Noisy Bridge Rod and Gun Club

A pleasant diversion and general cul-de-sac, wholly unaffiliated with John Crowley (click the link below to go there).

Monday, August 01, 2016

What is the nature of knowledge?


What still believes in ink and paper lives
beneath a cragged rock
answering to the names of law and whimsy
and the rules of county vital records.


With all the tenderness of dry toast
and burnt coffee make amends for your art
and for everyone else’s
failure. Small enough to fit in this box;


bad coffee in a paper cup.
                                               I walk across
the parking lot and let
my mind empty onto the empty concrete.
A mouse at a sweater yanks out strands


with no sense of the pattern it destroys. Only into
the clearest water can the ecstatic vision pour;
only the silenced mind
hears the sound the ghosts make in passing..


****


The first time you say “I love you” it means
“don’t go,” and it’s patently futile --
everyone leaves --
it’s as easy as a bus ticket or getting a day older.


Your children leave and they mean to, your parents
leave and they don’t. The bus stops,
the party ends -- everyone has somewhere to go.
I have these spaces to fill (birthdate. birthplace).


I am drinking cold coffee on a cold day.
Even funerals are a party. Potluck --
you bring your own contempt and unresolved
issues. People say nice things, mostly. It’s all

very generic -- macaroni salad, cold cuts. Pale
bread for the pale rider.
Later it will snow, just a little, and an argument
will start and then lie down under a card table.


On the death certificate you just write in
all the things you know
for all the questions they ask. Everything else
has to go somewhere else, sorry.


******


Burying the dead turns out to be just the start, just
the first thing we do with them.
After the first has taken the coffin away,
the second line carries you both home


on the ferry back over the river to the land
where nothing is ended, where
the dead walk back into the house with us.
We say it is love and dress them in ink and paper;


we say we are done but only meant this one part.
Don’t go.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Cuckoo


Unpublished. The folk song "The Cuckoo" has a funny line, at least usually, there's a lot of variation, "she doesn't/sing 'cuckoo'/til the fourth day/of july" which hardly makes sense because cuckoos sing well before that and don't even live in the US. One thought is that this song, and another that shares the melody, "Old Stewball," which is usually about a favorite underdog horse that loses on the Fourth of July, somehow mixed with each other in the singing of them, and a different song emerged. Meanwhile, the Tom Waits song "Fish and Bird" came around my head, or maybe Peter Case's "Horse and Crow," anyway along with the thought about the perils of parenting teenagers. That's probably more analysis than this little piece can bear.





The Cuckoo

The riverstones dream of jagged lives,
sharp as switchblades and all their own making;
of striding across an overgrown field
and with a small shrug lay claim to a place. 

The visions that follow mix and merge:
travel and banditry range the thoughts of walls;
stone rings would dance and mock the limits
of human memory and imagination.

Like folk songs that wander into each other
and emerge with their threads crossed
and bound, once there was a cuckoo who sang
all summer long and a racehorse that won

every race. The two became friends and each
wanted most the life that could not be,
just like the stones in the stable around them,
just like the men who put their money down.

Stay with me the cuckoo sang. Run with me
the horse replied, and so the days went
until the cuckoo flew south and the horse
was returned to her winter pastures.

The first time I saw you I was a child,
and the last time I was too distracted 
to take full notice. My own children are
in high school and I tell them the one thing

I would say to all of them, to everyone
who was ever a teenager in America
is that you are loved unconditionally: you are
loved and not by some imaginary power

but by humans you know and do not yet,
and you need to be braver than you are
to take hold of all this love and make of it
one story, your own, both jagged and smooth.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Waterfall

I was listening to Jimi Hendrix's "May This Be Love" with its jittery drum pattern and hesitations, and this came as a result. Probably not quite finished, not sure.



Waterfall


Whatever else it is it is also this: a chance alignment of water and light,
even as the rider and his pale horse are also only
someone going from here to there,
whatever else.


Something is happening with time: the trees turn to glass overnight
and bury themselves in leaves and loam, slowly
draining color from the world where
something is.


