced with meaning - meaning being the key. So strong was his need to understand, and to help others, he’d grasp unwitting guest by the lapels and pull them close to ask “why are you here on earth?”

How many of us have come to terms with this question, much less inspired others to seek their own answer¿ I resort to repeating anecdotes from pa attempting to parse meaning from mayhem - it may not bear fruit for anyone but myself, and that is just enough. I’ve come to understand that the opinion of others, while helpful for that instant, has little bearing on the personal struggle for that discipline necessary to sift through any history, searching for bits and pieces of existence which when glued together become a collage recognizable to others as a useful part of existence. While effort can, at times, be too much fun, it still requires a persistence not unlike lugging a sled to the top of the hill for the thrill of riding down, or the repair of a flat bicycle tire knowing how much pleasure can be found in-between flat tires. The further i get from these pleasant activities, the less meaningful the youthful objectives of fame and fortune become. My sense is any appeal to ego for acclaim is the bait used by the ruling class to defang and attenuate the danger of the unrestrained creative impulse. What would happen if people occupied themselves with no other consideration than exploring the highest quality artistic product conceivable, devoid of financial concerns¿ What if criteria for greatness was no longer patronage, but the simple self satisfaction of confronting the tabula rasa unafraid or better yet - anything playfully¿ What if that same quality of application became the criteria for any endeavor, be it building a wagon, a house or even a civilization¿ I don’t know.

I do know that if this concept of enjoyment was expanded to include the pleasure found in helping another accomplish a similar personal objective, we would become a transfigured creature pulled up from the bile and chimera of ceaseless war which our corporate overlords are using to keep us in a constant state of exhaustion. Don’t believe me, ask yourself where have you ever been well served by your hate, and if you’re feeling up for a real struggle, tell me honestly how that experience feels contrasted with the exhilaration of your first love, even 2nd or third if you’ve been as lucky as i. It is not the knowing that is of any use, that much is clear, for we all understand that Jesus gave up his life for our sins and that Muhammad is the only prophet and still we are at each others throats, killing under the guise of love - that is not love. Love is what provokes me to address strangers in vain, advocating that they look into their hearts and discover what it takes for them to feel good about what they do. Is it the best¿ Ask me if i give a fuck - i will not. The notion that one is responsible for the feelings of any other person is a false premise. If one chooses to torment and sow discord, that will become apparent soon enough, and why would i employ one second of my life to dissuade or even rebuke such an asinine objective - where would one begin¿ The very best i can accomplish is to assume my responsibilities toward the life so generously provided me to see what cannot be known about my essence by doing daily those things that bring me pleasure in the irrational but fondly held faith i may catch a glimpse of myself through the love of other.   


woman - the sonnet
women - can’t live with ‘em, and can’t shoot ‘em
just as well ma taught me respect - beats jail,
besides cacti have a fragrant blossom.
though its thorny leaves tend to the frail.

it’s the middle ground that is so much fun.
laughing hard with a woman is as though
the world was rain and she was the first sun
crying too, one can learn - just watch her go.

please hear only questions i am sowing
to explain my solitary circumstance.
the only facts are dames themselves crowing-
“shit talking” just confuses balls with pants.

know this - if your game’s faking humility,
you'll likely learn the meaning of frailty.

