as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
that I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can’t reach.
With my senses, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
and in the ponds broken off from the sky
my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes.
Grey waters, vast
as an area of prayer
that one enters. Daily
over a period of years
I have let my eye rest on them.
Was I waiting for something?
but that continuous waving
that is without meaning
Ah, but a rare bird is
rare. It is when one is not looking
at times one is not there
that it comes.
You must wear your eyes out
as others their knees.
I became the hermit
of the rocks, habited with the wind
and the mist. There were days,
so beautiful the emptiness
it might have filled,
was as its presence; not to be told
any more, so single my mind
after its long fast,
my watching from praying.
I’m on fire like the cactus in the desert
I’m on fire like the palms of an acrobat
I’m on fire like the fangs of the spider
I’m on fire with you and me
I’m on fire walking into a drugstore
I’m on fire I’m on fire
the girl hands me my change and
laughs at me
I’m on fire in my bed alone
I’m on fire with you
I’m on fire reading a book
about Trotsky, Hitler, Alexander the Great,
anybody at all, any walking living dead
human once upon the earth
I’m on fire looking at the grass
I’m on fire looking at birds sitting on telephone wires
I’m on fire answering the phone—
I leap straight up when it rings
I am burning
I’m on fire looking at velvet
I’m on fire looking at a sleeping cat
I am a helpless burning thing
among other helpless burning things
I lay on my left side and look at the tombstones
then I lay on my right side and look at the tombstones—
they are all
I’m on fire putting the stamp on an envelope
I’m on fire wrapping garbage into a newspaper
I’m on fire with heroes and dwarfs and poverty and hope
I’m on fire with love and anger
As I don’t have a car, I don’t drive very often. However, I spent an enormous amount of time buzzing around town in a car this past weekend. At one point, a couple friends and I were almost flattened by an inattentive driver in an SUV. At another point, an Irish philosopher, an English math teacher, a former rock star, a Princeton theologian, and a seminarian with a real pension for psychoanalysis all crammed into my tiny, borrowed Honda and cheered me on in a race against a ‘93 Ford Probe.
I tend to think of cars as overwhelmingly alienating. They separate us from one another and disrupt our connection to the world. I’d prefer to walk or bike. Recently, I had been thinking of buying a car for rainy days and road trips. After some great conversations and that near-death experience, though, I’m rethinking that desire. It’ll cost me some travel time and it’ll suck on rainy days, but I’m okay with that.
Her teeny tiny giggle gurgles from the backseat
and she wheezes from the laughing.
The noise bursts from her like an innocent hurricane,
No amount of preparation or guardedness can save me.
She is god and daughter to me—
the object of my devotion and my precious child.
She is innocent, even a bit naïve,
completely oblivious to the pain and terror the world waits to pile on her.
Her simplicity reminds me of the freedom to ignore the world, to willfully close my eyes and wistfully remember to breathe,
She saves my soul with every choked out, snotty, shrill squeal of delight.
‘Or he would say, “Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is guilty of not providing universal free education, and it must answer for the night it produces. If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.”
Clearly, he had his own strange way of judging things. I suspect he acquired it from the Gospels.