Manchester By The Fucking Sea

I got drunk on the plane
and watched the first half
of a movie about a man
whose older brother dies of congestive heart failure

it’s told in a way
that ping pongs between
the present and the past
and at some point
in the past
the man inadvertently sets his house on fire

there’s a rather
gratuitous scene of firemen
carrying the blanket-covered bodies
of the man’s three small children
out of the wreckage
long after they’d put the fire out

the man and his brother
who’s not yet died
just stand there
watching
not crying
just looking defeated

and I thought to myself
I know more about pain
than you ever will, fucker
my memory of that morning
hasn’t changed in over two years
and by my own logic
it never will

the hole I made in the floor
with the force of my mouth
pressed against it,
my screams shattering the hard wood
and concrete foundation
and all the layers of earth
goes straight to molten core

the policemen who kept your suicide note
for weeks, as evidence,
well, I’ve killed them a thousand times
in as many different ways
and sometimes now
I do it just for fun

before I got on the plane
I waked down to the beach
and watched the water lap the sand,
they’d poured your ashes
into the Peconic
and so I talked to you

I always talk to you
but at that moment you felt closer
and the tide was high with
the fullness of the moon
and it felt like conversation

in hindsight
the movie is garbage.
maybe it’s all garbage.
because who wants to watch an old man
who was once a young man
that got sick
and sicker
and became old
and drove himself into town one night
to hang himself
in the basement of his music store?

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Dark Dark Moon

1.
it’s all too terribly sad–
is it?
even the midwinter sun?

2.
a kind of hammer
and grappling hook with the rope
carefully coiled
and set beside fresh dug earth
around the manhole cover
looked terribly out of place
in the forest.

3.
they were both wearing jackets–
and then all of a sudden
the little one began to growl and whine
i said to the owner:
she’s friendly
and she strode past me
saying:
the big ones paw at him
and he just gets so terribly upset by it.

(before sleep last night
i tried coaxing ocean dreams:
with me as the starfish and you
the dope sea urchin)

The God of Water

They’re called Sea Angels,
nearly microscopic they fly
beneath the ice
in the waters near Japan.

I imagine them
a fluid, gliding
constellation–
each their own design
and distinct yet innumerable

and that maybe
we’ve got it flipped–
it’s the sky’s reflection:
we’ve been searching and insisting
for god
pining
with craned necks

doing everything we do
at the beneficence
of water.

Sssssh

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current attitude: tea
quiet
sweet
milky (non-dairy, standard)

2,000 or so Veterans are en route to Standing Rock.
Listen to the way your body responds to that.
(pleasure of all pleasures)
“Christmas” is on the way… fuck that noise.
Capitalism is an opioid, distresses the guts and makes you constipated.
We don’t need presents.
We need presence.

Shape

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I’ve been reading Derrick Jensen’s The Myth of Human Supremacy and he uses this quote as an epigram to a later chapter. I’m compelled by it, I feel my posture (crumbling)when I look at my phone or computer overlong…I notice my perceptual gateways when driving… these moments of feeling and noticing arise typically after who-knows-how-long…after that tiny whisper from my shoulders, or my low back, or my jaw, or from deep behind my eyes.
I love to ride my bicycle–I can always conjure that joyous choral chant whenever I affirm my love to my bicycle, it never fails. Riding, I feel myself a part of my bicycle, and we move as one. On my bicycle this quote is intuitive…or intrinsic…or inherent…
But in terms of the tools the yoga practice makes available…
Certainly compassion and breathing aren’t human inventions, but how we practice them are inherently human, and so in that sense we are shaping them.
And so how are we shaped by them?

I don’t agree with the thinking that we are meant to master any of this.
I resist answers that are rapidly forthcoming or tend toward tidy summations.