jts 060117 
reprinted with permission - all rights reserved 

ma - the essay / pa - a sonnet

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.” - Oscar Wilde

I had decided on the subject of this essay as i woke, including the quote above. Just prior to writing, i received an email from my sister. She wants to arrange possession of a family heirloom for her son; that he didn’t invite me to his wedding still smarts; that he wouldn’t arrange his own acquisition is sad; the fact that she will provide movers to pick up and deliver is curious. Without information, i can only experience my feeling, which is toward a sibling who wants to take something from me without the courtesy of looking in my eyes. After one Thanksgiving dinner at a Joshua Tree home - a home which said sister subsequently procured from ma without any family discussion, save that between her and ma, i was preparing a plate of food to bring to Iceberg Slim’s daughter who i worked with in a Los Angeles brokerage office. My sister not so surreptitiously complained to ma, as though i was taking food out of my sister’s mouth. Ma rejected this objection - sadly i fear for the sole purpose of smoothing the way por moi avec un petite femme. However it may have been at just that instant my concept of ma began to deepen. Not because it might have been pity motivating her (fuck that), but for demonstrating an equity from her of which i’ve not seen enough. Ma has always been hard nosed with good reason. She raised four strong personalities during the fractious 60’s and loosed herself from what she had come to believe as a flawed marriage not in her best interest. Ma has always held her interests in high esteem, which in the era of June Cleaver, Father Knows Best and the Donna Reed Show had been more than confusing. Somehow ma and her finely tuned antennae had anticipated Gloria Steinem (CIA operative) and the real need for a review of modern gender roles. Ma saw opportunity in these shifting social dynamics to better her station and to that end, sacrificed much, though not without paying through the nose. She took on a grueling 10 year tenure as a middle school art teacher, which allowed me to leave home at age 15 (read as door locks changed). Her work included 5 periods of 50 pupils from Newport Beach, CA - the most privileged children in the country. It was, as i imagine now, as close to hell on earth as one might want to find.

The gamble was worth it, for she was delivered by the universe into a loving union with the CEO of an insurance brokerage firm - she had arrived in nirvana. At least as close to nirvana a woman could grapple with who spent her adolescent summers with her father, an itinerant miner in a dirt floor house to a service station he ran in the desert of Nevada circa 1940’s. I am sitting here trying to sift through conflicting emotions in an effort to understand this woman free of personal hurt and reservations one might learn as a boy going toe-to-toe with an understandably enraged self-actualizing adult. While she was teaching, i was just one other prong on the fork - a confused man-child. I feel great compassion for her through the lens of my own pain looking into the telescope of time. She had the gall to buck a system that was just then beginning to show the signs of the collapse which now surrounds us; that her early depravation seems to have informed her struggle more than any other factor is simply unfortunate for the world, for she was, and remains an incredibly intelligent, skilled and resourceful woman in a world of great need for such qualities. To see her today trapped in her gilded cage, under the protection of the eldest son. What figures more importantly for me is the effort to understand the flaws of my mother in terms of envy she expresses regarding my father. She had been duty-bound to disparage him for nearly the full of her post divorce life, lest her escape into abundance be noted by anyone as anything less than serendipity. I find common cause and commiserate her confusion at having gotten all she ostensibly asked for only to find emptiness, and still my admiration for her grows. All of the protections she had put in place to protect her from the elements, from me, from poverty, from all that was to blame for any misery in her life have only become mirrors reflecting the mirage of her own fears - a cage trapping her.

But the imprisonment of age has not daunted her, if anything it has provided her a sanctuary in which to plumb her own depths somewhat free of the vanities of beauty, though still shrouded in the trappings of wealth - glitter for those who remain yoked to such illusions. There is no question that my own reservations about wealth and power may be little more than envy - reaction formation of one shoved aside by family-order and greed; that my fascination for beautiful women could be the cloying residue of a rebuked younger brother; twisted yearning of a motherless child; or it may just be really neat to admire beauty through the viscera of art; i wish it were that simple, especially for my mother and sister. Ma has never given up hope i might improve even helping me to mitigate my intransigence - a character flaw i could do well without, but then that admonition comes from a woman who demanded that my siblings, or anyone for that matter, share her opinion regarding my stubbornness, or any opinion of hers for that matter - in a quietly intransigent manner; ironically it is likely her perseverance which i modeled. What is more troubling and difficult to distinguish is the role of disparagement in her world view. Her own father, my namesake, was largely absent from her life, though her mother made the very progressive decision for them to spend time together. Her mother a genteel southern belle married grandpa the much older miner, and then with three children in tow and few prospects on the horizon bailed for the greener pastures of life with my maiden aunt - the well-to-do career civil servant who had a dim view of my grandfather the “rough cobb” yankee. The further i remove myself from family, the more i subscribe to intergenerational pathology, which if true is remarkably encouraging, as well as damming in its mechanics. For example, were my failing to be merely intransigence, self loathing would not have become my demon to befriend in grudging admiration in order to become free. As i picture my siblings, they have been encouraged to see their strengths contrasted against my manifold faults, or illusionary exalted power depending on which side of the bed one rises - vice versa. The confusion of such exaggerated capacity or defects about anyone, impairs the ability to peer more deeply into cherished convictions about one’s own conceit.

