Sunday, June 30, 2013


The night is an empty bowl,
a rat-ravaged nest, a burlap sack of eggs
unravelled at the seams, dislodging
one tidy promise of life after another —

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quantum Poetry

As if this was any surprise.

To explicate: in my ponderings of all things quantumly physical and mechanical, and after a ton of reading and listening to talks on YouTube, I've think I've finally figured out the nature of the universe. It goes like this:

Uni = One.
Verse = Poetry.

Therefore, Uni + Verse = One Poetry.

In other words, we're all just one big poem, constantly expanding, unto infinity.


Any questions?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So Much Still To Learn

In my attempt to understand the smallest things in life, I've been reading about the big things: quantum physics and quantum mechanics. It's daunting, humbling, thrilling, confounding, exasperating, unintelligible, and lights my brain up like nothing ever has.

Last night it was a bunch of stuff about the atom and the electrons going about their orbits. The night before was the language of mathematics in physics' problems. (Keep in mind that I'm operating from the standpoint of Liberal Arts  = The World.)

It's kicking my ass, but I still go back for more.

Here's my current favorite "go-to" thanga-ma-jang:

Not that I expect anyone tuning in to my blog will give any kind of a hoot about listening to a debate between the evolutionary biologist  Richard Dawkins and the "sexiest astro-physicist on earth" Neil DeGrass Tyson, but then again, maybe, just maybe, it'll strike a chord with one of ye.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Not Justified


Sunk deeply under a whirlpool, white-water, the tide.
Wandered to some unnamed ravine, arroyo, canyon.
Burrowed under an avalanche, a mudslide.
Teetered on the brink, plummeted.

Turned off the lamp,  extinguished the flames.
Shut off the gas, silenceed the phone.
Blackened the windows.
Boarded up the doors.
Gave up the drink.
Severed the wires.
Stopped eating.
Went AWOL.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On the Job

My life is a country-western song played backwards double time in the desert. No water. 
A literal giant-of-a-man said this, a painter, who has stopped by our humble glass studio the past few days. We're calling him an angel with broken wings, standing at nearly seven feet tall and filling an entire room with his energy, his enthusiasm, his passions. I see him as one of those people who takes into his self absolutely too much all the time, with few filters, and he suffers for it. He's wounded and deeply perceptive, and also very funny — a person who's endured the contusions of a life lived with acute sensitivity, a person susceptible to injuries of the soul.

Who is this man? And from where did he come?

Dropped from some disintegrating cloud, I imagine, carrying a sackful of oddities to show us. Yesterday it was a long worm-riddled branch, as thick his forearm, grown at one end into an extended hook. I quickly stumbled over it and cut my foot. From his bag he plucked the dictionary he received as a child from his grandmother, and read me the inscription. Today it was a book of line drawings meant as architectural examples: trees, airplanes, cars, fences, boats, etc., all delicately rendered in exacting detail.

He played his harmonica and sang, some bluesy-gospel tunes with air between the lines, spaces of silence. He told stories, some tragic, others less so, but all delivered with fire and drama and a swinging of his lonnnngggg arms and sometimes, to illustrate a point, he'd jump to his feet and loom above us like a Douglas fir in a turbulent storm, all muscled energy.

(And yes, work was going on at a frantic pace throughout!)

There's no story arc here; just a recounting of one of the many reasons I am grateful to have the job that I have. Sometimes it feels like no end of paint, glass, boxes, packing peanuts.....  And then from out of the stratosphere falls this human, this wanderer, this troubled messenger who, along his path, has chosen to pause where we grind out our modest and colorful commerce.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Now that school is out, my morning walk to work is so much less colorful: no hip mamas pushing state-of-the-art strollers down the sidewalk, no dads with a baby in the snuggly and a first-grader by the hand. I don't have to look for cars because there aren't any. The urban streets are quiet, subdued, a little asleep at 9am, and this morning, for just a moment, I felt as if I was back on the rural roads of Carrowholly in Ireland, with the occasional farmhouse and a plethora of sheep, it was that quiet. A marvelous moment, really, being that I am indeed walking through an urban neighborhood, that, just last week at this time, was buzzing with the beginning-of-the-day hubbub. Gone are the buses, the backpacks, the ringing of the bell, the tangle of cars on the narrow streets surrounding the school.

All a little lonely, and I was a little wistful, thinking that if I looked just a little farther down the road or leaned just a bit over a fence, I'd see the aquamarine waters of Clew Bay, with a stiff breeze ruffling-up my hair, and that earthy pasture scent pervading everything. A pub within ten minutes, a witty conversation to be had over a Bulmer's cider.

But not to be had.

Life careens us ever-forward, sometimes so quickly that we are left tripping over our own feet and a little out of breath. When we take the time to slow it all down just a little bit, there we are, in two places at once, one real, one wrenched up from a bittersweet memory.

