Monday, August 26, 2013


The following is not a poem, but an excerpt from a play I'm writing, my first play. It's about what it's like to be a human being and the nature of consciousness. Working title: 

A Question of Crocodiles

A full-bodied, participatory celebration of the absurdity of reality

Note to actor: It's obvious to say, but each word was chosen carefully. Try to make the leaps.

The tone: Trying to work something out. Concerned, but not urgent. Methodical, with a very soft, tender center. In an attempt to communicate the uncommunicable, a decision to speak:

I find the chaos of being alive overwhelming.

I feel that I am a swirling, ever-changing configuration of atoms, 
Barely in human form,
Barely keeping it together. 
"Try to keep your human suit on" is good advice,
Because the thin veil of 
That prevents our particles from rearranging into
Is quite delicate actually.

And I think all humans know this on an innate level.
This is the gift of consciousness, and subconsciousness.
Subconsciously, we know that
We came from nothing,
And we know that 
One day we will return.
This void terrifies us,
And it should:
It's terrifying.

What holds us together?
What is the thing that keeps us from dissolving? 

I think we all remember, somewhere in our DNA, 
What it was like to be not-alive. 
And so, the sheer overwhelmingness of
Can feel like a big responsibility.

- - - - -

My best friend knows this chaos intimately.
That's one of the reasons she's my best friend.
She's a productive, pro-active, compassionate creature who cares deeply about the world around her and is passionate about the environment and loves the people in her life, wholly and truly.
And yet, the past few months, she's fallen in and out of some deep depression.
It's been going on for years, actually, she says.
You think you're going forth, living your life, setting goals and falling in love and making plans and balancing work and love and play - 
Until you wake up in the middle of the night and realize:
"I've been so afraid, all this time. 
I've been managing, pretending to be ok, but actually
All my actions have been a coping technique for 
Mitigating the fear and chaos."
And when you wake up in the middle of the night, 
Thinking these kinds of thoughts, 
It's hard to know
Whether to wake your lover,
Or pretend you didn't have them and pretend to try to go back to sleep,
Or just lay there, 
Symbolically awake in the darkness,
And let the chaos wash over you.

It's *chaotic* to be alive. 
We desperately invent social structures like the post office
And political structures like democracy
And personal structures like careers and exercise routines
In an attempt to bring order to Space and Time.

I'm not saying you shouldn't be afraid, or that
We should give up these structures and valiant efforts to orchestrate order. 
I'm just saying - 
It's a little bit false.
I like the post office, but underneath it all:
I live with this fear.
I'm trying to name that WE live with this fear.

- - - - -

But, actually, I think 
Our reaction to the chaos of the universe is 
Totally optional and irrelevant.
I think that 
Chaos continues, whether humans think about it or not.
Particles will continue to rearrange themselves 
Long after we cease to be here to think about it.

And so - what to do with all this?
Well, as I guess you can tell,
I've been thinking about it a lot. 
And I'm not sure...but I think it's ok. 

I think it's ok.

Look at this beautiful planet.
You have to look at it!
Ok, first - think about outer space.
Close your eyes if you think it will help.
Picture those images from the science channel and National Geographic,
all of this wonderful visualization that mankind is now so familiar with.
Our Earth,
Drifting through Space, 
Zooming further and further out to galaxies and infinite stars and particles 
Floating through all kinds of things we have barely begun to understand. 
Try to mentally grasp, for just a moment,
All that we believe the rest of the universe looks like.

And then, 
Picture the rolling foothills of Vermont.
Can you hold in your mind, the swirling void of the Milky Way, 
AND the breaking waves of the Arctic?
Try to visualize the abundance of stars, next to the bus system of New York City.
The existence of black holes and also chocolate chip cookies.
Amidst the way matter floats through space and planets drift around stars that come in and out of existence, 
We experience soft summer rain, and 
So many types of music, and 
Creatures like goats and crawfish,
And the banality of lines at the grocery store, and ATMs, 
And two human beings holding hands.

This planet is incredible.
Our lives are incredible.
are so lucky
To experience relief from the chaos,
However temporary.

Even if it's fleeting, I choose to be here.
Even if it's a big responsibility -
I choose to be alive,
And I love to get angry when someone spills coffee on my shirt,
And I love to complain about traffic, 

And I love to worry about money,
And I love to kiss someone new.

