Sun flower heads

I put two large

Sun flower heads

On the railing of

My deck overlooking

The river a month ago

& a titmouse

Is taking a meal now,

When I had commercial

Bird seed there, every bird

Seemed to come around,

Now there are only four,

I should say Titmice,

Because, well it is fun to write Titmice

As I look over my  coffee

& this small action, a

Blue heron flies up river

& his grey blue slow beating wings

pass the early light & flashed a

Bright blue through the tree forks

As sunlight hit the wispy feathers,

Just right toward my neighbors well-kept yard, &

Two snowy egrets pass downriver &

Three humming birds fight

At their feeder, on my deck while NPR

Tells me there are troops

Once again to Iraq,

As some Muslims are beheading

Journalists and children &

Crucifying Christians in open squares

High above at this moment

The last two pieces of oak have gone

Into the stove

& it’s too dark & icy to get more,

Inside the stove a chunk to the right

Smolders & pops

To the left about thirty seconds

Ago the other said the same

 

It is getting cold—a jet

High above at this moment

Is taking someone

Toward a sad occasion

We all suffer

 

Iris in a water carafe

Is stupidly trying to bloom

In December

 

On the hot stove I dropped Frankincense

This after noon

& a Holy odor

Pervades this cabin

No priests on this mountain

Wind chimes however

Announce epiphany

Unrecorded

 

Lovers embrace in

Immaculate numbers

All over the planet

Genetic material furthered

To be exactly what they

Are, themselves, guiltless after Christ,

Either by love or some other reason

 

Life brings on abundant life &

His own purpose

& like the tides, surges connection

Recedes, then surges again.

Venus Void of course

Stepping out into

The crisp night air under leafless

Oaks, there is a clean

Smell that can only be

Had in certain places,

Venus shimmers off mountain

Horizon, I thought maybe

You were looking at her too

 

Glimmering off your Bodega Bay

The pliable ivory of your face

& red hair

& connected pervasively,

Venus occluded with moon

Four days ago.

 

While you know

I don’t buy Astrology

& for you that’s part

Of your faith & that’s all right

For you then

I wonder about now

 

Three days before this evening

I’m told of twelve people

Are meeting

Three of which believe

That they are from Venus

& have video tape of

Venusian space ship

Landing on earth

 

Life is preciously beautiful

& we are part & parcel of

Gaseous formation of the adjacent

Planet & I would never want

To break up their meeting, & laughing

Though I am

 

Knowing that voiding time

All of this is a togethered thing &

While Botticelli’s art

Which we accept unlike

The Venusian space ship

& how he

Put her so delicately

On the half-shell

With your red hair

 

It is more like

A dream this art as life

Than a reverie

But there in imagination

We loved each other

& shared our last name w/out marriage

no relation & states away

A decade apart our

Birthdays, yet the same?

 

We astonished each other

You were swooped off

To California, but

In this cabin, this damn

Cold Oregon December,

Your red hair spilled across

My chest, your smell like

Lilac must, your

Touch soft, is soft &

Warm air becomes heavy

Acrid smoke fills the air,

A cabin, or a cave,

Or a peat heated shanty above

A wind swept cliff & the sheep bells

Clang in the mist?

 

I saw a reflection in your eyes

Dim light, our bodies move,

& then we were still, & your

Touch again, it should not be

A dream, yet it was

& that’s all we had

 

My heart surged

Not from desire

But from wonder &

Though we never made love you

Were many times on

My arm & we many times kissed

Deep spit swapping passion

& one night we slept together

This imagination makes what it will

Yet you were always a person

Not to be worshiped

But to be known & we knew each

Other in some kind of morphic

Field that came together & said

Remember?