In my family, if it doesn’t square with the party line, personal expression is a verboten behavior. So like all myopic writers expressing eternal truths, i resort to impulse power - the harder they come, the harder they fall; or in this case the more you want me to shut up, the more i want to say. When all of ma’s self-made turbulence manifested in a collapse at her teaching position, i returned home from school as the medics were leaving; after some hours of knowing little more than ma had collapsed, my sister came out of the closed room and walking down the darkened hall telling me, “well I hope you’re happy now.” Ma’s collapse was not my fault then, nor is harm to her my doing now - my solitary dialogue with this demon of destruction does not bode well for me, my siblings or our collective awareness; i hear now the cousin demon of self loathing clenching at my gut screaming - let me out, let me out, and all i can do is reassure these kindly internal monsters they have not committed mayhem, and would they please come up with something more constructive than “y’all are fucks”. The people i’m describing are not evil, they are my family. I am, we, are not guilty of anything more than being confused humans doing their best. During this tumultuous growing up time, ma was adamant that psychology would verify all she felt and went to great lengths to confirm her suspicions - not terribly different than this sanctimonious diatribe ostensibly written for the purpose of honoring a complex relationship with a parent. It is the hazy outlines of awkward moments coming into focus which keep me plugging toward a deeper understanding of ma’s being and the prism of light that is her family; for example there is a startled look in her eye after an embrace when i have asked “why does it feel like you are pushing me away when we hug¿” It is the difficult questions i ask, and which she accepts after a fashion, that give me heart, for without the ability to bring to fruition the integration of one’s feeling, what good are sensibilities?

Ma has come to accept that i will not accede to a delusional deconstruction of family, so when she bemoans the standoff my siblings and i enjoy by waxing nostalgic - “my family never had this kind of .  . . “ as a good son i feel honor bound to gently point out that she did not speak to her sister for 20 years. I’m altogether too certain it is the instinct of my siblings to attribute anything but kindness to such a remark. I believe they use their convictions about me as justification for feelings they have chosen. I’m struggling for a different approach - ma is not a saint - a magnificent powerful woman, but no saint, anymore than i am as you can read in this scandalous expose. From this, i accept that i will never get all that i want or ask for from ma, much less, family or the world, but more importantly, if i am to learn how to love, it must be based on what is, not for some state of things to be. I have learned something; i can love ma. This one lesson in life thus far is worth more to me than anything i’ve learned. What i have found from this decision, is a woman of vast worth who is sitting beached by an unkindness of her own making. At a time in her life when she could be honing all the extraordinary skills she has gained tooth and nail during a long exciting existence, she sits weighted by some erroneous delusion that either her favorites are exalted without flaw, or she failed in some way; her children have failed, or her housekeeper is .  . .  Her sensibilities are delicate, and she has imparted much to each of us which: but great sensitivity is an odious condition without a free and open embrace of all it can achieve - good and bad. Sensitivity can be confused with reality; reality is flawed, it is intractable, relentless in its slog toward eternity. Sensitivity is dynamic, it can become an urge to quiet an infant’s discomfort, or provide the safe feeling of truth in the midst of lies, or even demand love toward siblings whose behavior doesn’t meet one’s high standards of excellence. Sensitivity can lead one to understanding or plunge one to the depths of delusion, whereas strength most often results in exhaustion. I hope as ma fades toward her destiny that she feels the understanding which her strength has encouraged me to learn and allowed her daughter to achieve.

post script: to anyone reading this as an indictment of people i know to be doing their best and who are not present to defend themselves - the fault is my own for not being more clear that the struggle i’ve attempted to describe herein is love and nothing more.


pa - a sonnet

pa was a poet of finer meaning
than found in most amateur poetry.
he’d call bullshit like a judge in hearing-
heard enough times, you’d know what’s up a tree.

his feelings were deep and not always clear
so reading his soul was more than a treat,
it was a channel to one you held dear.
dumb luck he was left alone with just feet.

lines did not fill him enough in the end
the measure of his steps walked off the page.
but like some minstrel of yore; he’d just bend,
that, or i could not read his change of age.

matters not; what does - is you’ve read one more.
poetry for him was just life at the core.

jts 053017 

reprinted with permission - all rights reserved