For me, sleeping next to someone at night
Is the best way to gain comfort for awhile,
However temporary and fleeting.
Because at least we're in this together.
At least when we wake up terrified in the middle of the night,
Even if we can't wake the person next to us
To talk about the chaos,
Mostly because it's all too complicated to put words to,
And also, let's be honest,
It's a ridiculous reason to wake someone up.
But at least 
Someone is there.

I look over at you 
In the middle of the night,
And I feel some small comfort because
I know that even though you never talk about it,
On some level you're
Going through the same thing.

And I'm reminded that the universe put together your unique configuration of atoms 
As well as mine.
And maybe it's ok that neither of us understands.

This being-alive-thing,
is completely absurd.

But at least we're not alone.

A live rock concert, and cathartic dancing.

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Long Nights in Monasteries"
April 2013

"I've spent long nights in monasteries."
More than three years, in fact. 
I left the world, 
And became a monk, 
Because I had some things to work out. 

Now listen carefully - It's an 
So it doesn't look like you think. 
There's no physical location. 
There's no man saying what you have to do. 
There's no bullshit Order or 
Dogmatic fanfare or just 
One sacred book. 
It's not like that. 

There are no rules, but you can help make them up. 
There is a vision, but it would be nice if you brought some ideas. 
There are no official robes, but I would bring some silly outfits just in case. 

You can visit. You can even join them, 
If you want. In my experience, 
They'll let you in so deeply and 
Love you so much 
You might not be able to come back. 
So be careful what you wish for. 
Be careful of Caterpillars, and 
Careful of dogs, and 
Careful of the Mama. 
Careful, careful, meaning 
Oh so 
Filled with care. 
Because there are other people there too - 
And you're not the only one being affected by this experience. 
What you say matters. 
What you do matters. 
What you's important. 

I bet you have a lot of ideas about what an 
Could be. 
You should. 
We're counting on you. 
But remember that the people who have built it - 
Those who have already given their lives to it - 
They know too. 
They have LOTS of ideas 
And they've heard lots of ideas - 
And they know exactly what an art monastery is. 
Its so sweet, 
The way they listen to you, 
When deep in their hearts they already know
Exactly what it should feel like and sound like. 

The Art Monastery 
Tastes like tomatoes with salt, and 
Smells like coffee and garlic, and there are so many 
People and animals, and a surprising amount of 
Electronic dance music. 

The music, 
My god, the 

There is also more  
Than you could possibly handle. 
And tears, at whatever meal you want. 
Theres usually a weird collection of 
And cats and chickens around. 
There are literally endless round table discussions, about 
Anything you can imagine. 
And there's music everywhere, all the time, and 
People with new ideas, 
Who are just trying and drawing and loving and leaving all over the place. 
They're transformation hosts over there, 
Which means a LOT of crazy, wonderful people come through. 
If you stay long enough, you get to love all of them. 

So when you go - 
Make sure you bring your whole self. 
And don't hold back. 
And jump, when its time, 
No matter how scary it is. 

My god, 
You just have to 
See the sun 
Rise like that 
Over those mountains. 
And you have to BE in some of those meetings 
Where you believe you actually can change the world.
And you have to FEEL the magnitude and weight of 
Mystery - of knowing that you are part of something 
So much bigger than yourself. 
It's outside your body, 
It's not just up to your one mind - 
We're doing this thing together, 
Don't forget. 

And don't forget to feed the dogs. 
And take the car in right away when the light comes on. 
And think ahead about when we need groceries 
Because if it's Sunday or Tuesday morning or Thursday afternoon 
And we're out of beer, 
We're totally screwed. 
And don't make her go alone to the post office. 
She could, 
But it's harder that way, and 
There's no reason to go alone. 
And make sure you say yes to scrambled eggs, every time. 
Try to say yes to everything. 
To love
As much as possible

Shit, man. 
What do I know. 
Probably things have changed a little bit over there. 
Best case scenario, really. 
People go on without you. 
I find such profound relief, and
In that. 
In learning you don't have to do it all on your own. 
That's one of the things I learned at the monastery. 
In fact, 
That might be the reason I came. 
To know that. 

