Slow Revolutions

How could we have ever known, on our first date night, that we would fit together as perfectly as if we were the last two pieces of a master carpenter’s crowning achievement. That we would come through all we have come through to arrive at this: an anniversary year marked by a number that serves as a kind of gris-gris for so many high-rollers.

A hotel in Seattle. You, the weekend bartender who attended massage school during the week. Me, the cook, heating chowder for one of your customers. I remember your eyes, that smile, that energy, that way you have about you. I asked if there was a Mr. Lemon. And beneath our seemingly smooth surfaces, layers upon layers began to stir and turn over in their sleep, awaiting us, if only we would make certain choices.

We made our choices, and I walked my stiff-hipped line-cook walk as you stepped off the bus in your bright scarf and bohemian clothes. We had Mexican at Mama’s in Belltown. Don’t know what I had, or if it was any good – my sights were set on you. We bought beer and went back to my studio apartment one block from the Space Needle, where I had no bed, only a couch. We talked and talked until most of the night had slipped by. Hours felt like minutes. We slept awhile, smashed against each other on the sofa. What a comic and seemingly innocuous beginning to the deep, deep journey we would take together!

There was a time, not so long ago, when you were so sick we didn’t know if you were going to make it. All I know is, all the time you thought you were so easily broken, I watched an incredible woman survive, persist, endure. I observed the layers of an unlikely foundation coalesce beneath you, beneath us – the solid ground that only comes with groundlessness, the hanging on that is only made possible through letting go, the firm footing only found on the other side of being lost.

Lord knows the world is full of ghosts, west to east, coast to coast, Alaskan Way to Bleecker Street. I’m grateful to have you at my side, so alive and awake. The notion of life without you is an agonizing one. My heart turns over the rich soil of us, again and again, in slow revolutions.



Song Lines

Listen. A voice inside you is singing. You are following your song lines, you are singing the world and the land into being as you walk upon it.

We are surrounded by teachers: the path we take, the wind, the people on the street, the people in our lives, the one who makes us crazy, the one we admire, the one we envy, the one we pity, our peaceful feeling, our desperation, the goldenrod, the baby’s breath.

There are times when the sky is so blue and the clouds so soft at their frayed edges, that it all hardly seems real. Sometimes the magic of the sun shining on water makes us wonder how we’ll ever leave this place. Sometimes it’s “how will I do this, how will this work, this can’t be happening, I can’t do this anymore, I’m so tired, this is my life”. Meanwhile the sun rises, incredibly, and moves across the sky. The wind blows, incredibly. A bird sings, incredibly.

If your eyes shift to the rearview mirror for too long, you risk crashing into what’s in front of you. Time to go on walkabout again. Time to return to the song lines. Time to just be, time to remember every step is taken on a frail sheet of glass. Everything we do, we do while standing on a falling snowflake. Every time we give up is a new beginning.

So you arrive, from your long and arduous climb, at the platform where your voice has been waiting for you, and you know the sound of it. You know the lines of the song you are following. You are an instrument, the music of the land moving through you as you sing it into being. Alone as you are, you shall be with all the world.


Public Affair

I found you, poem, in my pen.  Took you out for a night on the town, and even to the lecture I was scheduled to give.  How odd to have only just met and then be cramming our tongues down each other’s throats like that, in front of all those people.  I hate to corrupt a fresh young poem such as yourself, hate to take advantage, but you were so into me, and I was under your spell.

So we were off, and there was nothing to be done about it.  No disguising our literary lust, the pronounced hunger in our throaty voices.  On further examination, I found myself tearing your clothes off and throwing you up onto the podium, which is actually expected of a poet by any audience worth its salt.

Still, how wildly unexpected to fornicate like that in front of such a good turn-out, and then to do it again late in the evening at a second impromptu revision pulled from thin air in a dim corner of a hole-in-the-wall dive bar, the one where all the hipsters like to go on Friday nights to whine and complain.

Of course after all that, I invited you to come up with me at the end of the night.  We celebrated with a bottle I’d been saving in the hope that someone just like you might come along someday.  I drank most of it myself, you whispering sweet nothings in my ear, me disbelieving my good luck.  The things you said couldn’t have been more perfect.

Imagine my disappointment when I woke the next day to find you gone, a smoke ring, another one-night stand in my literary love life.



Book Country

I’m excited to announce that my book WALKABOUT is in the October Top Picks of Book Country (a division of Penguin, and a writing community).  I like to imagine WALKABOUT as sort of a coffee-table book.  Several posts from my blog are included in the manuscript, and the book has garnered positive reviews so far!  Thanks to everyone for your support of this blog.


Yesterday morning I got up and went to work.  By 6:30 I had ten pounds of orzo rolling at a gentle boil in two large pots of salted water with a bit of olive oil, stirring often with a huge wooden spoon, rubbing its head against the bottom of the pots every two minutes.  Left untended, orzo has a tendency to settle and stick.  Once it sticks, it begins to scorch, infusing the entire batch of pasta with a burnt odor and flavor.

Once the orzo had been drained, shocked in ice water, drained again, lightly oiled and put away to be mixed with other ingredients later, I got a rondeau of risotto going.  You know the deal: arborio, onions, butter, wine, vegetable stock, beat out the starch, yaddah-yaddah.  While I hunched over the wide shallow French-style pot and stirred the Italian-style rice porridge, the world kept turning, exploding in my imagination with its ten-thousand things.

That was yesterday.  This is today.  So this morning I ask myself, is there a way?  Is there a way I can be here, in this place, a little easier?  And still wanting to know everything without needing to know anything?  I pray those who need rest will get it.  I pray those who need food will have it.  I hope those who struggle to lift their heads might find that quiet strength.  I hope those who crackle with electric energy may continue to burn long into their nights and days, wrapped in the cloak of their own naked fire.

Am I half asleep?  How does this come to me?  It comes to me as I pass stacked boxes of bananas at dawn, as I pass young women running with braided hair, heaps of black garbage bags, tired men collecting cans, dogs, hipsters, strollers being pushed, buses, bicycles, a Dominican barbershop.  It comes to me as if I have plucked at the edge of a web, and the creature at its heart is New York, and the creature has woken while I move along one of its sticky strands.


Tracing Paths

Spirit. The axis upon which the wheel of our life turns.

It’s an easy thing to lose sight of. We tend to get caught up in the spokes of the wheel: our jobs, social status, money, political stance, world news, media. We become absorbed in a constant effort to fulfill all the practical requirements of our lives.

All the while spirit resides at the hub, at the center we return to, however eventually. Maybe we stay with it for only a passing moment, or maybe it’s much longer. Some might spend the rest of their lives operating out of a sense of spirit, devoted to its cause. Others might yearn for more of it, but continually put other things ahead of it. In any case, it remains the source of vastness in our hearts and minds, the intangible substance our lives are truly made of.

So may we all have the courage to trace a path back to spirit, to make a return journey. May we all become spirit-walkers.


Sit. Eat. Sit and eat.

Stand. Stand and walk.

Touch, see, hear, talk.

Sleep, wake, again, wake. Live, receive, give, take.

Listen, speak. Gently go your way.

Heat hands with fire, cool them with clay.

Bow, surrender. Rise, shine.