thanksgiving

thanks for nothing
i mean

i’m grateful for emptiness
that is

thank god i realize that nothing exists
no that’s not right

i’m thankful for the occasional glimpse
of reality as it is:

each unique and glorious incarnation
whether breeze or comet
ancient tortoise or human child
empty of an independent self
yet held in perfect love
within the whole

yes that’s it
thanks for everything

reality

this is not the first time
i’ve remembered believing

completely different things
yesterday than I do today

that time, like this time
was because of a disease

but that was my own malady
while this one belongs to us all

as i grabbed the supermarket’s
last two sad tomatoes

on my first day of staying home
i recalled ten years ago

looking out at the world
from inside my own head

and seeing it completely different
from half a day ago

my hypomanic brain was causing
me to believe things

with all my heart – things
about my life, things about my

marriage. but then thirteen hours
later i would realize

my brain chemistry
had shifted and i was me again

it was bizarre and terrifying
and then last week, in two

days, i went from planning
trips for work and fun

to believing with all my heart
that traveling would be insane

i went from looking forward
to all kinds of gatherings

to knowing with my entire being
that indefinite self-isolation

was the only thing that i
could look forward to, for now

twice in my life I’ve felt my deepest
convictions shift suddenly

once because i had gone crazy
and once because the world had

Vagabond

I’m not rootless
But I’ve picked up my roots
Several times
And buried them again
In new soil
(In renewed soul)

First I was an Episcopalian
Sort of
My grandfather’s influence
Made us occasional churchgoers
Until I was nine
And we stopped

Next I was secular
Maybe visiting church
On Easter Sunday
Deriving myth and meaning
From Star Wars
And Lord of the Rings

Even then I was a vagabond
In middle school
Attending my best friend’s
Southern Baptist youth group
And in college
Minoring in world religions

In my twenties
I discovered my bipolar disorder
And my therapist inspired me
To spend three years
As a committed practitioner
Of Tibetan Buddhism

Then I moved
And did not find a new sangha
I was a practicing “none” again
For about a year
Before Christmas with Baptists
Led me back to the Church

I found an Episcopal church
And became a convert
For the second time
Committed to ministry
And a very
Progressive gospel

But my priest
Turned me on to something
Called the Emerging Church
I found one
And it became my passion
For almost fifteen years

Not that I stopped wandering
During this time
Another long depression
Made me an atheist
And a committed one
Though I still “did church”

And a friend introduced me
To spiritual discernment
In the style of the Quakers
I found a Friends Meeting
And eventually became
A part-time Quaker

I re-committed
To Buddhist meditation
And daily silence
Eventually discovering
A teacher, and a class
That became a little sangha

Now my spirituality enfolds
Each of these journeys
Sacred and secular
Christian and Buddhist
Atheist and religious
Anglicans and Friends

I’m a naturalistic mystic
Half Buddhist
Half Christian
Half atheist
Spiritual and religious
Skeptical and scientific

Not rootless
But richly rooted
And variously fed
My soul drinks deeply
From each of these streams
And I am well nourished

Nine

(Or, “I know all about waiting.”)

When I was six
I saw the very first Star War
It wasn’t called A New Hope then
Yet one was born in me

When I was nine
The Empire struck back
And I came home from that film
Feeling wonderstruck

Then I was twelve
I witnessed the Jedi’s return
He came wielding a green saber
And a compelling maturity

I didn’t want it to end
But then there was nothing
For sixteen long years

When I was twenty eight
The phantom menace loomed
We lined up for hours in costume
And came out wondering why

When I was thirty one
An army of clones attacked
Bringing a flood of sameness
But not much Jar Jar, at least

When I was thirty four
The Sith had their revenge
It was disturbing, not compelling
I was ok if this was the end

And then there was nothing
For ten long years
At least on the big screen

When I was forty four
The Force re-awakened
And I said THIS is Star Wars
I had a new hope once again

When I was forty six
The last Jedi returned again
Earning both love and hate
But mostly love from me

Now I am forty eight
And I saw Skywalker rise
And it was glorious
And it was disappointing

I’ve been a refugee in this galaxy
For most of my life, and now
I’m glad the saga is at its end

can’t even

ooh i can’t even
cause i’m too odd
can’t stop believin’
in a mischievous god
can’t fight this feeling
any more
can’t quite start healing
i’m still too sore

can’t can’t can’t
just can’t even

can’t be a hero
’cause i’m really bad
just mark me a zero
and make me sad
when fools rush in
well i’m there too
i know it’s sin
but i can’t quit you

can’t can’t can’t
just can’t even

giving up

What am I giving up for Lent?
I’m giving up on giving up.
That’s right, I’m relentless now.
Go ahead, try to stop me.

Yesterday I took a wrong turn.
Google Maps implored me
to make a u-turn ahead.
I ignored it. I’m still going west.

But I pulled over for this
all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.
I’ve been here for six hours,
and I might die but I won’t stop.

Then this restaurant manager
told me I needed to leave, so
I started arguing “all means all!”
Guess what I’m doing right now?

God, I hope and pray that I will
somehow make it to Easter.

puppy love

ain’t nobody gonna love you
like your doggy gonna love you
all big wet tongue
and thumping tail

sloppy tenderness
but he will guard you with his life
(and not only his)
if it should come to that

what did you do to earn
such ridiculous devotion?
nothing at all proportional
a bit of kindness was enough

so i hope that you are grateful
for the undeserved grace
for the unmatched gift
that is puppy love

jerk cat

jerk cat you frost my cupcakes
you so cute
you so sweet
you so purrsome
you…ow!
goddamnit jerk cat
why sink your teeth in my wrist?

jerk cat you rub up against me
you say love me
you say pet me
you say we friends
you…ow!
effing jerk of a jerk cat
you swat me with claws out really?

jerk cat you wake me with a chomp
i’m like JUMP
i’m like wha??
i’m like damn!
i’m like…breakfast i guess?
you’re like nah bro
imma cuddle up to you and purr

jerk cat you suck
you adorable asshole
how am i supposed to know
that’s your attack purr?