Category Archives: Age

Space Mining

There is talk of space mining
the parsing of asteroids
and the drilling through of rocks

(as they float to some gentle tune
amongst a sky not at all a sky
speckled mostly black
but a piece of space as far as the eye can see
caught in the cinema of its memory
of you and me).

For a moment more than most
I see the past and the future
and the many films
that show ourselves mostly lost
and involve the metaphor of mining
in some low-gravity world
which harbors bad things

(the virus of resentment
and of lonely men undone).

Even as I consider this
and want to shout silently
that’s far enough Goddammit
I also know I’m calling out against
the ceiling of my own space

(nothing more).





That which is of the now, or, power that flows (including money)

People who are hungry and have enough money in their pocket to buy one sandwich and no other money look forward to that sandwich. They value and are scared of it to some degree, for what happens when the money and then the sandwich are gone? But still, overall and right now, they are pleased it’s there (sandwich and money both).

Ben Bradlee lived a good life. It says so on the spine of the book here just out of my reach on the bookshelf. It’s a very large bookshelf. It runs across a whole wall of the parlor. Maybe 500 books, not a precise count, but that won’t be far off. There are a number of bookcases in this house. Some smaller, others bigger, but all full up. Most of these volumes I can put a memory to. Not of the books themselves (although that as well) but of when they were bought or where or why, by whom. I imagine most people can do that.

Ben Bradlee’s book was borrowed and never returned from my mother-in-law. She lived in New Hampshire when I borrowed it from her. For a while when she got sick again she came to live with us, here in this house in Maine. She spent about six months with us, living in an apartment in the barn. Perhaps that book was then in a way no longer borrowed as she was living under the same roof. But then she left and moved to Austin, Texas to live with my wife’s sister, her younger daughter. At that moment, from a moral or legal standpoint, the book was borrowed again. But then after a while we also left Maine behind and bought another house in Austin and then my mother in law died. This happened in the summer that we had come back north for a few weeks and so the book became ours. Technically it’s my wife’s and I’m sure if I bought a legal challenge for specific custody of it I wouldn’t likely win, unless it was part or fell under some wider agreement as regards all the books we own. But still if, for example, my wife and I stay together and she dies before I do then it will be something I could then leave in my own will to anyone I wanted.

When Benjamin Crowninshield “Ben” Bradlee, who was born on August 26, 1921, chose his title he must have been somewhere in his early seventies, as the book was published in October of 1995. He lived for a good amount more afterwards, dying 19 years later on October 21, 2014 at 93.

Externally and compared to most of us he had a full life, which is probably one of the markers of it being good. There is something a little smug it seems to me about self-describing your existence as good, but my feelings about this might be cultural. The English feel the Americans are too full of themselves as it is. Brash, which -to one side- is one of my favorite words. Not for its associated meaning, but just the sound and stubby shape which never ends because of the ‘sh’ at the end.

As a child I had a minor speech impediment involving the letter ‘S’ and am perhaps more sensitive to the areas of its deployment than the average person.

Although it was a separate event and happened a few years later, I was also sent to elocution lessons to tidy up my accent which at eleven was thought by my parents (mother, probably) to be too rough or working class. And although class is and was then a central part of the English fabric, I think this experience led me to being highly attuned to the differences, perceived and otherwise, between people and who was good and who was less good.

With regard to Bradlee, and while his life as written about was certainly full of color and famous people he had opinions about, I would find it far more interesting now to read 426 pages about everything that happened to him after he first put his pen down. The last segment. Of course, in a wholly secular way what I would like to read is his unfiltered Afterword. What he made of it all when it was all done. Impossible task and why the obituarists get to do their pale work.

Robards played Bradlee in the movie, but died sooner. I like Robards, but have no idea why, having never met the man. I like Bradlee despite the same shortcoming, although I did see Bradlee interviewed a number of times, so at least can guess at the character he was while playing himself not another.

Getting to the point (or at least outlining an idea or basis to give you something to hang on to or project from), it has always seemed odd or difficult or unfortunate that humans must feel deeply to learn or gain experience and then have enough time for reflection to understand certain things and even then that a large number of the most important things we learn come too late to use ourselves. But we are incapable of helping others. Not because of any unwillingingness on our part, but because of some trait that runs in almost every person; an inability to be told.

One plus one equals one and sometimes a very tiny bit.