I held those two spaces open, in my consciousness, for maybe six, or seven steps. Then it was back to the concrete universe that is a city, with nary a sheep to be smelled.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Night

It's been a helluva week: the lingering presence of my deceased co-worker, a romantic break-up still wreaking its havoc on my consciousness, sons in conflict. And yet always the nagging voice telling me to give thanks for something, for anything.

So tonight I'm thankful for my carrot seedlings.

In fact, if I really made myself sit down and take stock, there'd be a list from here to Kingdom Come, but, damnit, I don't wanna. Sometimes it all just sucks. And we have to keep on keeping on, like it or not.

So here I sit, keeping on.

And here's to all of you in your own version of whatever "keeping on" means.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Garbanzo Entanglement

I was at my local food co-op (PCC) yesterday (there are several locations of this particular co-op throughout Seattle), looking at seeds from their small selection, and saw garbanzo seeds, which I've never seen before, and wondered, Who grows garbanzo beans in Seattle?

Later last evening, I spoke to an old friend — who lives on the other side of town — on the phone. It's been a while since we've had a good long chat. And she said, T., I'm growing garbanzo beans! I bought the seeds at PCC!

What the heck??!! We are all entangled, proton by proton.

(Read more on Quantum Entanglement, my current obsession, here and here.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Bright Spark Amidst Gloom

This week, Cascadia Review is publishing one poem of mine every day from Monday through Friday. You can check them out here.

And....tonight I actually received a fan letter! A FAN LETTER!! From the poet Henry Carlile! Here's the link to his page at the Poetry Foundation website: click here.

Needless to say, this certainly made my day. I've been slumping around these past few weeks, adrift in melancholy, mastering the art of moping. I can hear my mother say "Snap out of it!"

Sure, Mom. I'll get right on it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Truth

A quote today from my wonderful friend Rosanne Olson, which sums it all up:

"Oh, poetry: confessor, therapist, best friend, story-teller, lover."

Sunday, June 9, 2013


All of the house became an altar for her wake: her paintings on every wall, photographs from her many years of living, bouquets of flowers on every surface. I could imagine the gardens from which they were gathered, from across the city, June gardens overflowing with renewal.

In the bedroom, where she lay, a row of candles lined the windowsill above her head, and her body, in repose, was framed in flowers of every kind: roses, peonies, foxglove, allium. I gasped when I saw her, grateful to have witnessed this scene of exquisite devotion. She was more beautiful than a Frieda Kahlo painting.

In the yard, in the late afternoon sun, were tables of food, wine, whiskey, beer. Her passing, just that morning, was as present as oxygen, and it seemed as if everyone breathed tentatively, the loss so sharp still, so tender.

Her mother, who, at 94 looked so frail she might blow away, or tip over, held a bouquet of lavender roses on her lap. Her two daughters moved through the crowd like lilies in a breeze, soft, wounded.
Her husband seemed a barely held-together vessel of broken glass, jagged.

Luminaries from the local glass-blowing community were present, as were friends from the many threads of life in which her spirit was entangled.

A man with bagpipes arrived, played Raglan Road, Danny boy, a Celtic jig — oh, so many of us wept when we heard that music, in the way that music has of penetrating every defense. And we were thankful for it — that release.

I was on my way to the ballet, and had to leave before the rest of the musicians arrived — the fiddlers, the guitar players, the banjo players — before the fire that would blaze into the night, before the musicians gathered around her bed to play for her one last time.

But before I left, I placed this poem — typed and mounted on card stock — on the kitchen table altar:

Remembering Connie

Sitting beside her, day after day
painting leaves and stems
on sandblasted vessels
while I babbled on about something,
who knows what, I’ll never remember —
she reminded me that sometimes
just silence is okay. And so we let it sit
between us, a comfortable pause
that came and went unannounced
as each of us settled
into our private reveries.

When we cleared away the palettes,
the sap-green tubes and perylene maroon
to make a space for lunch, most days
she offered a cookie, half a slice
of rhubarb pie, spoonfuls of fragrant soup.
It’s good, isn’t it? She always said.
And my happy mumble, my mouth-full thanks
for what needed no words.

And though her chair is empty now,
her paint-splashed apron
retired to a hook,
it’s in the hushed afternoons
when I’ll hear her, in the quiet
brushstrokes, all that was
not necessary to say,
and yet understood.


Dear friend, we miss you already.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Small Proclamation

At the risk of sounding cliche and woo-woo, I want to pass along some of my new philosophy/practice that has, well, changed my life.

Upon the end of my marriage two years ago, I decided to try, and I mean try, to approach every situation/person from a standpoint of loving kindness. And I'll say right out that it hasn't necessarily been an easy thing. It's called a practice because one has to, well, practice it. It's so much easier to practice resentment, anger, envy, crabbiness, irritability, etc. I admit to having failed miserably and to also having succeeded fantastically in this venture.

