Oregon gone

soon a dozen frontiersmen, each venturing out from the base camp as far as we can go through swamp and foothill within our own skulls where the bull moose and grizzly bear and horned owl call and sinister tribes compel strenuous rambling if we were to preserve our own thinning scalps, concede the unmarked route will force us to doubt our own skill and remove all excuses to others have beaver pelts or gold dust or speak of cannibals . affectionately


Straight ticket

uncommonly wanting to spend lots of money, get a new wardrobe, hot sneakers like David’s Hawaiian number, drove to a pseudo-alpine village with its sidewalk cafe, offbeat card shop (guess what I found) and the bookshop where that movie script jumped to my hands, the post office to mail packages and notes addressed and sealed a week ago in Virginia but neglected to send off, at last, then, somewhat poorer, more piles of shuffling, for starters, and a nap before the grocery, dropping off shirts at the laundry, photocopying foliage outside my window in just one day in the life of a bachelor missing you dearly

Margin to margin

to various degrees in a free-fall through much of this trip with a few encountering a work-and-worship community much less a fresh voice, at least, oh, well, I get goosebumps every time I reread the final pages and think of all the possibilities we lost . for whatever that’s worth, don’t forget, when storm clouds appear, prime the pump . peace & love, all the same

Hail, Xenia

assuming you’ll never see frail fragrant blossoms pendulous as an archway in the museum I parachute from our embrace so wide open I’ll drift a mile in the bobbing fullness of an eggshell antiquity . clearly, our love of your plump dreams would feast, yes, pray, at last lifting these arms together . maybe nothing more than the snap of the cord could be lovelier

Cairo syrup, my dear

a sinkhole garden viewed from that kitchen window as a kind of sphinx with beanpole pyramids when you were young, the world seemed limitless just see what we’ve found since, in the perimeters of a root canal while watching a grosbeak feeding merrily at the other side of the dentist’s window painlessly, as promised . keep smiling

Beware, the Romantic Cult of the Artist

Yes, we’ve admired madmen, especially those of a tragic sort via what I see as often incestuous works of art. You know, celebrations of other works of art or, especially, their creators.

In effect, there’s a question. Other works based on mythology, classical or Nordic, typically, face immortals who are still caught in some dimension of time – how else could they spawn children?

Turning the focus from flawed gods to the Immortal Artist, then, implicitly asks: Are madmen closer to God? Or filled with demons to be cast out, perhaps as artworks?

You know, the cliché history of poet suicides or pianist-composers who die at an early age or libertine actresses, that sort of tragedy, not always as a consequence of defying the gods, either. Think of all the poets in the core opera librettos – a shorthand for the librettist himself or the social commentator – as well as the composers or singers. It’s a long list.

Remember, too, in many Native cultures, there’s a special place for the madman as gateway to ancient wisdom or healing or a netherworld.

Admired madmen but also feared them. Just don’t get too close, even with a morbid curiosity.

Like the artist, they exist at the fringe of the village.

It’s implicit even in hymns about hymns and the raising of voices.

And also my speaking here as a fellow poet and novelist.


It’s hard to look beyond our own boundaries and explore the greater world beyond.

This is crucial, if we’re to engage others, in light of murder, rape, warfare, and other oppression and injustice around us. Is art really far from fostering imitation in life itself? Or is it rather for escape from any reality? Do we desire encounter or flight?

Earlier, I admired dazzling tricks and outward style, derring-do, and jests with fancy footwork. Shining surfaces and surreal images.

Over time, that’s changed.

My heroes have become more human and flawed, as well.


Throughout much of Friends’ history, many of the fine arts were offensive to the faithful; most painting, drawing, sculpture, fiction, theater, music, and opera were seen as superfluous vanities, engagements that took our attention away from worship. “We Quakers only read true things” is how one Friend expressed the matter when returning an unread novel to a neighbor. For a people who refused even gravestones, worldly adornments detracted from loving a heavenly Father with all their heart, mind, and soul, as well as loving one another as Christ had loved his/its followers.

Tertullian issued a related warning, in De Spectaculis, Latin circa 200 CE. Essentially: “The Author of truth loves no falsehood: all that is feigned is adultery in His sight. The man who counterfeits voice, sex or age, who makes a show of false love, anger, sighs and tears He will not approve, for He condemns all hypocrisy. … Why should it be lawful to see what it is a crime to do?” (Translation by Kenneth Morse)

As was recognized in Zen some centuries ago, when people started writing and singing and painting and acting from their spiritual practice, the flowering is already past its zenith. Nonetheless, we also know the power of the Zen-suffused works as they extended on to pottery, architecture, tea ceremony, even martial arts.

When I view Japanese and Chinese art, the Zen/Chan pieces jump out in their freshness from the well-schooled stream of traditional art.

Thus, with poetry or musical performance that knows living silence: a whole higher dimension. Necessity for revolution here. Transformation. Transfiguration. Transcendence. Transparency, too.

Is this a matter of like recognizing like spirit?


My real distrust of the celebration of the artist as a demigod comes in a plea for greater humility.

Yes, we work – as the poem Toltecatl, translated as “The Artist” by Denise Leverov details lovingly before countering with “The carrion artist: works at random, sneers at the people, / makes things opaque, brushes across the surface of things, / works without care, defrauds people, is a thief.”

The contrast is telling.

We’re hardly alone in work. Plumbers work, paying the price in their knees. Farmers work. Teachers work. Mothers, especially, work. Go on down the line, and admire all who do so with developed skill and intelligence and service. Who can say one field is truly superior the others?


I’m left wondering about a crossover identity of artist and priest, an expectation that the artist is expected to guide others into love or even the natural wonder around us.

It’s a fine line, between being a priest and a demigod. An inflated ego is a constant temptation, among others.

Still, how can I not love the movie “Amadeus”?

Who do you look to for inspiration?

Loves and fishes

three sessions dancing in a mental field followed by crisis in prayer life and practice of the sexual nature, followed by money and possessions Must run . Will walk later . because I hadn’t thought they’d be so closely related will you scratch the cat for me . every grub feeds on stage fright . with all encouragement, Woodchuck .  birds are singing and carpenter ants invade the bathroom my brain goes ever into these leaps, as long as we’re at it at, beginning of the year we received a pay raise under the new contract, finally


I’m looking for a new motto

I really didn’t use this online, but it did give me a focus:

blogging about Dover

and the world beyond

But now I’ve packed up and relocated. The way this Red Barn blog functions, though, Dover will continue to be a big part of the lineup. It’s a happenin’ place, for one thing, and my next book is a unique history aimed at the community’s 400th anniversary, which takes place in 2023.

As I refocus, I’m open to suggestions. Officially, the heading’s subtitle used to proclaim “a space for work and reflection.” Somewhere along the line, it became “come view the world from my loft,” but now even that is, no pun intended, up in the air.

This blend of here and there has me thinking of dreams, which have one foot in the present and one in the past, or so I’ve heard. From previous moves, I know that my previous home will be part of my awareness for a long time ahead.

Thanks for the memories. And for the new adventures.

Now, though, how should I define my new reality?

Favored cousin

as for the cure to feeling oh so blue center (as in meditation or prayer) untangle knots or go out weeding by the kitchen (see the worshiping community as a kitchen, too) go off to any place where there’s nurture and a certain kind of warmth then prepare a decent meal, slowly concentrate on digging out, one emotion at a time, not just feelings or thoughts on the run before my flight from the opera