30 October 2012

Heart Achieves Fusion

Bright galactic whorls,
Her fingertips hold my heart,
Lighting up my sky

Dedicated to Wee Lass

28 October 2012

Suffrage (Sunday Meditation #24)

This morning it hit me that it has been less than 100 years (92, to be exact) since women gained the right to vote in this country.

It has been less than 50 years since the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964...
...less than 50 years since the Voting Rights Act of 1965...

...yet there are those who still refuse to believe there is much work to be done.

This election cycle all we seem to hear is "economy, economy, economy"...but still there are those who want to exclude and disenfranchise human beings due to their skin color, sex and/or gender orientation.

In a particularly dark bit of thinking, I couldn't help but think that those who feel their income, personal taxes and the price of gasoline take precedence over civil rights and equality under the law...will always be slaves.

Yeah, it's the economy, alright. But more importantly, now and forever, it's human beings that matter.

22 October 2012

Magpie Tales 140: He Favors Our Undertakings (Wrong New Order)

Image via Tess at Magpie Tales

His laugh rings clear
as cold cash hits the till
hot bullets hit their targets
while our heads find the sand

Thirteen arrows drawn 
Thirteen stars gone nova
Thirteen stripes flay our backs
Thirteen levels we climb

Black sun throne high in thin air
we groan and gasp, finding him: 
Hollow motto, bitter tears, to know
Satan approves of our undertakings 

20 October 2012

Falling Softly

Rasping leaves, soft rain
Passing first point of Libra
Autumn, take my hand

16 October 2012

Magpie Tales 139: Broken Bread

Midnight Snack, 1984, by Curtis Wilson Cost via Magpie Tales

Gunnar set his ruck down next to the worn alloy post holding up the gate. It didn't look much different than when he had left. Gunnar shook his head, reckoning the eighty-three years local time he had been gone was a drop in the bucket for a metal that was supposed to last for centuries. The gates, though dulled by time, were in good shape. Gunnar knew his brother Hallvard was many things, and lazy was not one of them.

"Hallvard's up, I hope," the worn soldier muttered. His eyes misted briefly, picturing Hallvard at the worn petrowood table in the kitchen. More likely than not, there was a block of fragrant gammel ost and a huge loaf of brown bread laying there, chunks missing where the hungry farmer had taken what they jokingly called the "Midnight Sun" to fill his belly. Gammel ost in this case a name, remembered across the gulf of the galaxy and a home soil left behind in the dim past. Gunnar chuckled, mouth watering at the thought of the cheese he hadn't tasted in decades. The taste of home.

His stomach lurched. Decades. Hallvard was certain to be an old man now. The clinics in the city were the best tech that had survived the Passage, but Hallvard was stubborn. Gunnar imagined his brother hadn't set foot in a clinic for a bad tooth, much less than the gene tweaks that would have kept him alive and unworn all these years. Still, the light was on, and that was a good sign. The soldier shifted his weight to his better leg, leaning down to pick up the dusty ruck. A dull gleam of circuitry limned his forearm, shining through the ballistic fabric of his tunic. It reminded him of the cost he had paid to get back, and how good that cheese would taste on a slice.

Gunnar glanced at the hologram clock hovering just inside his right eye. It was a minute after midnight. He stepped forward, pushing the gate open with barely a whisper, striding down the gravel path towards home and broken bread.

14 October 2012

Into Action (Sunday Meditation #23)

Do not take me for a guru. Do not confuse me with a sage. Do not look for answers in my head. I can claim experience, but make no certitudes as to its efficacy. I can, if you will allow, offer this advice.

If in any worthwhile endeavor in your life...
...you see something that needs doing, then do.
...you see someone who could use help, then help.
...you see someone who lacks love, then love.

Always love.

10 October 2012

Giving the Moon

My daughter has among her books a wonderful volume called Zen Shorts*, which has modern takes on three short stories drawn from Zen Buddhist and Taoist literary tradition. I am quite fond of this book, and is she. In the book is a story called "Uncle Ry and the Moon". Tonight as I settled into a nice post-prandial bliss, some words from Uncle Ry floated up from the well of my mind, as I meditated on grace and gratitude.
"Poor man...All I had to give him was my tattered robe. If only I could have given him this wonderful moon."
Uncle Ry uttered those words as he sat upon that hill, missing his last robe that he gave to a thief in the night, and gazing upon the moon. In my recent adult years I have often felt, metaphorically speaking, like Uncle Ry: not having much to give, but wanting to share the beauty I see with others. That attitude is most assuredly a sea change for my emotional/spiritual/interior life, the one I flounder in far too often.

