Advice from an Old Vagrant

An old man that I met in '92, told me 
"you should meditate in burial grounds." 
Then he added "In Tibet! Cemetaries in America 
are parks. In Tibet there are half decayed bodies 
or half-eaten bodies left from animals. 
In America, maybe meditate in airports." 
I meditate during root canal.

"You, YOU have to be aware of dying. 
You know about death, everybody writes about death 
and the bardo, but dying is ANOTHER thing all together." 
"Success is false. You cannot be drugged by it. You will die, 
you will suffer in dying, this is inescapable. 
You think you can cheat death, but you cannot cheat dying." 
He died in 2013. 

My old manwas a robust, post WWII guy. 
"Don't let the environment beat ya!" 
You recognize the past tense. 

Dad died twelve days ago, was not into meditation. "THINK!", 
he would say, "THINK!"

Dad taught me analysis, thinking, 
and caring about family as the only way. 
In the end, he had dimentia. 
He had visions of women on the ceiling. 
Not romantic visions, confusing & mind twisting visions. 
He also saw some horror he never told me about. 
I saw it in his eyes.

There are visions that creep within us. 
My old man, now gone, mouth agape, eyes open. 
This is my current haunt. 

How do you shake a ghost when you love him? 
You never escape the visage of your dead hero, 
the decay of his body, his catheter, his spindly legs. 
And you don't want to either. What else is left? 

He told me he wanted to go, 
but that was before his mind withered. 
Even that, he was aware of now and again. 

Once when I was twelve 
I dropped my jack-knife down a sewer drain.

trying to unsee

It's an odd thing, to be handed a tote bag, 
as if one had contributed 
to the local public radio station; 
tote bags are "gifts" for contributing, 
but having the tote bag contain a wooden box 
containing a plastic bag 
containing the ashes of your father, 
is this all that there is? 
In the time of covid there is no ceremony, 
no casket, no family, 
only a tote bag and a wooden box.
eyes open, your gape mouth::
road kill possum on the way home


It never arose 
In my prefrontal cortex
That the days after you
Passed on, would be
Filled with an amalgum
Of salt-water
And downloaded PDFs
Printed so as to provide
Data and attached
Documents about your life
Its end, and of course the
Official John Handcocks.

Whole Cloth

Take fabric
For instance, how we dye
In a certain pattern
So as to create a star-field
And horizontal bars 
Of blood and soil
To draw a swarm.

Take flames, 
For instance, and apply
Their tongues to whole cloth
Which sets eyes wide
And some inner harm
Rises to a boil
Into a shit-storm.

White Noise

                                                                          -- for Robert Tilley

After the night rains
The clouds meander the shoreline
In the steady clatter of stones
Dragged by the waves
Through their own white noise
As one does in one's own
Way of being timeless
Chattering on about the upcoming
Storm which for you
Never came.


How to hold and lift this
Slim tapered glass mostly
Filled, to my lips
Sip and let flow
Into mouth and throat pulsing
Swallows while in the same set
Of moments turning a page
And starting the next

That a pen, fetched 
From a drawer can be used 
To underscore words
To think or consider
The value and meaning 
Of which in this context
So noted