Coming before the field wall, we walk the brambled path despite
weathering piled on neglect; broken and buried stony
remains grow roots to remember  
coming before.


It was not all meant. Our ritual was accident, feet fumbling height
atop the wall, two of us repeating solemnly
farewell to otherness; was it a dare?
It was not.


Above all else the waterfall tumbles, suffers and makes right
the arc, a promise to every lost thing wholly
broken the rise of unbroken air
above all else.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Meditative Practice One

In the summer of 2014 I traveled with my family to London. Still jet lagged, we walked up to the Serpentine, and happened to pass the museum, where I realized Marina Abramović's performance piece, 512 hours was underway. After a short wait we all went in, into what turned out to be a gorgeously immersive experience that used various practices of meditation and mindfulness to create a common engagement among strangers. I will never forget the sight of my youngest child, age 11, her eyes closed, her ears stopped by the supplied headphones, standing on a raised platform with Abramović behind her, among people all brought into a circle, not touching, not looking, just being. Most of the following came together there.

Trataka is the practice of meditating using an image, or a candle flame. In 512 hours, sheets of paper in primary colors were placed before several chairs. Sitting in a chair, one engaged in the practice.



Meditative Practice One: Trāṭaka

The blank paper would like her story to be told,
but the blank paper is used to disappointment.

The blank paper has grown accustomed
to standing in for your anxieties,
absorbing your stare,
filling the space between the eye and mind
with recollected light met halfway,
an after image drawn over her body.

The blank paper catches your eye.

The blank paper would like you to consider
the woods and the river and the pulp mill;
would like you to consider
the work it takes to remain blank.

The blank paper is listening.

The blank paper goes for a walk on Sunday morning,
in kinship with a sky not yet up
to the task of making itself the face of the day.
She walks along the river
blissfully alone,
covered in silence and the cool grey light.

Afterwards, the blank paper no longer meets your gaze.
The blank paper is thinking of getting a tattoo.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Aubade

An aubade is a poem written to a lover, parting at dawn. This is something slightly other than that. Why it is about laundry I don't know, it just is.


Aubade

in the first rays of sunrise
the first words you say cannot be a lie
every new pair of lovers knows this
i once knew this, i think

this is the reason, she says,
you cannot let the laundry hang
overnight on the line, lest this blessing
dry with the dew into each sleeve,

wind among the sheets, and twist
each conversation to the one thing
you cannot let the other know
that you believe to be true

oh really, I say laughing, what
between us would that one thing be
and to the look she gave all other words
fell in shadow to the floor

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Black Flag, 1981



what is more punk rock than
passing out with only the offgassing
of the dozen sweaty strangers closest
to breathe and only their bodies
holding you up from the broken glass
blooming across the beer stuck floor
that carry you a plastic bag in the tide
until a shove sends you falling awake
into the air impossibly still moving outside
the mosh pit and stumbling in the vastness
of the noise until you realize it is
your own scream and that it is utter joy

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Night Market

Reworked. Maybe it's better. Who knows.

The Night Market

Because the night is broken and leaking
Starlight through the bedroom walls,
I will let my feet grow cold and colder
To find who knows to find me here.

It’s better to be awake when the dead
Come to lie across your legs.
It’s better to have your eyes open
When the stars begin to sing.

For then the strangeness can be yours
Even as the ghosts are not,
Are the children or ancestors of others,
Who rise when you rise, beckoning

To take you by the hand and fly
As you fly in dreams, to the night market.

There are crowds there, faces lit
And shadowed by charcoal fires
Spitting kebabs tended by toothless men,
Crowds that do not press but give way.

A brush from your arm, a basin of pearls
Spills out across the ground.
You cannot pick one but all the others
Must follow in a glistening strand.

What is taken is the means to explain.
What is left is the chance to breathe again.
At any moment after –midday sitting
On a park bench, say – the stars can find you,

Reach down through dappled sky, and push.
If you fall now you will keep on falling –
Who may catch you?  For to live
Is to be left, is to know there are burdens

No one can be free of and still be alive,
To know we would gladly have chosen
That burden were we but given the chance.
But choice itself is what life denies.