(Radix: going to the root)

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each morning upon waking i embrace my dogs, we snuggle and kiss and enjoy the precious time allotted for such simple loving. we make our way down the stairs, i open the door to let them out, i also go to the bathroom. they come tumbling back in and we head to the kitchen. i feed them eggs, fried, each day. so i get the pan going, melt the butter. i crack the eggs and as they cook i go to the altars of my dearly departed father, and my dearly departed dog-cum-soulmate and light their candles. i boil water for tea. when their food is ready i set their bowls down and as they eat i unroll my blanket, place my meditation cushion down and light my own candle. i sit for a while, holding my very favorite cup filled with my very favorite tea and i stare into the candle.
really, it isn’t long before the thoughts come galloping in.
in these practices we are cued to pay attention to our breath, to follow it. the more i do it the more i think: this breath is the most fundamental collaboration i have with the world. all of the time i take the world in and all of the time i release myself into it. and all of the time, for as long as we know time, we do this together. we may be miles apart, but we are together. it’s not super spiritual, and it’s not meant to be inspiring, it just is. and i wonder if we need to be inspired anymore, i wonder what that even does for anyone. i wonder if it isn’t time to set that to the side, to loosen ourselves from the demands of ‘bliss’, ‘inspiration’, and the collar of having to follow it.
my small grief couples with the collective grief and it sits on the back of my ribs and feels painful. i want to ring it out, though no matter how i shift, how i stretch, it remains. right there, like a fist between my shoulder blades. isn’t that the thing, after all? the desire to change things? in the Lojong Teachings it is written that suffering is a combination of pain and the means we take to avoid it. when we stop avoiding it all we are left with is the pain.
i can only imagine i am not alone in my wish to just have that simple loving, that recognition of love right there in whatever kind of body it lives in, be it human or not. and really, we can each of us create or use whatever mantra helps us navigate the terrain of this life, but at the beginning and the end of the day i am reminded that there isn’t really anything else. and if there really isn’t anything else then it’s high time we wake up. it’s high time we take down the systems that hijack that simple loving by telling us who deserves it and who doesn’t. and if i can imagine that my love and the home i find in it is like your love and the home you find in it, then i know that my pain is your pain, my grief is also your grief, and the system that imprisons one is the system that imprisons all. but it isn’t enough to think this, we must each of us embody this.
can you feel your breath?
can you feel your body?
can you feel the breath of the earth, the body of the earth?
can you feel the breath of all who live on the earth, the body of all who live on the earth?
as you take breath in, can you take it all in?
as you release your breath, can you release yourself into the earth, into all who live on the earth?

The Work

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This has been quite the week.

I have a tendency to resist things that are stated with that emphatic, 100% backing to it, maybe it’s my outsider nature… but there’s that side to the popular yoga culture, that side that’s pushing ‘yoga will save the world’ as though Yoga will get out of bed one morning and decide to stop glacial melt, cap carbon and methane emissions, and put an end to rape culture and police-state violence worldwide…

But now more than ever, probably, the world needs for us to do our practice. To do our practice seen through the lens of the PataƱjali Yoga Sutra 1:2 “Yoga is the intentional resolution of self-limiting (self-referential) thoughts”, which, really, is another way of talking about love. Each time I circle back to a self having the experience, i.e. every time I narrate my experience to myself, ascribing it I-ness, or Me-ness, or Mine-ness: I put a wall between us. I limit the potential for any relationship to truly grow between us. As our bodyminds are the only way we are able to know World and know Culture, we have to start there. The ‘discipline’ practices of asana and meditation are the ways we can really tune into the various ways we relate with, experience, and understand our most foundational existence: living on the earth with gravity. And by feeling deeply into our own experience of existence we can begin, we can actively, and ideally most of the time, feel deeply into the experience everyone else has of existence. Because, I think, if pressed, most people would wish for everyone to feel at home and at ease in their bodies, at home and at ease on the earth. And probably the most important muscle we tone is our compassion. If our practice ins’t grounded in compassion, then what’s it for? Surely there are faster ways of getting the ass in the jeans.

It’s not for nothing that yoga and meditation are burgeoning, we can say what we wish about that, but I feel there is a deeper pull toward easing the fearful state of culture. As we are all enmeshed in relationship with the world, we are behooved by it to do our practice actively: to be with what we cultivate on our sticky mats and meditation cushions and bring it back into culture; to be wakeful in our roles as agents of culture; and rather than bemoan and then ultimately turn away from the rampant irreverence for human and non-human life alike, to face it, and do something about it.

Most likely yoga is not going to save the world, but the practice of it can bring us into a deeper relationship with it. So that we may do the work of being human all the more humanely.