response to Faith and Doubt

They're parentheses,
belief and disbelief, held
open like two lips.
Life is a breath that passes
through them, arrives. Falls silent.

to all trains

Holy crap, this is the blues.

Within the first couple years I started writing poetry (and my songs started to not totally suck), I noticed that it's not possible to write about something until you're outside of it. You need the perspective of time and maturation to be able to create something that totally encapsulates what you've experienced. Which means, if you can write it, REALLY write it, then it's over. In the context of this here set of lyrics that is
an incredib­ly good thing.

This exact sequence of events did not happen as such, because this process took place over the course of a little over two months. (Although the boots and hat, yes, are real, and look totally awesome on me, though not together.­) Roundabout April and May sort of time period. It was after the shockwaves from what I called "hornet's­­ nest time" (which is not possible to describe)­­ had finally died down. During the time this song describes, the part of myself it took all that nasty to dig up out of where I'd locked it away was more or less firmly seated, and began growing to the point where I could functionally express it through my consciously accessible personality.­­

The preceding paragraph is weird enough, but I'll go one step further and say this. Intentionally investing a system of symbols with the emotional force of your entire personality is not a strategy I recommend for anyone, ever. The development, alteration and application of symbolic systems­ is an area of work in which I've invested a great big chunk of my life, and­­ I still almost screwed it up completely. And even given how effective it all was, I'm embarrassed to think of how everything seemed to me ­­­­at the time. Of course it's very useful to keep an eye out to see whether you've UNintentionally invested a few symbols with part of the force of your personality­. Whether it's a few worrywart superstitions or a great big sprawling paranoid certainty, what's actually happened (if my own experience here is at all comparable) is that you've denied reality, denied existence, to a part of yourself. Which, as long as you live, will speak to you, will stand between you and the universe howling to be let back inside. And it feels terribly alien, inherently wrong, destructively desperate. Till you stop panicking and start listening.­­­­­­­­

the trash is talkin to me
what does it say
why you gotta love
what's gettin thrown away
crushed up cans of soda
b­rown orange peels
motorcycle tickets
cause somebody got wheels

got wheels, got wheels, got wheels

trudgin down the alley
late to punch in
a broken baby carriage
empty bottle of gin
I'm actin immature
and I'm addicted to news
I suck your every word
like it's a bottle of booze

of booze, of booze, of booze

when I let go
I get surprised
brand new ­­­­­­­­­­­black boots
in just my size
a rhinestone heart
a Stetson hat
"this is your song
listen to that"

the trash is talkin to me
speakin my fear
"you're absolutely worthless
you belong down here"
a bag of kitty litter
a toilet seat
"come cry here by the dumpster
wallow in your defeat

defeat, defeat, defeat"

­­­­­­keep on across the river
the Loop in the night
inside my skin I carry
everything that I fight
my heart is like a dry mouth
covered in tape
the truth I want to speak
it has no way to escape

escape, escape, escape

I peel it back
release the sound
I lift my eyes
up from the ground
above the gate
my love, my name
three little words read

there's rails that run forever
I hope that you know
all God's children
have got someplace to go­­­
whatever words you're usin
you listen, you learn
for everything you're losin
something good will return

return, return, return

love, weaponized

"Anything can be a weapon if you use it as one."
Don't know who first said that.
Thank God, though, even something that
can be used as a weapon doesn't have to be.

The act of observation alters things;
Attention moves what can't be told or shown.
No wretched shame or agony can bring
More horror than the gaping deep unknown.
And so I love, for what we love, we know
More intimately than what we despise.
I will descend, and gaze up from below
What answers to no weapon but my eyes.
As stone wears smooth and spattered vomit dries,
As spasmed lungs draw down hot reek, wet chill,
I wrap my gaze, my lips, my hands, my thighs
Around what I cannot escape. I will
Remain, remember, love, accept, until
terror itself breaks, and I've had my fill.


Divide and conquer: invert and multiply.

one grows, acquainted with the slow, dull ache
that holds, like woven fingers tightly clasped
around a word there is no breath to gasp
nor room between to loose the sound it makes.
there, twisted in, pressed by hot skin on skin,
the shape of things takes on the smallest groove.
with neither space to alter nor improve,
there is no foe to fight, no fight to win,
but only crooked fingers reaching in
and in and in to touch, until they pinch
that last raw nerve, which stretched but never broke.
then pain at last flares bright, and there begins
destruction, change, some fraction of an inch
through which dead years leak like a puff of smoke.

"...remember your hippopotamus oath!"

Here's the full text, the ancient and the modern side by side.

One of the little quips I have about myself is that I'm a hospital.

But I'm not the doctor. I just make room, I make a room and if somebody shows up needing to be healed, all I do is make a place where it can happen, then get out of the way while the real Doctor shows up and does the impossible. Even for me.

A "room" can be anything: any form, from a poetic stanza to the shape of a conversation to a moment pooled out of a season of time. Christ said, "in my Father's house there are many rooms," but heaven isn't a building made of steel and brick. It's the place where the war is over, and everybody won. My favorite definition of magic is still Gareth Knight's, "the creation of forms for spiritual forces to indwell." There's one spiritual force who trumps all others, one name through which all other names may be drawn and the poison purged out of them. I don't have to quarantine myself away from my own life anymore because there's not a fountain of plague at the center of my soul.

It doesn't make sense and I can't explain it, but it's still true. I'm free. And the best way to celebrate that is to seize every opportunity to pass it on.

"WITH PURITY, HOLINESS AND BENEFICENCE I will pass my life and practice my art. Except for the prudent correction of an imminent danger, I will neither treat any patient nor carry out any research on any human being without the valid informed consent of the subject or the appropriate legal protector thereof, understanding that research must have as its purpose the furtherance of the health of that individual. Into whatever patient setting I enter, I will go for the benefit of the sick and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief or corruption and further from the seduction of any patient.

WHATEVER IN CONNECTION with my professional practice or not in connection with it I may see or hear in the lives of my patients which ought not be spoken abroad, I will not divulge, reckoning that all such should be kept secret.

WHILE I CONTINUE to keep this Oath unviolated may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art and science of medicine with the blessing of the Almighty and respected by my peers and society, but should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse by my lot."