How to Do Nothing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How to Do Nothing

First you must wash the window to observe more clearly
the dandelion seed heads bobbing in the wind. Next,

announce on Facebook and Twitter that you will be offline
for the next two days, if not forever. Heat water for tea.

Remember the bill you forgot to pay, and then cleanse
your mind of all regret. Consider industrial solvents

and the smoothness of sand-scoured stone, the miracle
of erasure. Eliminate all thought, but remember

the water. Hitch a ride on a Miles Davis solo and float
away on a raft of bluesy notes and lions’ teeth,

and wonder how to sabotage your neighbor’s leaf blower,
but nicely, of course. She’s a widow with a gun.

Now it is time to empty yourself. Close your eyes.
Become a single drop of dew on a constellation of petals.

Evaporate, share the bliss. Stuff that dog’s bark
into a lock box alongside the tapping at the door,

the phone’s vibration, the neighbor’s rumbling bass,
and the nagging, forgotten something that won’t

solidify until three in the morning, keeping you awake.
But don’t ignore the whistling. You must steep the tea.

* * *

“How to Do Nothing” was published in Volume 4 of Steel Toe Review.

steel toe

Chipotle

DSCN5979(1)

Chipotle

Sometimes it pauses and the light
translates what we’ve lost,

momentarily framing the taste
entering our bodies through

mouth and nose and eye,
the knowledge of dissolution

enhanced. One bite
and it all returns: fire, peat,

water, the retracted
flesh become another’s

endeavor, as if giving form
to the world of air.

Without remorse,
we steal its most intimate self.

file8171343794847

“Chipotle” first appeared here in January 2015.

Recording of “Untitled from 1988”

file2281274629261

This first appeared in 1988, in Aileron. At the time I was experimenting with movement and breath and line, and wrote quite a few of these meditations in this form, some more successful than others.

* * *

where breath begins
it ends consider
light its secret

structure the sense
of limit defined
if a hand

recalls what the
eye cannot which
is the source

of remembrance one
touches more deeply
or allows itself

to be touched
a difference only
in the approach

file9071336337066

The Fullness That Precedes

image

The Fullness That Precedes

it is not
the moon but
rain that attracts

me to this
place no faint
light no shadow

but the fullness
that precedes its
history that of

magic from nothing
to nothing by
which one may

discern perfection a
cloud the solitary
note of distraction

image

Written in the 80s, “The Fullness That Precedes” first appeared here in May 2015.

Recording of Requiem II

image

Requiem II

To say what becomes: this word
bends in the wind of our

breath. Is this too simple to
say? Our bodies gather yet retain

nothing. Numbers, phrases, the way
the ocean rolls. Once I saw
a whale at dusk. Or rather I saw its

tail part the water and disappear
into darkness, an answer too complex
and sweet for tongues to comprehend.

But waves seldom explain. Imagine
something nearby but beyond reach.

Think of clouds and shrines, consider light.

image

“Requiem II” last appeared here in June 2017.

“Bittersweet” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

RO

Ro

When this note fades
will it join you in that place
above the sky
or below the waves
of the earth’s plump
body? Or will it
circle back, returning to
my lips and this
hollow day
to aspire again?

Note: Ro designates the fingering required to produce a particular note on the shakuhachi, the traditional Japanese bamboo flute. In this case, closing all holes.