Archive for June, 2012


was a strange new word i learned to say
when i but nine and then some years
felt spurned by those whose cares
suddenly some elsewhere lay.

though quickly i learned life always answers to life
and gives up its secret there,
love uncovered rises to its time
and delights our children fair. then i could not know

what wondrous fare would bring from time to time
treasures to my near ten years already
thinned out in leavings of fall colored trees—
none well marked by a small child me—

that there upon that snow shod afternoon
under a pale winter sun become the day of your birth –
my lamp was relit and the day was shorn
of all its out grown earth.

o dragonfly of time that brought you to me
what strange experience this life;
child hand and nose drip
are what i remember most of mine,

yet you showed me the sacred and the trip
of life in all its splendor, a beauty ship
you sail on now to your own rose flowered family.
and though i see your road of love paved smooth and sure

i know not what lies on time’s other side
the bounds of beyond are closed to me
just as traces of the all past done
misted over by time and tide.

yet dawn hath a new day crowned today, and thus i might
lose sight of all that’s gone
in a dazzling bright entreaty
of all this beauty, all your loves yet still undone.


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have you ever nodded yourself to sleep
have you ever cried your whole day through
have you ever broken every thought
every dream every feeling every sunlit stare
upon the breathless ocean of grief

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i bring a jewel on our hike to the mountains
i give it to you after dinner
we celebrate like two swans
in the morning i wake alone and tend to the fire
to build it up for my own breakfast
the sparks echo over the mountain range that
has stood here much longer than our children ever would have
you are gone and i understand very well now
that everything in this young world
contains its own opposite

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our intellectual conflicts seems to generate so much emotional conflict, aggression, hatred and physical violence that i fear humans won’t survive another 100 years on this planet. if we don’t learn to check the facts how can we ever learn to check our violence?

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when i am faced with emotional suffering the emotion is often accompanied by a thought about something i think i don’t have. i naturally come to the conclusion that to alleviate the suffering, i need to acquire the thing that i’m thinking i don’t have. the object of problem solving then becomes this fantasized absent item (or event or relationship or whatever…). acquiring behavior is then reinforced through a negative reinforcement schedule, and suffering never really ends. the entire process is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the problem. the nature of the problem, actually, is that suffering has arisen and needs some attention. the moment of suffering itself is the problem and the solution to the suffering problem is in the moment, not in the acquiring of the fantasized item. the problem isn’t so much that i want this fantasized item, but that i fail to understand that its possession or loss has nothing whatever to do with suffering. it is truly irrelevant. this would not be such a big deal except for the fact that it distracts me from actually solving the problem at hand: what to do about suffering. the suffering is real. it demands our attention. if we allow ourselves to constantly be distracted from understanding it, how can we be surprised that we never actually figure out how to respond to it?

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consider for a moment how we think about “certainty.” on the one hand we could view certainty as following from intellectual proof. following the rules of logic, we deduce that the sum of the angles of a triangle always add up to 180 degrees, or that 2 plus 2 always equals 4 or that all bachelors are unmarried. on the other hand, following the experiences of our senses we might deny all that, saying that clever explanation of concepts does not amount to any sort of proof at all and that the only thing anyone can “know” is that a particular sensation is passing through your mind at any given time. what kant, kierkegaard and nietzsche perceived in this seemingly endless debate over “mind” and “body,” is that both sides of the dialectic presuppose some sort of hidden authority of human understanding, just waiting out there somewhere to be discovered. for rationalists it was the authority of mind, empiricists the authority of body. addiction to authority has kept us bewitched by its endless possibility like some holy grail shimmering always beyond our reach. yet how anyone can truly become the “author” of their lives has never been satisfactorily demonstrated, despite centuries of effort. will this search continue ad infinitum? will we exhaust ourselves in this sisyphean task? or blow each other to bits arguing over whose eternal truth is more true? these are the lessons of kant’s antinomies, kierkegaard’s leap to faith and nietzsche’s eulogy for god. if we continually insist on chasing an illusion, despite centuries upon centuries of ignominious failure, how on earth can we be truly surprised at our never ending frustration?

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as i get older i start to learn that experiences like “feeling broken” or “wishing i had never been born,” are the end result of a chain of events that started somewhere out there, in a world not contained within my skin. and i think in space, no one can hear you sin.

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what words trained me slowly to your smile
held me a moment, brought me back
to an unbreakable note of love of touch:
your fingers, your lips, your wandering hip,
all that i loved in one single love.

will i walk all the days of my life in grief
will i laugh

will atoms of time
pull away

and find your infinite eyes at last.

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one of the arbitrary patterns i often notice in the world around me is an imaginary line dividing me from some group of people. this set may be defined by adjectives like “married” or “happy” and the line dividing us often becomes the occasion for emotions like “sadness” or “grief” part of which includes the thought “i’m broken.” what i find objectionable about this pattern these days is the extent to which it interferes with the process of actually grieving what i experience as lost.

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the question arises as to how often are relationships between men and women in our culture characterized by “bullying.” by “bullying” i mean a pattern of shaping another person’s behaviors based on the goals of the shaper and not the goals of the recipient of the shaping. how much active mutual shaping (cooperation) is going on and how much of it is flowing in one direction from the “active” to the “passive” participant? do we still live in a culture that rewards men for active shaping yet expects women to accomplish their goals through subterfuge, concealment, capitulation? are men expected to be the apparent goal setters and women the apparent goal followers? and in what manner is goal setting aversive and goal following negatively reinforcing? or bullying maintained by a schedule of variable reinforcement? how healthy is any of this in the end?

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