F l o w

2014-3-22 Long Exposure H2O  4753 - Version 2

Blood flows through me and I don’t know about it and I can’t live with­out it. Some peo­ple cut them­selves to be sure about the liv­ing part. Feel­ings flow through me and I may not know about it. Is there a knife for that? Is there a third way? If I admit that I know they are there will faith be enough to make me know them?
I got no skills with this, but I can’t afford to ignore them. Appar­ently it doesn’t work that way. If I con­tinue to ignore them them they take on a weird life of their own, coag­u­late into threat­en­ing clots and force them­selves on me. This is my expe­ri­ence.
So I am say­ing that I am want­ing the flow, putting it out there, in there.

I set my phone cal­en­dar now twice a day to hum to me at 9:30 and 2:30. The name of the appoint­ment is “pause”. Just a lit­tle sec­ond, a gap, a wing­beat, to check in,
Find my flow.

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Deschutes River Noon

If what is dark and rid­dled now can
Give way to some­thing gold
In a moment, once in a while,
I am more than ok. But if it never does and
Some­times it never does and
Dark stays the same, can I swim
In those waters with any kind of humor?

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There’s A Thin Line Between

I sat in the hot pools at Bre­it­en­bush with var­i­ous kind souls recently. The stars hid behind a blank, dark sky. It was com­fort­ing, the blank­ness. The moon was new and absent. It rained. I rested. All the doing stopped; I dreamed. I felt an assur­ance that what I don’t know now, that what I don’t get in this life, that what I work to know but still only glimpse, is wait­ing for me beyond a benev­o­lent white line of light.

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Escutcheon

Escutcheon

Bat­tle worn and bat­tered and rusted some­what;
the rain affects me more than it once did.
All the fools I believe sur­round me are them­selves
sur­rounded and I am one of those in the cir­cle around the fools
who sur­round me. Who knows who the joke is on.
I, like they do, have the right to my worth
only because I am a soul wield­ing breath,
like it’s my sword, thrust­ing in and out, exhausted,
tri­umphant, relent­less, until it isn’t, until it stops.
And then what of my worth and right?
Does my breath prop up my worth?
Or, does the last long exhale draws me with it?
I leave with that breath and ride it like a dan­de­lion seed head
blown on the wish of a child.

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Untitled Poem

One time I thought one thing mat­tered
and that thing gave way,
gave way like a div­ing board pulled from the diver
when she was to spring to high­est heights,
it gave way like that to
some­thing else, this other thing,
and it was all that I cared about because it mat­tered more
and just when I thought I couldn’t think any
more deeply it fell through like an old attic floor and
there I was, falling
through the insu­la­tion again.
Even as I passed through the itchy glassy pink I found
my way to a deeper know­ing of the thing that I cared most
about but when I hit the floor it left me like the dream I dream
when I say this time, this time, I will remem­ber this
and then I don’t.

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Christmas Eve

I met a man in the ER. He has mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, which is a ran­dom marauder that tar­gets the nerves. He was bed-bound, but more on that in a minute. He had belly pain which is what i was called for. He had a rup­tured appen­dix. This is a dis­ease for which West­ern med­i­cine is designed. We are really good at mechan­i­cal issues where we can remove the offend­ing organ and sup­port the rest of the body while it recov­ers. It really is cool It works. In the past, rup­tured appen­dix was a killer. The prob­lem is that when the appen­dix gets hole in it, shit rolls out in to the abdomen. That is what my patient had. Off we went to the OR.That part is fine, bor­ing, etc. He did well.

In the course of talk­ing to him I learned that he lives in a sin­gle wide. Doesn’t need more because he can’t move. He has mon­key bars installed through­out the place to allow him to escape a fire if one arises; or he can make it to his wheel­chair for a doctor’s appt. He has a care­giver 4 days a week. The rest of the time, he is in bed with jars for his piss and no help if his bow­els move and what­ever he can get to read. The ambu­lance squad said it was des­per­ate in the trailer – I rarely read such a poetic term from them whether “good” or “bad”. Jars of piss all around and open cans of tomato soup with bro­ken egg shells. Desperate.

He is 71.

I keep him in the hos­pi­tal for as long as I can, but it comes to an end, on Christ­mas Eve. His wife, deaf and help­less will help him home from his appen­dec­tomy. He can’t swing through the trailer for a few weeks because of surgery. This com­pletely undoes his way to live in the world. He will read romance nov­els with his head­light on, with his legs use­less under him, with the tree sparkling in the patient lounge on the fifth floor of the hos­pi­tal. He is screwed I guess, but when I talk to him he asks for noth­ing. He wants out of the hos­pi­tal, wants to go “home” and I can’t get it. But as I sit with him I real­ize that home is sim­ply not here, in this sick per­son place. Home is where his deaf wife does her best for him while she can until she can’t and she leaves again for points south and he passes the days with a head lamp on to illu­mi­nate the tawdry romance novel he some­how has next to him and he turns the page and turns the page.

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Pretty Good Flower

The night falls on my time alone.
They are the same, the time, the night.
I have I take I request I make I demand I require
this time and because you know me I never get past “I have”…

It is a spaghetti bowl, your hair on fire, a flower.
I am pretty good with a flower, espe­cially one dying.
I can’t deny the metaphor.
I am a sur­geon
I am pretty good with a dis­ease, espe­cially if you
Are dying.
It is the liv­ing with it that gets messy,
Where the ten­drils curl on the nice neat thing.
If you are ter­mi­nal the con­ver­sa­tion, the me and you part gets sim­ple, like water, clear.
If you are hav­ing to live with some­thing, long term, and I don’t have an answer for you, if even and espe­cially if that answer is Death, then
we have a prob­lem and it is then that West­ern med­i­cine feels like alge­bra
in a world of cal­cu­lus.
Heed this: Go find a shaman. Come back to me, the sur­geon, if and only if you have a knife hang­ing out of your gut. Oth­er­wise we are danc­ing around fires that have smoke but no flame.

