Making Webs

Within the radioactive exclusion zone
the spider webs are erratic and misshapen,
as if the spiders are on some exotic drug.

Still, they’re busy making webs. It’s simply
what they do, what we do. Consciousness
modifies itself regardless, even as cancer.

In a harsh world without mercy,
we’re at the mercy now of our own
relentless greed and ignorance.

Even as we seek the nightly succor
of temporary oblivion, our sleep
is troubled by the restlessness
of a corrosive guilt.

Costumed forms drift through chic stores
in postures of desperation, averting eyes,
handbags brimming with tranquilizers.

In the stress of overcrowding, rats
turn on each other, even to the point
of cannibalism. We consume ourselves.

Jesus is not coming to save us.
America is not coming to save us.
Our cleverness is not going to save us.

An invisible audience circles the globe,
as if at some stupendous theatrical contest.
We are both contestants as well as observers.

Whatever we once believed is now becoming
obsolete, the once-trusted paradigms no longer
make sense, king chaos has regained its throne.

There is no happy ending to this story, this story
has no end at all — things get worse and then
they get better, then get worse some more.

We may imagine we’re in control until
life demonstrates that’s not necessarily so.

Nevertheless, like the spider, we’re here
to act — that’s simply what we do.


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We See the Parts

Our national angle of vision is skewed:
we see the parts but not the whole,

we see the bacon but not the pig,
we see the burger but not the cow,

we see the salad but not the migrant
in the field, sprayed from overhead
by poisons from the crop duster,

we see the churches and cathedrals,
but not the preachers in back rooms
hording cash and molesting the young,

we see a crowd pledging to a flag,
but not the cadre of violent children
gaming the skies with weaponized drones,

we see the promise of all men created equal,
but not the hypocrisy of misogyny and racism,

we see politicians claiming to serve the people,
but not the payoffs and bribes from their sponsors,

we see the mounting multinational corporate profits,
but not our own civilization on the verge of extinction.


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My religion was first like the religion
of those whose very hair stands on end
when contemplating the implications
of the mere existence of anything at all.

Then it was like the religion of the ones
who no longer needed to go somewhere else,
have something more, be someone other
than the ones they already always are.

Later, my religion had become like the religion
of Irises and Gladiolas, of Maples and Redwoods,
of the summer breeze and high mountain cloud,
of gleaming river stones in luminous beams
of a sumptuous full moon at midnight.

When my final religion fell away, it was as if
nothing had happened, nothing had changed,
this love persisted beyond comprehension,
and this world, already a breath of “Ah”,
revealed its intrinsic transparency.

Now I see all of that as an engrossing play
of names and forms, fantasies of interpretation
on perception, or a meandering path leading
inexorably back to where I began, feeling
to infinity, hair standing on end.


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Basically Nuts

There is a thin young woman who leaves her apartment several times a day wearing a running suit, black shoes, and an enormous pair of headphones which gives her head the appearance of a fly in a close-up macro-photograph. She walks quickly, and with great determination. Circling the block several times, looking neither right nor left but straight ahead, when she passes me and my dog, it’s as if we are not even there, so focused is she on her mission. The dog offers a brief growl, but it is wasted on this person. From a distance, she is either zen or OCD. In many ways, the two may be more similar than not.

At this stage, I have come to the conclusion that most humans verge to one degree or another on their own private insanity. Some are just better able to disguise it for a while, even from themselves. At a certain point, they may catch a sudden glimpse of themselves in the mirror and shake their heads in a kind of epiphany, finally recognizing what others have long suspected: they’re basically nuts.

There is an orange-faced criminal psychopath who imagines he is the ruler of America and rightfully deserving of a pledge of personal allegiance from discerning people everywhere. He would like to have a tall wall built around this national asylum to which we have been consigned by twisted fate. The rest of the world would press themselves against the fortress wall and sigh with envy at our good fortune — to have this superior specimen all to ourselves to worship and praise for his brilliant hairstyle, incoherent pronouncements, and borderline schizophrenia. They say that we are given the opportunity to review our life in retrospect once we spring off this mortal coil. His review may never end, and for a while, he might just like it that way. Like I said: basically nuts.


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Ghost Dogs

Still dark on the street at 4 AM
in the dim glow of a street lamp
weird shadows cast by windy trees
on a hallucinatory spree
suddenly the hair stands up
on my hairless pet —
loping down the block
improbably, two huge incandescent
ghost dogs, maybe spirit wolves,
they seem to be oddly grinning
as they approach, my Chihuahua
starts to bark, then swallows
the yelp, thinking better of it
I scoop her up swiftly
then back into the shadows
as the two animals pass us
they don’t pause to look
they have no destination
but they’re eager to get there



Afternoon in May

Late May afternoon out on the street
all is calm and quiet in the Golden Hour
it doesn’t matter if these are the last days
in the White Willows, the cooing doves,
calling, confirming their existence,
confirming the concrete substantiality
of the objective world of appearances,
regardless if these are truly the final days,
if this is to be the final day, inconceivable,
and perhaps better that way, in the Golden Hour,
in the time it takes to gaze into the Willows,
to admire their beauty, to coo like a dove,
to love what will not last, cannot . . .


If one truly understood their motives, they would certainly be formidable. As it is, few have any real insight into why they do what they do, especially the young. I was young, and all I knew was that I needed to go. I needed to leave behind everything familiar — home, school, friends and family, the whole reinforced network of oppressive cultural conditioning which had produced the mental/emotional/spiritual disease infecting my country. I was looking to go beyond all limitation, not realizing yet that any limit is mind-made. I had a lot to learn, and many adventures ensued.

Now I am much older, and live in a small concrete box in a complex of many such boxes stacked on each other, in a nondescript city where sirens sound all day and into the night. The country is far worse off than I could have foreseen, and the planet itself is in the midst of a mass extinction. Every day, the news just gets gloomier and events more dreadful. My species is a pestilence on this globe.

Clearly, suffering, horror, and catastrophe abound. Late last year, my whole town was destroyed. One might imagine that I would be pretty depressed about how life has unfolded, but the thing is, I don’t mind. Sometimes I try to write a word or two, but she sees that, climbs over to my lap, and demands to be worshiped and adored with my full attention. I submit, forgetting all the good ideas I was about to write down for posterity, and instead fall into the ritual of petting and praising which she has come to regard as her natural and rightful due. One thing I have learned, and it has served me well: Love clarifies one’s motives, rendering all else bearable.