And the longer I practice, the easier it becomes.

My mantra:
No expectations, no grievances.
Just right now, this moment, all in loving kindness.

In the past few months, this has begun to pay off. I've started the process of healing broken or damaged relationships, with astonishing and surprising results. It almost feels a little selfish, because I receive so much more back than I feel I deserve for the energy I put out. But it's not really about deserving, but about giving.

I was talking to my younger son about this, and he said that he loves going into a store and seeing how many people he can get to smile, or laugh. I love this!

It's not complicated, and it works, and I say this knowing that I may go to the end of my life with unfinished business re: forgiveness. But there is still time, and not one of us really knows what lies beyond the next corner.

Anyway, I'll get down off my soapbox now, but not before saying that I recommend this highly.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dusk Walk

In the woods at the park, we heard the baby owls but didn't see them. But we not only heard an eagle, it swooped across the path in front of us, damn big.

My younger son likes to point out that before the eagle was made our national avian symbol, eagles were considered a nuisance by many, something to be gotten rid of,  a bird that could conceivably carry off a toddler.

Check this out:

And in other nature news, I watched my 2 year old cat climb a post from my lower deck to my balcony just now, through a tangle of kiwi vines! Solved the mystery of how she arrives at my balcony door in the middle of the night, scratching to be let in.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Once More, A Shattering

Again, the tumbling from heights above my head of all things glass and breakable. (This happened two years ago, here.)

In my left hand: a drinking glass ready to scoop ice cubes from the freezer. As my right hand opened the freezer door, bowls stacked atop the refrigerator slid the millimeter-or-two that they needed to slide in order to pitch forward, off the edge into gravity's depths, shattering in the fall the top half of what was clutched in my left hand, and breaking themselves into hundreds — thousands — of light-glittering shards, to every corner of the kitchen.

In my attempt to stop the tumble, my right shoulder wrenched to a place of staggering pain. I was immobilized, in a sea of sparkle and sandal-footed peril, still clutching the jagged bits of the glass that would have much preferred, at that moment, to be a receptacle for a lime-twisted vodka-tonic. My friend who came for dinner, on the porch to take a call, stepped back in to see what the commotion was about, and said something like Oh T.! Always with the drama!

I suppose it's true. It's like I carry around with me cylinders of agitated energy which, without warning, burst out and wreak their havoc on my world.

My son swept (and swept), and because the setting sun illuminated many slivers seemingly immune to the broom's bristly straw, we brought out the vacuum, which (hopefully) finished the job.

I bandaged my bleeding fingers and toes, set an ice-pack on my shoulder and settled in with — finally — my much-anticipated vodka-tonic, lime twist.

This all happened last night, and this afternoon, I ran into the friend who came for dinner, and he had this to say:

You won't believe what happened last night after I got home....I opened the cupboard to get a glass, and glassware slid off the shelf towards me and fell, and shattered! Yes! It really happened!
Now this is more synchronicity than I'd like to acknowledge. The last time this happened, my life skidded into wreckage that was a long time in repair.

This time? Fingers crossed.
I like to believe that I've got it under control.
This poem has been dancing in my consciousness all morning, after writing the previous post:

Danse Russe

If I when my wife is sleeping

and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
again the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

—William Carlos Williams

Sunday Morning

Sitting on my back deck, looking at this pure blue through the branches of my apple tree (wild, unpruned, rambling), a single cloud wisp in the corner of my vision —

Hummingbirds performing — they seem always to be such concentrated feathered bundles of energy, amazing for their lack of heft. I filled the feeder for the first time in maybe six months on Friday night at sunset, and yesterday morning they were at it first thing, buzzing first just a few feet from my face as if to say, it's about time. I like to think that they are the same pair of hummingbirds that I first encountered when I returned to my B-Street house two years ago. And they may be, but how is one to know? It's okay to believe this, I do know that. And if so, this may be their last year, as the life span of a hummingbird averages 3-4 years. But no matter. There always seems to be a recognition, a greeting as of old friends, and this is enough.

Thinking, also, of aloneness, of the human — and my — desire for companionship. And how, even with a companion, the sense of loneliness might still exist, intensely. Are we bound by our natures to feel this? And is it necessary, so that we'll continually seek out others, who ultimately help to ensure our survival, if not in literal food/shelter/water, but in the need for human interaction? I believe this to be true.

And so we go on. And the hummingbirds return to my speck of the microcosm, their need for a constant source of nectar driving them to my feeder, my need for connection with another living being driving me to refill the feeder.

Sugar and water.
Apple tree, the blue infinity.
Cloud fragment.
Living, still.