You are dying right now and you and I both know that.
I will switch back to me in my mind, as I hold your hand, because me is all I can han­dle in the moment of your end­ing and yet, I don’t know why, I remain here with you.
My dying, because I have no know­ing about it, is mean­ing­less,
No mat­ter how inevitable it is, until
chest pain or a drunk dri­ver or a slip and fall or any damn thing
moves me one step closer. Before the slippy step that pro­vokes the obvi­ous,
death remains a the­ory.
From that step, after it, from any step that wakes me up, like an EKG, a colonoscopy, a swerve
it gets ridicu­lously real.
Until the fear arrives, I remain aloof from the time­line of
my own inevitabil­ity, proud, for­ever 21, for­ever asleep, but vibrant, and hop­ing.
.

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Bounty

Bounty

In the whole world, I and my fam­ily, are well within the top 1% in terms of money and our hope of “mak­ing it” finan­cially. We have more than enough food and we have a house and cloth­ing and the chance for a financed retire­ment. Most of the world, even in the United States, has no hope for retire­ment, much less a love for the J.O.B. that finances today. (Maybe there is no mis­take that in the Bible that Job and his story of mis­ery and faith is named job.) I have sta­ble and sat­is­fy­ing work, and not just a job. I worked hard to have that and I am lucky to have that com­bi­na­tion – or I am blessed or I am rewarded – no mat­ter what I am in a place of hav­ing when many are in a place of not havnig. As I am look­ing to the new year I am focus­ing on the word grat­i­tude. 1%? Is that an acci­dent? Is that prov­i­dence? Is that a cycle? That seems to have less to do with me than forces out­side me. I…

I know that I am a soul mov­ing through this earth with an amaz­ing oppor­tu­nity to be in a func­tional body and I hope to learn and love and rel­ish this expe­ri­ence in a body. I have to feed this body almost end­lessly. There is a part of my brain that con­tin­ues to make up sto­ries to make food inter­est­ing every three hours while I am awake. That is ridicu­lously amaz­ing. Noth­ing, and I mean, noth­ing, becomes inter­est­ing again every three hours except food and water. There are not enough super mod­els in the world to incite a three hour turn around in curios­ity, but a tomato sauce at lunch fol­lowed by beet salad at din­ner? I am up for that. How does my brain cre­ate this inter­est in food? That alone is miraculous.

I am sure that if I were really hun­gry I would under­stand much more clearly about my inter­est in food and my abil­ity to get turned on by it. For some rea­son, at least now, I am not hun­gry, ever. Maybe, like Job, all this will wilt away and I will lose every­thing and grow boils, and then what? Will I still be grate­ful? Am I grate­ful for the bounty or can I know that I am sus­tained no mat­ter what, even if I were to really get hun­gry? Some­one I love is with­out heat every day right now and he has no recourse. He is just cold at night. It makes every day dif­fer­ent to know that tonight will be unrest­ful. I don’t have that.

I don’t know how it all works. I am, as I said, a soul mov­ing in and amongst this body and I am want­ing to enjoy that truly. At the same time I see pain around me. I won’t aban­don my plenty on behalf of some­one else’s pain, but does that make my enjoy­ment of my ride through life, in some way, less? Guilt serves no grow­ing pur­pose, so I am not look­ing for more of that. That leaves me with grat­i­tude for the won­der of the life I have, for the egg­plant on a Tues­day, for my wife’s hands who pre­pare it, for my work­ing hands that pay for it, for the sun and the rain. It leaves me grate­ful for the heater that kicks on at night when the tem­per­a­ture falls to any­where below ideal.

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Untitled 101

There goes my heart, again,
run­ning.
Until it actu­ally leaves, until I found it run­ning through the woods,
the past and future were every­thing and being between them is not
the same as being present.
That (the present, the gift) hap­pens when my heart skips
down the path and my mind scram­bles, as it always does,
for any­thing famil­iar, and…
and what is left is present, the other part, like I said, my
heart, in me and gone, both at once.

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Busy Brain

My brain is a whirling dervish. Mostly I am in it. It is inter­est­ing, flashy, sexy even. Exhaust­ing. I would like to step off that ride for a minute please.
I have been med­i­tat­ing, a lit­tle. I like to have def­i­n­i­tions for words. My brain, you know, wants them. It is relent­less.
Med­i­ta­tion: the process of me being with my busy brain. If there is a part that is only with my brain then that part is not my brain, my mind. Let’s cross over to mind instead of brain. And the med­i­ta­tor is the part of me that is with my mind but is not my mind. I am both these things at once, like a par­ti­cle and wave, like light. (this is a mir­a­cle or sci­ence or both…uh oh, here we go again)
The med­i­tat­ing part of me can love the mind but not be the mind. The med­i­ta­tor is engaged in compassion.

Com­pas­sion: the act of being with another’s pas­sion. It is not a feel­ing, but feel­ings fol­low it closely. Com­pas­sion is the deci­sion to remain when every­one else has lost hope and gone home, but it does not require hope on my part, only that I remain. It is sim­ply the being with when the dervish of the mind or the cyclone of the heart are in full force and over­whelm­ing. I am in com­pas­sion when I sit with you while you hurt, not say­ing any­thing, just stay­ing. I am in com­pas­sion when I let my son or my wife get to the end of their rope and mine and I stay. I am in com­pas­sion when I med­i­tate and hang in there with my busy brain, lov­ing it, smil­ing, and waiting.

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