When my house is empty
But my heart is not so

I will write of all that is here now
But goes unmentioned

Because of the space
Required to do so currently inhabited

By the daily dust of the doing
Which does not require reflection

And thus in its own details goes unrecorded
And is fading all the while

And day by day and on top of itself
Until an older man without distraction

Finds himself sat and cautious
At the task of even slightly remembering

And he will ask me then
Through the walls of these years

For help with his task
But though willing I will not hear him.


Subjective description of a Grand Mal seizure

It’s not that I see another man
or hear another man’s voice.
I wish it were so simple,
but I don’t, it isn’t.
Something happens, that’s all.

Something happens, not a crack in the sky,
just a slithering inside,
a movement from here to there,
and it becomes all different.

Imagine asking a dog,
skewed down in the middle of the road,
amongst traffic,
simple gunfire falling,
his heart ripped open,
a child dead near his jaws:

So, tell me, why do you lick your balls?
I know. Old joke. Compulsion.
Not to tell, but to lick.
To suckle on a self.
To chew at a life, frothing.

This leg here in the trap and what the fuck?
I’m not barking here. You think I am.
It looks on playback as though I’m barking.
Garish, in and out of focus.
But I’m not barking here.

If only I could talk this language for you.
Speak what I spoke. What I’m shouting.
Smart fools everywhere. See that?
An arching hollow back, like I’m throwing up letters.

Imagine an African, 300 years ago,
tomorrow, babbling pigin,
his own perfect language,
spitting all he has, shouting:

“Let me go, let my heart go,
kill me and stop this thing, please God,
the worst of it is all true;
my wife cut to little pieces, my children,
three and five, shredded dead in a pit,
my dick, that only other friend, taken from me,
my hopes all some puppy in a happy white sack,
kill me now.”

That’s what it sounds like to me.
Not to you. To you, it’s a howling
and a need to put him down.
The old new beast.
Some blackbrown raggedydoll.
Fucked-up with sickness.
Unreliable animal. Unknowable,
let’s lock the doors and find the gun.
Boil some tar, get feathers.

Twitching, Grand Mal stuck in my throat,
skin all raised like my neck is just a hackle.
So sick with something. So sick with something.
Fade to white.


Foyle’s War

There is a matter that has only recently
become apparent to me
and in the language of the day
would be called a First World Problem admittedly:
The ability to watch or gorge
on a whole series or entire run
of a single television show
over the course of a few days
or even a few adjacent hours.

I do not like waiting
less now than ever
but watching the first of an old show
and downloading the remaining seasons
I am aware that I will see several years
of manufactured output
watch characters age and die
all in less than a week
and then quite possibly miss them.

I do not remember feeling it
but there must have been a development
week after week and year after year
8 o’clock Wednesday night
when one slowly deepened
the opinions and insight
perhaps the writers even worked
to take advantage of this very effect.

No longer. We chew ferociously
and then swallow, digest lightly
and do not even excrete
so little has the fiber of our wanting
been addressed or filled.
Fast everything.



The Honourable Schoolboy

Scruffy work
to be a spy

and a boring life
always so very careful

in your words and deeds
professionally consistent

observant to a fault
never allowed to slop along

the existence of celebrity
without the non-existent charm

grey socks and a steady heartbeat
no dozing in

to be late for school without reproach
it comforts me to consider

how fearful they must be
of talking in their sleep

weighing betrayal
above abandonment

the only boy in class
who perishes at the thought

of being blown.


In lieu of another

It’s hard to sew being so very slow.
There’s a precision required
that is rarely used in these particular days.
Did my grandmother say the same?
Probably not, for she would have practiced the skill
and not as an art form, but a practical necessity.
The saving of socks and the counting of buttonholes.
Yet in this unraveled sleeve where the cuff
has loosened itself a good three inches round
there are many stitches needed
through and back and over again
to bridge the widening gap.

It is not men alone who no longer sew
or know much of its doing.
It is one of the older active verbs
which has been replaced
by the conglomerate of buying instead.
And it’s true that I caused Mister Claus
to bring me an exact brother
to this simple hooded sweatshirt (blue)
color may vary due to unique drying process
but still, I’m not prepared or ready
to throw away this first version I fell in love with.
Loyalty and sentiment extend beyond dogs and girls.

Problems remain however with the slowness of my inefficiency.
These sutures are clumsy, leaving a ragged scar,
but in the end closure is complete and my sense of simple Zen
by these selfless moments is, if not made anew, at least repaired.