His words came back to me at the end of a very fine meal, that I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for myself and the good company with whom it was shared. This feeling swept over me, not completely unfamiliar but one that in the past I have struggled to name. Tonight, I realized that it was gratitude. Intense gratitude for having made an offering to some people for whom I care deeply. Gratitude for a warm, dry place to share it. Gratitude for the simple yet sometimes hard to grasp necessity of a human connection.

It has been a peculiar difficulty of mine that I often cannot shake this notion that I am Uncle Ry, a simple man living in a spare cottage with not much to offer in the way of material gifts to friends, thieves or passers-by. Yet in the good graces of love and the warmth of a full belly, I was basking in the silvery light of  our own creation. My gratitude flowed from giving the moon.

*Zen Shorts, by Jon J. Muth, a masterful illustrator who also has written/illustrated Zen Ghosts and Zen Ties. Those three volumes are worth having for the watercolors alone, and are perhaps three of my most favorite children's books in my daughter's personal library.

08 October 2012

Magpie Tales 138: Faith and Reason

Sick Woman, 1665, by Jan Steen, via Magpie Tales

No matter of faith
or inhaling miasmas
bar the door on demons

Nosegays block the stench,
laudanum the pains, good doctor,
holding my wrist a sufferance

Begone with your pomposities!
Away with your fineries!
While I wear mine into hell

07 October 2012

Road Fell Away (Sunday Meditation #22)

October 7th, 2012. The Year of My Discontent.

It has been a year since it happened. 365 days around the Sun, back to where I started, only older. One year ago today, I was laid off from my job. The third time in as many years, a trifecta of monumentally dubious distinction. The honor is mine, but I would happy to have not been...graced...by its presence.

The preceding year has been one of growth and retreat, shock and joy, fear and contentedness. It has been singularly fruitless in the furthering of my career as an architect. Never have I expended so much effort in pursuit of work with so little return. The frustration and despondency have sometimes encased me in a portable sphere of emotional gel, on occasion. Thick, sticky and suffocating.

I am learning to breathe for the sake of breathing. Because I must. Because I exist independently of my education and training, my professional obligations and notions of self-worth appended thereto. It has to be that way, because I was myself before the world tried to define me.

Is there wisdom is this struggle of mine? Is there anything to be learned from this equinoctial year of professional disconnection? I hope so. But I cannot tell you yet what knowledge I have gained, my friends. I can tell you this: that moment when the wheels leave the pavement may well be one of the single most important defining moments of a lifetime, even if we don't recognize it.

Driving the straight and open path is easy, and not necessarily edifying. It is what we do when the road falls away that reveals so much more about ourselves. It may be time to let go of the wheel and trust I hit the pavement at the proper angle when I land.

01 October 2012

Magpie Tales 137: Feed We Must

It Must Be Time For Lunch Now, 1979, by Francesca Woodman, via Magpie Tales

October 17th, [redacted]. Nightfall.

J[ink blurred]...you didn't tell me. You didn't tell me when I met you and [redacted] that I would hate her and fall in love with you.

How could I have known? Of course not. There was no way out from behind those blue-grey eyes, looking at and through me. I was caught, from that first moment. The sea over your shoulder a mirror of those eyes. Me, drowning. 

I am confused, worried, that I can't remember exactly where we were. It was Naxos, yes, don't chide me. But what beach? Was it Agia [redacted] or [redacted]? Goddamnit, I am so tired of trying to remember where when I all I want to hold is you, [tear in page]. I feel the heat, the light. I taste the salt on your skin.

[water stains, smudged ink] was your hold on me, wasn't it? Retsina and octopus salad, olives, lemon and eggs. These I also remember, the Aegean on our tongues. You fed my body and drained me soul. You didn't tell me you were a succubus.

I should have known. [redacted] tried to warn me, but I...I thought she was trying to turn you against me. Is that why you followed me to N[ink blurred]k? The nights in the walk-up must have made you question your sanity. It was cold, that fall, and frozen all winter.

But still we ate. The next meal never far from your mind, our mouths. I didn't question you, [redacted], even when the pictures started. It was then that you started falling, drifting away from me. The fits, the nights and days of no sleep. You stopped eating enough, then stopped eating at all.

I have your camera, still. I found it after the funeral. I had no idea, [tear in page], that it would be the last I ever saw of you. All those frames, fog and ink. Except the last.

Were you in the kitchen? You must have been. I recognize the window sill, the dirty window glass. It must have been so cold for you, especially for not having eaten for so long.

I eat still. I cannot stop. [redacted], [redacted], [redacted] have told me so. 

They come for me tomorrow, [ink blurred]...I pray that I will feast on something, even if it is gruel and a stale crust washed down with tepid well water. I must eat, [redacted], because the memory of love will not keep me alive.

You have taught me so. And I must eat. 

[ink blurred, torn page]