 

I don’t buy reincarnation either, but

The neo-paganism you seemed to love, hey

The playful part I get,

Masks &drums & the anthropomorphic

Notion of animals, like coyote, but

The old gods have always been

Flipping  dead

Pagan playfulness, still has a black ribbon

Running through it to the diabolic,

As did the inquisition,

Or any religious spirit

In every camp—waiting

For the wrong move away

Presence interior & from

Above simultaneously

 

The dimness fades

& the light grows

Too, too bright

I close my eyes

Black ice on asphalt & fire

On the moon

We were both void of direction

Toward God

 

& then I see again your face

Surprised

Then calm, your face changes, again &

Ten out of ten of us die

& you were eventually gone

Earned Wisdom

I hadn’t been home long enough to take a shower

& there came a pounding on the door & I knew only too well

Who it was and he was the last person in the world I wanted to see.

I answered the door.

“Ah Heartache my old friend,” I said,

“Come in you, son-of-a-bitch, come on in make yourself at home.

You know your way around, there’s beer in the refrigerator.

“I gotta  grab a shower.”

He didn’t say a word but headed for the Hotpoint refrigerator

Next to the Frigidaire gas stove.

I got in the shower and washed off the grime from the roofing job,

I’d hated for the last month.  One more week and that would be done.

Then hopefully the rains would start; I’d be off with unemployment checks

Until an editing job promised me, turned up in January

& I could get some of my own writing done,

Without worrying about the wolves at the door

Although this guy and his friends were worse than wolves

I got out of the shower and there he was with his feet propped on my coffee table

Watching the six o’clock news. He had  gone through one sixteen ouncer

& was well into his second —I’d been expecting him

But was wishing he’d gone back to California where he belonged

“Looking kind of down in the mouth,” I said.

“Been with that bitch Envy again haven’t you?

What? And her sister Passion as well.

You sick bastard

That’s what I’ve always admired about you.”

I finished drying my hair and zipped open another tall boy.

I just sat there eyeing the tube with as much attention &

Chagrin at the commercials as he gave Tom Brokaw.

I wanted him out of the apartment but felt some strange

Premonition he needed to be there,

Then there came another knocking at the door.

I answered & there stood

Misery in Friday night togs looking like an escapee

from a disco pogrom  years ago.

“Yeah, I might of known it would be you,” I told him as I opened the door.

“Come in it seems I’ve got some company you’re gonna love.  The beers are where they stay cold.”

And it wasn’t three minutes before there I was with both of them on my couch,

Drinking my beer and arguing about the Baseball strike.

Misery was immediately on the side of the owners  & caps,

Allowing as how he’d never made even one percent of average players salary

While old Heartache lashed into the right to collectively bargain

& protection under anti-trust laws & how Misery’s one percent

Was because he’d never worked longer than three months his life

& couldn’t do anything other than complain well.

I bought out three cans of oily sardines and a bag of chips

before they got around to yelling for food.

I’d scarcely gotten the hosting job done when a banging started at the back door.

“Who the hell could this be now?”

I made my way back through the rubble of beer cans

on the back porch  with its idle fishing poles

& the washing machine that never worked

& there he was—his left shoulder facing me

& looking up into the sky bright almost neon

Twilight of October’s bright changing colors solemnly turning gray

“Loneliness, you bastard,” I grumbled.

“At least you brought beer,”  I told him,

I made my way back into the apartment

Loneliness shuffling in behind me.

“Look who’s here boys,” I yelled

As I went for another one my beers before they were all gone.

I knew Loneliness brought the beer the least money can buy.

Every three months with the change the seasons it seemed

He abandoned whatever twelve-step he was in

& ended back on my back porch with the cheap beer

I made my way back into the living room & they all were making

More noise without saying anything, than Howard Cosell ever did,

Arguing about Self-Pity and whether he was going make it back into town.

“That’s all I need,” I said out loud, “is to have that creep show up tonight.”

I then made a mental note not let him in if he did.

When I discovered that there was nowhere to sit, I took the floor

In front of the tube and they’d switched on a two month old golf tournament

Where a baseball game should have been, &

I knew it was going to be a bad night.

