green

while the wild green is here she seizes the ground
 she scrambles up in the air like she owns the sky
  as if the very atmosphere were her possession
as if she'll never stop embracing this wormy soil
 squeezing mother earth in a sweaty verdant hug
  that's just tight enough to say i love you dear one
   never so rough or careless as to cause any harm
and yet the green is thirsty for her mother's tears
 for the fall and flow of nourishment as she grows
as she runs madly over the hills giggling with joy
 as if all this life and warm sunlight will last forever
as if autumn were a tall tale made up by a trickster
 and winter a scary story told to frighten little sprouts

Jesus, Receiver

I don’t call you servants –
I call you friends.

Yes, I needed you.
Yes, I need you.

When I came down from the mountain,
exhausted from saying
all the inexhaustible things,
I needed you – I needed my friends.

When I returned from my solitude
by the sea, and in the barren places,
where I abided in interior community,
I ached for the company of friends.

When I completed my fasting,
I craved more than bread and wine.
I hungered for your laughter and embrace,
my dear ones – my friends.

When I was challenged by those
who didn’t understand my words –
or who understood them all too well –
your presence gave me confidence, friends.

When they took me and lashed me,
and blood and tears fell from my flesh,
even though you weren’t there,
I drew strength from the love of my friends.

And now as I hang here stretched and dying,
as my breath grows ever more ragged,
I weep with those few beloveds who stayed,
and I grieve that I must leave you, my friends

Show Me the Truth

A Christian,
a Muslim,
a Buddhist,
and an atheist scientist
walked into a coffee shop.

(The Christian and the scientist
were in favor of the pub,
but the other two were not.)

The four of them huddled
around a low table,
clutching mostly hot drinks
(the Muslim had cold brew)
and discussed

faith and surrender
mindfulness and investigation.
And this was their conclusion:

The faith of the Christian,
the surrender of the Muslim,
the mindfulness of the Buddhist,
the investigation of the scientist:

at their best, these are all
the same movement –
to welcome reality as it is,
with all its gentle miracles,
all its cruelest blades.

“Show me the truth!”
cries the whole-hearted soul,
“for I trust that only in truth
can I be free.”

Yet at their worst,
each of these paths trusts only
in the cold certainty of established belief,
closing the door to true understanding.

Let us make a pact
to always examine ourselves
and one another
to ensure that we are avoiding
that snare.

Then the four of them stood up,
embraced,
walked outside,
and looked up, smiling,
into a clear blue sky.

Big Love

Master,
when I’m awake,
will I still love you?

Yes, child,
you will love me then
with the full potency
of your unlimited compassion
for the soul of each living creature,
for the vibrant community of atoms,
for every shining, ebullient star.
Your love will be infinite,
and it will encompass all.

But Master,
that’s not enough.
That’s not big enough
for you.

Sympathy for the Titan

Stop.
I can’t take it.
It’s too much!

*snap*

Go away.
Let me be.
Leave me alone!

*snap*

I’m done.
I give up.
I want to quit!

*snap*

Think of the times
when your stress
has been unbearable.

*snap*

You know you’ve wanted
all that stuff
to just disappear.

*snap*

So tell me: can’t you
sometimes imagine
why Thanos might

*snap*

i am

i am nothing

my so-called self is no-self
an amassment of unallied neural networks
fractious factions fighting it out in my modular mind
an amorphous heap of skittering skandhas

i search frantically among them
tossing aside
body feelings sensations thoughts consciousness
yet i find no permanent “me”

i am everything

an expression of the unity of this uncanny universe
one with the creative currents that give forth galaxies
united with poplars presidents puppies
yet with gifting that is utterly unique

i hunt for any division between you and me
trying to discern my edge
or yours
yet i find no real separation

i am nothing
i am everything
one with the dust
and the divine
i am whole

The Vampires of Kodak Park

When I was in my twenties I moderated
a horror role-playing game for my friends.
Vampire: The Masquerade, it was called,
and it was set in a world much like ours,
but darker: more poverty and cruelty,
a deepening of the usual societal decay.

Plus, of course, there were the vampires.
Vampires and werewolves and witches,
all playing their power games, employing
supernatural powers for blood and profit.
It was all very gothy and grim – an ideal
proxy for our privileged yuppie angst.

I set the game in a crumbling version of
Rochester, New York, where we lived.
Dark fairy godfathers ran crime families,
making the Lilac City run with crimson.
Romani caravans camped in the suburbs,
and the impoverished masses trembled.

And Rochester’s favorite corporate son,
the Eastman Kodak Company, was dead.
The area’s premier real-world employer
had failed. Its vast properties lay empty.
In the industrial complex of Kodak Park,
voids echoed with the groans of zombies.

Inevitably, my dystopian fantasy ended.
I got depressed and had to leave the dark.
I got more depressed and moved south,
and our vampire-haunted Rochester, with
its warlocks and were-tigers and despair,
faded to shared, ghostly memory. Except…

Before I left Rochester, I worked for Kodak
for a period of several months – the time
during which a C-level Kodak exec was
reported to vow: “We are a film company!
Our future is not in digital technology!”
It wasn’t. They filed bankruptcy in 2012.

Last month I visited family outside Utica,
and they’d been to Rochester recently.
They said it was not in very good shape.
They said there was poverty and cruelty,
a deepening of the usual societal decay.
Like our 90’s Lilac City, but much darker.

I don’t know if undead feet shuffle through
the abandoned gloom of the industrial park.
I can’t say whether vampire lords have filled
the vacuum left by fallen corporate giants.
But I’m troubled by reality mirroring fiction.
Our nightmare wasn’t meant to come true.