Monday, July 19, 2021

that you may be well

that you may be well
and all manner of beings
be relieved their suffering
I have renounced renouncing
taken up coffee
and poetry
listening closely
to the articles of evidence
of our emerging humanity

the worry

the worry is not in your head
it is in the wormlike creature
struggling on the window pane
that fights to unfold itself
revealing, not a worm
but a firefly

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Jonetta and the Man with a Sun for His Head

In the dream, a man with a head as bright as the sun walks the streets aimlessly. His light is not intelligence or a warm radiance, but a sick emanation, an ego shine. The man is me.

The scene shifts.  I lie in a dark hospital room. A tiny woman, with hair closely cropped to her head, is whispering to me.

I am touched by what she is saying; the sickness of ego is no longer blazing.  A tiny light goes off in my heart. I am freed, enlivened by a tender feeling.


I have this dream during a stay at a psych ward.  When I wake up, I reason, “I have an ego, yes, but is it really all that big?” 

One evening, later in the stay, I have a panic attack. I struggle until bedtime to keep myself together. I am extremely happy when I can get to bed and just focus on my breathing.

I wake up early the next morning. Something has occurred to me. I have been full of myself, and the panic attacks I have are my body’s way of taking me down a few pegs – I may be book smart, but can’t even rely on the integrity of my own mind on a day to day basis.

I stumble out of my bedroom, take a shower. On the way back to my room, a young woman, Jonetta, stops me. No one pays her much mind – she seems to always be stumbling around, clamoring for attention, with her froggy whisper that none of the nurses or patients can ever make out.

She is really keen on telling me something. I lean in close so I could hear.

“The medicine makes me so sleepy,” she croaks, “I can hardly talk. They need to lower my medication.”

I repeat this back to her, and her eyes light up. “Yes! Yes! No one will listen to me.”

I realize, Jonetta is the woman from the dream.

I relay to one of the (nicer) nurses what Jonetta had told me, but the nurse is dismissive. She says that I don’t know what Jonetta is there for, and I am not a doctor – I couldn’t know what she needs.

Thus, I have learned a little bit more about the helplessness of the psychiatric patient “in the system”. But I have learned more about myself, and I have made a new friend. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

attached to the cup (paraphrasing Hindu teaching story)

you are attached to the cup
that brings you water
this is your mistake

throw away the cup, look up
you are on the shore
of a freshwater lake

Monday, June 28, 2021

I believe in disco

I believe in disco, I do



I have heard the very best 

here at Starbucks tonight

#1 singles from the 70's, 

strung one behind the other


"Freak Out"

"Boogie Wonderland"

“Funky Town”

and this one whose words 

I could never make out

"I love the night life

I love to boogie

on the disco roooouuunnnd, 



dumb stuff

starfloss of morons, you say

and didn't Chic almost make it

into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?



but I do believe in disco

I do now


they used to dance, you see

beneath a shattered star

in another time

in another world

light, like a thousand fireflies in formation

circling, dazzling, dizzying them


and how we might long for that mindlessness

that sexual abandon

high on mixed drinks and cocaine

they ushered in the 80's

the stupid 80's, all Reagan and spandex and big hair

what could we know of their sweat,

its odor wafting through too much perfume, cologne?


but I know

I have smelled it

and I believe

I do now

I believe in disco

this is how it works (true story)


I stand stopped on the bridge

from Old River to where I live

bothered by the diatribe in my head

an argument, political

leveled at a statement

made by a dear, dear friend

a year ago


I have gone too far

frustration pitch

for a woman I have never argued with

in person

never had reason to

don't have now


I stare through the metal bridge fence

at the river, the trees below

at nothing

at my own horror

at myself


turn toward the street


meet the laughing gaze of a girl, waving madly

out the back window of an SUV

her smile, breaking her face with light

she is waving at me


this is how it works


I smile, feel the weight of my frown

everpresent these days

lift, a droplet of grace

worn through my rhino’s hide

to moisten

a long-parched heart


"It is impossible!"
the waiter tells Natalie Goldberg
...dessert -- after the kitchen has closed?

No way, her mortified, Japanese friend thinks
slinks after Natalie and the waiter into the kitchen
to see the playful imp, writing teacher of writing teachers
confront the chef -- Yes? for us? dessert?

        and it is impossible, this life, love
        sanity, sobriety
        these could never happen
        for me

the chef relents
she is too cute, this impudent American

       and I feel a breakwall breached in my heart
       the ocean of dreams threatens  to flood reality
       for me, for you
       for all beings and non-beings
       for the countless Buddhas
       for the thus-come bums
       for everyone