lines written on a capital from the Temple of Artemis at Sardis

i lay atop the capital,
body on slab of stone,
a sacrificial animal
to some deity unknown.

she shone her light upon me,
with neither smile nor reproach;
shivers traveled down my spine
with each syllable she spoke:

“ever waxing, ever waning – just like the moon –
be at peace with life singing in and out of tune.”

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shitty roller disco

yesterday i stepped in dog shit.

i realize this isn’t the most uncommon experience in the world. and being a San Francisco resident, i should have appreciated that it was shit of the canine variety, at least, as opposed to human.

that said, there’s another important detail: i was barefoot.

with a 3000-mile walk ahead, most sensible people would interpret this unfortunate incident as an omen. “you stepped barefoot into dog shit right before a big walk you have planned? maybe you should reconsider.”

but no, that’s not an option. while i was obviously fucking disgusted in the moment–and even spent a few moments frozen in social terror, praying that my spirit would evacuate its (now shit-caked) shell of a body and rocket to another dimension–i’m still here and doing fine.

there’s something cosmically humbling about stepping in a pile of mush that’s coursed its way through a dog’s intestinal tract. you can think you’re on top of the world–charming enough to snag a beautiful brilliant girlfriend, rhythmic enough to spin soulful vinyl at a deep desert party, clever enough to kick ass at a nerdy board game, and brave enough to quit your 9-5 to be a full-time bum–but step in a little poo, and you remember how precarious it all really is.

a few minutes later, i sat on a ledge and scrubbed my feet down with an ice cube and napkins. that’s all i had. and it felt good. cleaning your feet can be one of the most rewarding, meditative exercises. cleaning turns to scrubbing turns to rubbing turns to full on massaging. no wonder Jesus’ friends loved him so much.

and christ! what a joy to even have feet! and legs! and limbs! and life! maybe it’s worth stepping in dog shit every once in awhile just to regain appreciation for the things we take for granted every day. we assume we can walk anywhere we want. we assume we can take care of ourselves. we assume we’re all little special deities walking on water. and then–squish!

in any case, the walk is still on. hopefully my eyes will be open.

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069

(null)

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insomnia, therefore

there is an altar of sound in the Mojave Desert. it purrs painless, perfect—a midnight beacon beckoning.

attracted to its deep hum and bright lights, interplanetary pilgrims grapple their slow, shadowy way, seeking rhythm, love, divinity, nothing.

once they arrive, a juicy orange slice of moon rises to say hello, goodbye. antsy tongues wag in bags of mint, lapping up refreshingly ancient secrets. hips shake excitedly at their discovery, souls swing in arcing exultation.

in the morning, a half-naked hell of a hot mess stumbles thru center camp in a gazeless daze, meandering through people and sound and sand. half-shaved head to dusty little holes to rocky, glassy, torn-up toes, every cell in her body exuding madness. (love her.)

in the afternoon, a wavy pink pinstripe pussycat slinks from shade to shade hydrating himself with poetry. (praise him.)

at night, a brush with the grim reaper. (love her, praise him.)

day by day, the burning circle in the sky climbs higher, higher, higher, then dips down, down, down. hour by hour, a hundred billion white specks of plankton blindly drift the same mesmerizing path. minute to minute, morphing white specters glide, collide, unravel beneath the big blue canvas, unminded. moment to moment, men and women collectively recite their little disco mantra: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4…

amid gunshots, fireworks, and constellations, confectionary gusts of earthy apes do their thing.

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Emily Dickinson favorites (501-700)

501

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond –
Invisible, as Music –
But positive, as Sound –
It beckons, and it baffles –
Philosophy – don’t know –
And through a Riddle, at the last –
Sagacity, must go –
To guess it, puzzles scholars –
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown –
Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies –
Blushes, if any see –
Plucks at a twig of Evidence –
And asks a Vane, the way –
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit –
Strong Hallelujahs roll –
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul.

505

I would not paint – a picture –
I’d rather be the One
Its bright impossibility
To dwell – delicious – on –
And wonder how the fingers feel
Whose rare – celestial – stir –
Evokes so sweet a Torment –
Such sumptuous – Despair –

I would not talk, like Cornets –
I’d rather be the One
Raised softly to the Ceilings –
And out, and easy on –
Through Villages of Ether –
Myself endued Balloon
By but a lip of Metal –
The pier to my Pontoon –

Nor would I be a Poet –
It’s finer – own the Ear –
Enamored – impotent – content –
The License to revere,
A privilege so awful
What would the Dower be,
Had I the Art to stun myself
With Bolts of Melody!