So, look, you'll have to figure it out in your own. 
You'll be fine. 
It's gonna be great. 

It doesn't look like you think it will. 
It didn't look like I thought it might. 
I don't know what I thought,
But in the end,
It's exactly what it's supposed to be. 

And the one thing I know for sure - 
It's the privilege of a lifetime,
To be in the Art Monastery with you. 

I'll always be...

Nowhere with you....

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Purple Mountain Majesty"
or "Dishes & Gratitude 2.0"

Fall 2012

I live by the purple mountains.
Engrossed by the majesty of 
Dead seasons and
Our lives,
I live amidst this wonder.

We love in front of an orange fire,
Having no shame for 
What the fire sees or knows.
I sit here, now, alone,
On this couch that hosts so much 
In this Space that holds so many

Our lives are written on this couch, 
And in these mountains.
I know, so many of us, 
Have secrets we share only with the valley.
I used to pour my heartache into the valley. 
Now, I pour
Wonder, and 
Awe, and


I wrote a poem, once, 
About heaps of dishes and bottomless gratitude,
And everyone thought it applied.
When I sit on my own,
The world comes to me in verse,
And I try to transmit
Things Everybody Knows.
I think I've never had an original thought,
And everybody knows that.
I try to name what we know, collectively, 
So we can put it in a bin and look at it.
And examine whether we think it's true.
This is my work.
This is my life.


This is my life.
I've never understood that.
I understand less now than ever before. 
The washing machine is going and
My heart is beating and
Twenty minutes ago a Swimming Pool was here and
We call today Tuesday.
Space and Time.

Ok, fine. These are the types of things 
You have to accept 
If you're going to keep your human being suit on. 
So I pretend to accept. 
I pretend to get it, and to incorporate, these
Things that everybody knows.
It doesn't make a bit of sense to me, but that's fine. 
You can't understand everything. 
And people pretend things all the time.

So I'll pretend for awhile longer, that I understand 
How light and color work.
I'll pretend with you that we're stuck in these bodies.
It's no problem for me to 
Pretend that electrons exist, and that 
Time is a one way street, and that the 
Bushes won't turn into crocodiles.

I do love this game. 
I love to be here with you.
I love when we all pretend together,
When we put on our important voices and
io parlo italiano and
We try to make miracles happen.
Or even better when we garb ourselves in
Orange jump suits and
Halves of mints and
Try to make an appropriate face.
I love that.

I love living with other people who 
Float in and out of the game(s) with me,
Who have somehow, over the years, 
Become perfect compliments to each other.
He will never clean the bathroom and
I will never chop firewood and
This is what I call
We make the daily transition from coffee to beer,
And live somewhere in between our 
Oh so complicated relationship to both.
Hell, babe, you bring the sparkle and I'll bring the love
And let's call it the Art Monastery Project! 

We'll fight about it and LAUGH about it and
Still we cry and still we feel pain and
Still we don't know when to stop. 

Maybe we live here with each other because 
We can't help it.
Turns out - 
We really don't know any better.
Maybe the arteries that lead to our hearts have become 
So entwined over the years that it is 
Physically painful 
To separate. 
Maybe we have to, 
Just to prove we can, and to have the 
Joy of reuniting again.

I know that when I leave this year,
Things will be different. 
Everything will change.
Everybody knows that. 

But they don't know 
How many cups of coffee 
With perfectly frothed milk 
We've had together over the years. 
No one knows why the word 
Can send half of us bursting into giggles and 
Make me run away,
Or how many times I wanted to kiss you,
Or why I relax when I see a bird.
These are the real 
Things Nobody Knows;
These are the secrets we agree to keep.

And when we go, 
The rhythm of our hearts will change. 
I imagine it will adjust, to be not quite so in sync.
I imagine that's inevitable.

But I think there's something about these 
Secrets that are kept somewhere between the
Purple mountain majesty and 
Her soft lips, and all the labbri di Labro
Somewhere between these
Stories told 'round the orange fire and 
Hidden in the winks of poems - 

There is a wonder that will not die.
There is a spell that won't be broken. 
There is a dream that we live and we keep.

And everybody knows:
Endings aren't real.

(The end.)