 

Living the Dream

I entered a fast food restaurant,

My brand, where they will serve

Breakfast 24/7 & where I’ve never

Been sick afterwards, &  this knowledge

Is very valuable much like entering

An area in remote Indonesia & figuring out the

Friendly tribes & how to avoid the cannibals,

I & my wife walk up to the counter, an affable Chicano dude

Takes my order, while giving others in the

Kitchen  orders & I ask him how he is doing?

“Living the dream,” he says,

“Living the dream,” he repeats,

“And you sir?” he asks.

“Wonderful!” I reply, “Wonderful!” I repeat.

I’ve been sitting in my back yard

Remembering this and taking in my

Flowering light lavender purple crepe myrtle, with finches eating

Thistle seed from the hanging socks, my wife has tied there,

in this twenty foot tree the finches are hanging

upside down on the sock like yellow monkeys &

Loud red and orange Canna Lilies in the corner of the yard and now bright

New Red Crepe myrtle, is coming in beside the compost box, at breast height

Flowering for the first time deep purple red, I’m making small talk with my wife &

We are on a back deck under an umbrella at 10 am drinking good coffee

& it will be 104 degrees today, but now it is so pleasant &

I’m remembering this breakfast two weeks ago &

Thinking about “living the dream,” this gentleman

Had lots of tattoos, and deep scars on his face

& forearms—clearly some of his dreams had been

Nightmares, & there was a tone of

Sarcasm in his reply, & so much of this life in

Stepping  into retirement has been this ever-rewarding notion that

I am living the dream, while the poems & stories come out &

Scream out sometimes or sometimes softly but I’m finally living the dream

& the small pension and social security are like the Guggenheim

I never applied for, nor even wanted to apply for, & this

Notion of the artists’ life having to have the day job, & wait,

I did both, I waited, did the bidding of others for a decades & a half

& now I get to fish when I want drive this word processor all day

Or fifteen minutes if I want & I’m taking all this in and paying

Attention dutifully to what my wife is saying, & then she leaves & more

Finches come, a beautiful small red & blue grosbeak comes to the

Bird feeder & peeks around the foliage, leaves, comes back leaves again

& comes back and feeds, I notice robins in the grape vines on the white picket

Fence & realize they are eating our grapes that have just ripened, I yell

At them, my wife has come to find out what is going on &

I tell her about the grapes & we both go to inspect, &

Well they have hammered all fifty or sixty bunches of table grapes

That we were waiting to pick tomorrow, my wife is really mad

& I’m out on the other side of the fence laughing at the birds & the picked

Clean clumps that were just yesterday pumping up their white green

Sugary goodness & are now skeletons beneath the yellowing leaves

I am living the dream; &  I’ve got scars to prove it, like the sweet gone grapes

It is very good this given life & its mortal expanse &

Last year the neighbors picked the grapes while we were on holiday.

 

Now, let-me-tell-you-this-story..

I was in Peter’s cabin in southern Oregon, in the summer of 1981,

Peter had finished Seminary in 1965, & having done a stint as a

Chaplain in the Navy, or maybe it was the Army, he declined  to be ordained,

& went to work selling books for New Directions,

In 1967, he’d been hitting up book stores for

James Laughlin, & he stopped in

San Francisco—took LSD, & tried briefly

To become King of the hippies & realizing there

Were too many pretenders to the throne, he

Then retreated to southern Oregon, where

He bought a very small cabin in the woods & went on forays

For Amanita mushrooms every fall and spring on the Oregon coast,

He’d dry hundreds of  them & step into an altered reality most every day, then

Run ten  miles &  in his mid-forties he looked like an athlete in his twenties,

Peter had an estranged wife in  northern California & a young daughter

& was dating a nurse from the Psych ward in  a Medford hospital,

When I met him, & the first time I was in his cabin, on a round oak

Dining table was a copy of Wasson’s, Soma: the Divine  Mushroom of Immortality;

