Sunday, May 29, 2011

Waiting For The Moon

"And when the sun has begun to sink behind the rim of the hills, I sit quietly in the evening waiting for the moon so that I may have a shadow for company, or light a lamp and discuss right and wrong with my silhouette.
"But when all has been said, I am not really the kind who is so completely enamored of solitude that he must hide every trace of himself away in the mountains and wilds. It's just that, troubled by frequent illness and weary with dealing with people, I've come to dislike society. Again and again I think of the mistakes I've made in my clumsiness over the course of the years. There was a time when I envied those who had government offices or impressive domains, and on another occasion I considered entering the precincts of the Buddha and the teaching room of the patriarchs. Instead, I've worn out my body in journeys that are as aimless as the winds and clouds and expended my feelings on birds and flowers. But somehow I've been able to make a living this way, and so in the end, unskilled and talentless as I am, I give myself wholly to this one concern, poetry. Po Chu-i worked so hard at it that he almost ruined his five vital organs, and Tu Fu grew lean and emaciated because of it. As far as the intelligence or quality of our writing goes, I can never compare to such men. And yet we all in the end live, do we not, in a phantom dwelling? But enough of that - I'm off to bed." 

from "The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling" by Matsuo Basho

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Staying Up With You

"I've been a lot of places since, but nothing else compares to easy times and easy eyes, to meet you in a stare."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Strand By Strand

My head clears with the rain. The train recedes.

"Locked away in a cage, 
My rage has got the best of me.
Time finds a way each day
Of leaving less of me behind.
I find this fight must be won
Inside the mind:
So uptight and confined,
Often blinded by the light
Taking its toll on my system,
Like some played out existence.
Time ticks away these last few moments;
Is there anything we've left unsaid?
I'm on a quest for atonement;
I've got to find peace of mind
And a place to rest,
Biding my time
Until I'm strong enough to fight back.
I hope against hope
For some resistance;
Been taking it out on my system.
There's a calm before the storm
And the western front is quiet;
I've got Rembrandt as my right hand, 
And Solo as my pilot."

- from "Solitaire Unraveling" by Mushroomhead

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Tongue Is Cold

"Uncover our heads and reveal our souls - we were hungry before we were born."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hovering Around A Corpse

"Where there is carrion lying, meat-eating birds circle and descend. Life and death are two. The living attack the dead, to their own profit. The dead lose nothing by it. They gain too, by being disposed of. Or they seem to, if you must think in terms of gain and loss. Do you then approach the study of Zen with the idea that there is something to be gained by it? This question is not intended as an implicit accusation. But it is, nevertheless, a serious question. Where there is a lot of fuss about "spirituality", "enlightenment", or just "turning on", it is often because there are buzzards hovering around a corpse. This hovering, this circling, this descending, this celebration of victory, are not what is meant by the study of Zen - even though they may be a highly useful exercise in other contexts. And they enrich the birds of appetite.

"Zen enriches no one. There is no body to be found. The birds may come and circle for a while in the place where it is thought to be. But they soon go elsewhere. When they are gone, the "nothing", the "no-body" that was there, suddenly appears. That is Zen. It was there all the time but the scavengers missed it, because it was not their kind of prey." 

-Thomas Merton

"When I saw that clumsy crow
Flap from a wasted tree,
A shape in the mind rose up:
Over the gulfs of dream
Flew a tremendous bird
Further and further away
Into a moonless black
Deep in the brain, far back."

-Theodore Roethke

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Blessed Unrest

Yes, I'm aware it was Martha Graham's 117th birthday. That's less than half of the reason for my posting this. I always forget her advice. And I shouldn't. So here it is, for all my fellow "I'm not cool/smart/generally awesome enough to put my voice out there" friends.

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. 

"It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

"No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others." 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day Too

Metallic salt and 
"Greed", like war paint.
Style before comfort.
Ritual everywhere,
Even here.
Emptiness mine.
What's that say?...
Nothing, maybe.
I ride on.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cripple Our Reason

"Pain and deprivation. The Buddhist monks sit on roofs, fasting and sleepless until they reach enlightenment. Isolated and exposed to the wind and sun. Compare them to Saint Simeon, who rotted on his pillar. Or the centuries of standing yogis. Or Native Americans who wandered on vision quests. Or the starving girls in nineteenth-century America who fasted to death out of piety. Or Saint Veronica, whose only food was five orange seeds, chewed in memory of the five wounds of Christ. Or Lord Byron, who fasted and purged and made his heroic swim of the Hellespont. A romantic anorexic. Moses and Elijah, who fasted to receive visions of the Old Testament. English witches of the seventeenth century who fasted to cast their spells. Or whirling dervishes, exhausting themselves for enlightenment. 

"All these mystics, throughout history, all over the world, they all found their way to enlightenment by physical suffering. 

"The left half of your brain deals with logic, language, calculation, and reason, he says. This is the half people perceive as their personal identity. This is the conscious, rational, everyday basis of our reality.

"The right side of your brain, the doctor tells her, is the center of your intuition, emotion, insight, and pattern recognition skills. Your subconscious. 

"He says people live their lives out of the left half of their brain. It's only when someone is in extreme pain, or upset or sick, that their subconscious can slip into their conscious. When someone's injured or sick or mourning or depressed, the right brain can take over for a flash, just an instant, and give them access to divine inspiration.

"According to the German philosopher Carl Jung, this lets us connect to a universal body of knowledge. The wisdom of all people over all time.

"Frida Kahlo and her bleeding sores. All great artists are invalids.

"According to Plato, we don't learn anything. Our soul has lived so many lives that we know everything. Teachers and education can only remind us of what we already know.

"Our misery. This suppression of our rational mind is the source of inspiration. The muse. Our guardian angel. Suffering takes us out of our rational self-control and lets the divine channel through us. 

" 'Enough of any stress', the doctor says, 'good or bad, love or pain, can cripple our reason and bring us ideas and talents we can achieve in no other way.' "

Monday, May 2, 2011

Solar Return

Twenty-seventh solar return:
Comes and goes.
Like everything, lately.
No words.
Vertigo pins me in bed.
Broken viscera pins me
In lethargy and loathing,
Lack of try
Every day increasing. 
"What is it that causes you the most pain?
What do you feel you need most, right now?"
Can't answer her in less than a novel,
So don't answer, 
At all.
But her face tells me she heard me anyway.
On my knees
Like her;
Hands in hot bleach water
Like her:
Baseboards grout steel tile
While the sun shines,
While the world rolls on,
While debt - 
Monetary and chronological - 
Piles up
And achievement leaks away
In direct proportion. 
And I don't care,
Sort of. 
Because I do it,
Choose it,
It is. I am. 
I don't know.
It will end,
Because, tired and old and spent,
Because everything self-made,
I'll unmake. 
Crack my head on walls to know
They're there.
There, there.
Seeing them is not enough. 
I shrug and walk the other way.