(Lord’s day). At church in the morning, a stranger preached a good honest and painfull sermon. My wife and I dined upon a chine of beef at Sir W. Batten’s, so to church again. Then home, and put some papers in order. Then to supper at Sir W. Batten’s again, where my wife by chance fell down and hurt her knees exceedingly. So home and to bed.
Each honest pain
upon a chin? A church—
a chance hurt.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 17 March 1660/61.
A circling crow
turns into a hawk
as it clears the trees
with their bare-boned
parceling of the light. And then
those upswept wings—
primaries splayed like hands
open to the ground—
can only be vulture.
The wind plays in the accordion
branches. An icy rain pelts the road.
The seed rattles in its pod
the only mantra that it knows.
—Luisa A. Igloria
03 18 2014
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.
Early at Sir Wm. Pen’s, and there before Mr. Turner did reconcile the business of the purveyance between us two. Then to Whitehall to my Lord’s, and dined with him, and so to Whitefriars and saw “The Spanish Curate,” in which I had no great content.
So home, and was very much troubled that Will staid out late, and went to bed angry, intending not to let him come in, but by and by he comes and I did let him in, and he did tell me that he was at Guildhall helping to pay off the seamen, and cast the books late. Which since I found to be true. So to sleep, being in bed when he came.
The business of the Lord
is in a tent. I went
to bed angry, but by and by
I let him tell me all.
I am the Book I sleep in.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 16 March 1660/61.
A gray day in March
is the best time to go hunting
bright as fresh drops of blood
under the glossy wings
sharp and sweet
after all those months
of frozen burial.
he is dropping out, leaving everything behind, going out into the real world to see what it’s like there. Are you mad? screams his mother. Who do you think you are, his father yells, shaking a fist in his face— A freaking hippie from America? They go on like this for at least a few hours, pleading, cajoling, wringing their hands and pacing back and forth across the great hall of the ancestral home until their skin oils deepen the sheen of the wood floor. Henceforth, the servants will never again need polish it. The Buddha does not change his mind. One thing you must know is that he has always been like that since childhood— once he decides something, there’s usually no way to turn it around. He packs a few simple articles of clothing and a wooden bowl, the sight of which fills his mother with such dread she begins to wail. Take a pair of sandals at least, she sobs. Your feet, that never so much as walked a block of pavement in all your life! But now the stones of the world will cut open the skin of his beautiful feet, the mud and dirt change their color. He knows and yet does not know what else is coming. The new life is already walking down to the garden gate, lifting the latch, turning its face to the countryside and to the great meditation on what lies beyond.
—Luisa A. Igloria
03 17 2014
In response to Via Negativa: Harbingers.
the variety of decisions that revolve around desire:
Nutella chocolate chip with sea salt, pistachio lemon
creme, or cinnamon amaretto swirl? Where is human nature
so weak as in the ice cream section of a 24-hour grocery store?
And really, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg,
only one layer of this rainbow-shingled world shiny with neon
and digital contraptions, sprinkled with add-ons. He is tempted
to pack up his new digs in the city and tell his young family
that they’re moving to the country, to an island in Micronesia,
somewhere they can hang laundry to dry on the line, collect rain
water in barrels, plant their own tomatoes, squash, and bitter
melons, send the kids to school and watch them walk down
the dirt path in flip-flops without worrying about
their safety— But he’s promised his wife he’ll try
to find a way to live in the jangly heart of the metro,
practice what he’s always talking about in coffee shops:
simplification and letting go, right where it is. And right
where it is is right here, right now: in many ways, it is
the biggest challenge to The Noble Eightfold Path, which all
the teachings describe as “the most straightforward approach”
to human life and suffering, except that the latter are anything
but straightforward. As for instance, even in this small
frozen section of the universe, where desire after desire
jostles for his attention and his wallet— blackberry cobbler,
peaches and cream, orange creamsicle, black walnut crunch—
he knows the impossibility of satisfaction, the reverie
that purchase promises but cannot in the end provide.
At the office all the morning. At noon Sir Williams both and I at a great fish dinner at the Dolphin, given us by two tar merchants, and very merry we were till night, and so home. This day my wife and Pall went to see my Lady Kingston, her brother’s lady.
At the office, I am
a fish in the dolphin.
Tar me and err.
Night is my wife, a pall my king.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 15 March 1660/61.
the concept and effects of “Catastrophizing”
using references to Chicken Little, Pooh
Bear, Wile E. Coyote, and The Roadrunner.
He understands everything perfectly in his mind,
having had many occasions to dispense similar advice
to others through the years. Nonetheless he is charmed
by this new cast of colorful characters and how they
play out one worst case scenario after another—
There is a crack in the ceiling of heaven! The sky
is falling! There is a raincloud growing larger above
my head! He likes when the therapist explains
that the honey-colored bear with the ample belly
resembling his in some art works, is our baseline condition:
at rest, without stress, comfortable and at ease in the wood
of the world. But the agitated chicken, the wound-up coyote
and the perennially ruffled bird are ready
not only to leap on the first train of worry, but also
to ride the same crooked track that has gouged itself
so deep into the landscape it has no other
destination but down. Just stay on the platform,
says the therapist whose first name in Welsh
means pure-hearted: Not so fast. Let’s make a list
of why your world right now is not about to end.
to look for a licensed counselor and therapist
and finds a practice in a street next to
the drugstore where he fills his prescriptions.
From among the photos on the website, he decides
on the one who looks the kindest: a woman with chestnut
hair and an old-fashioned first name. She’s not really
smiling in the photograph but her eyes are. He picks up
the phone and makes an appointment for Tuesday after next.
What? You don’t think this is a plausible story? You think
the Buddha has no need to work out issues, or even that
he has any issues? This is partly the problem— all
the press he’s ever gotten has him just about perfected.
Every brass likeness and stone statue, from museum gallery
to the home improvement section of Lowe’s or Home Depot,
depicts him in nothing but an attitude of pure serenity
even if next to him there is an entire box of manic-
looking garden gnomes— Thumb lightly touching index
finger in the Gyan Mudra, eyes two perfect almonds
resting on the calm lake of his face, who would think
he has any need to unburden himself and his domestic woes
to another? It’s not easy to think of the ideal as less
than ideal, of the one who serves as poster child
having the same capacity for hurt and need that we all do.
So then, whatever you believe, be gentle with the ones
who’ve listened through the years and asked how they
could take away some of your suffering, the ones
who sat you down and showed you how to breathe in
then exhale slowly, one nostril at a time; the ones
who patiently collected your tears in bottles smaller
than your little finger and showed you how they
could turn into something else if you laid them
lovingly on the sill and gave them a chance to dry.
—Luisa A. Igloria
03 16 2014
In response to Via Negativa: Salt.