An ethno-mycological study—the cover a stark-white layout

With two   bright red  Amanita Muscaria  mushrooms w/white spots,

You will see this entheogenic mushroom in illustrations

Of Grimm’s fairy tales & even Disney’s Snow White, but Wasson’s contention

Is that this mushroom was instrumental in prehistoric world religion

& that is widely held now, as a naturalistic explanation of religion

& the summer after college I house-set my English professors apartment in Cambridge

& read this book, & Peter, impressed that I knew anything about it

Proceeded to let me sample, his stash of Ammanita Pantherina’s which were not red

but the color of gold leaf  & fruited out in the springtime & stronger than the Muscaria, &

two weeks after I’d had several small doses, I came over one morning for coffee,

&  Pete fed me six dried pancake-size mushrooms

I went up on his roof  & about an hour later he gave me five more with water,

I laid down and looked at the forest, took in the madrone trees and Douglas fir

over Pete’s house & though slightly nauseous I began to get really high,

I moved slowly off the roof from a ladder &

I came down & made my way around his house & out to a postage  stamp size

Lawn of about hundred square feet that was adjacent his house, & then

Down a path, beside his driveway & a small pond he’d made, with a pole

Bridge arcing over the top & transplanted river iris in the bank where a spring fed in

& I continued up the path where there were  a number of  Washington Lilies, whose

trumpet shaped white flowers on stems five to six feet tall, exuded a fragrance

that can waft 50 feet or more & these radiant lilies are named for Martha Washington

& walking by this air filled  florescence in white flowers nodding  facing outward

pale-lavender on the outside & tiny purple spots on inside, tips slightly curved back

I continued toward & into a stand of Ponderosa pine with black oak & Douglas fir mixed in

& now a  dry balsam smell  & now I was about a hundred yards from Peter’s cabin

& suddenly there was a man walking ahead of me I’d not seen before

He slowed, I got closer and I noticed the man was in a grey robe &

He turned around & I saw clearly this man was Jesus, & as

He turned I noticed a demeanor that was not one of annoyance, but

Yet it was as if he had been distracted by me,  from some other more pressing  intention, &

He had looked like this was going to be a necessary explanation for a too

Inquisitive child, & I had said nothing  & yes

there was seemingly white light  when I got close, much like the lilies

“I’m going to show you something,” He said,

“that most people don’t get to see until they die..” &  then

He touched me on my forehead with the flat part of a right forefinger bent slightly inward,

His hand making a half fist, & instantly inside me & every atom, every molecule of every plant,

& every rock,  & every tree & the water, the air & the bright blue summer sky—became

Love, as a base of experiential reality more real than anything I’d

Ever known, or have known since, & love was very apparently— the construct of  everything

& it was all pervasive & all around me,

& in me, & then breathing deeply, Jesus having since departed,

I staggered back to Pete’s house where there were now three people sitting on his lawn

&  I  loudly announced to everyone that,

“All there is, is love!” & they laughed as

I  announced this over & over—& I told no one about the Jesus

Part of this story—for about 35 years,

& I do not think I was supposed to..

I did assume this was a drug induced phenomenon, a vision none-the-less,

This phenomenon in the charismatic world is called an open vision,

Then after having  again, my own subjective yet, extra earthly always unexpected

Sober encounters with this same Jesus, though not as Christophany, as I’ve described, so

Eventually, I discounted naturalism as a notion & a base construction of reality

& just accepted that yes, of course it was Jesus,

& yes, I needed that, & I needed to know this was so, once & for all & always

You see, one week before this encounter  I was in Rock Creek Canyon & I—a stoned hippie,

Had scratched in large letters, on a rock, “God is Love,” & I knew this was true, only as philosophy &

Left it there for someone to find, & that this Jesus found me, & straightened this out &

He has been finding me in my own wondering ever since,

Now a reality & then a notion, but that notion now brings barrier, while this other is

As faith, eternal sustenance, sure goodness, & loving  kindness, &

Because it really is true that despite everything else, really,

Love is all there is.