516

Beauty – be not caused – It Is –
Chase it, and it ceases –
Chase it not, and it abides –

Overtake the Creases

In the Meadow – when the Wind
Runs his fingers thro’ it –
Deity will see to it
That You never do it –

524

Departed – to the Judgment –
A Mighty Afternoon –
Great Clouds – like Ushers – leaning –
Creation – looking on –

The Flesh – Surrendered – Cancelled –
The Bodiless – begun –
Two Worlds – like Audiences – disperse –
And leave the Soul – alone –

528

Mine – by the Right of the White Election!
Mine – by the Royal Seal!
Mine – by the Sign in the Scarlet prison –
Bars – cannot conceal!

Mine – here – in Vision – and in Veto!
Mine – by the Grave’s Repeal –
Titled – Confirmed –
Delirious Charter!
Mine – long as Ages steal!

536

The Heart asks Pleasure – first –
And then – Excuse from Pain –
And then – those little Anodynes
That deaden suffering –

And then – to go to sleep –
And then – if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor
The privilege to die –

543

I fear a Man of frugal Speech –
I fear a Silent Man –
Haranguer – I can overtake –
Or Babbler – entertain –

But He who weigheth – While the Rest –
Expend their furthest pound –
Of this Man – I am wary –
I fear that He is Grand –

552

An ignorance a Sunset
Confer upon the Eye –
Of Territory – Color –
Circumference – Decay –

Its Amber Revelation
Exhilarate – Debase –
Omnipotence’ inspection
Of Our inferior face –

And when the solemn features
Confirm – in Victory –
We start – as if detected
In Immortality –

565

One Anguish – in a Crowd –
A Minor thing – it sounds –
And yet, unto the single Doe
Attempted of the Hounds

‘Tis Terror as consummate
As Legions of Alarm
Did leap, full flanked, upon the Host –
‘Tis Units – make the Swarm –

A Small Leech – on the Vitals –
The sliver, in the Lung –
The Bung out – of an Artery –
Are scarce accounted – Harms –

Yet mighty – by relation
To that Repealless thing –
A Being – impotent to end –
When once it has begun –

568

We learned the Whole of Love –
The Alphabet – the Words –
A Chapter – then the mighty Book –
Then – Revelation closed –

But in Each Other’s eyes
An Ignorance beheld –
Diviner than the Childhood’s –
And each to each, a Child –

Attempted to expound
What neither – understood –
Alas, that Wisdom is so large –
And Truth – so manifold!

572

Delight – becomes pictorial –
When viewed through Pain –
More fair – because impossible
That any gain –

The Mountain – at a given distance –
In Amber – lies –
Approached – the Amber flits – a little –
And That’s – the Skies –

583

A Toad, can die of Light –
Death is the Common Right
Of Toads and Men –
Of Earl and Midge
The privilege –
Why swagger, then?
The Gnat’s supremacy is large as Thine –

Life – is a different Thing –
So measure Wine –
Naked of Flask – Naked of Cask –
Bare Rhine –
Which Ruby’s mine?

599

There is a pain – so utter –
It swallows substance up –
Then covers the Abyss with Trance –
So Memory can step
Around – across – upon it –
As one within a Swoon –
Goes safely – where an open eye –
Would drop Him – Boney by Bone.

602

Of Brussels – it was not –
Of Kidderminster? Nay –
The Winds did buy it of the Woods –
They – sold it unto me

It was a gentle price –
The poorest – could afford –
It was within the frugal purse
Of Beggar – or of Bird –

Of small and spicy Yards –
In hue – a mellow Dun –
Of Sunshine – and of Sere – Composed –
But, principally – of Sun –

The Wind – unrolled it fast –
And spread it on the Ground –
Upholsterer of the Pines – is He –
Upholsterer – of the Pond –

605

The Spider holds a Silver Ball
In unperceived Hands –
And dancing softly to Himself
His Yarn of Pearl – unwinds –

He plies from Nought to Nought –
In unsubstantial Trade –
Supplants our Tapestries with His –
In half the period –

An Hour to rear supreme
His Continents of Light –
Then dangle from the Housewife’s Broom –
His Boundaries – forgot –

608

Afraid! Of whom am I afraid?
Not Death – for who is He?
The Porter of my Father’s Lodge
As much abasheth me!

Of Life? ‘Twere odd I fear [a] thing
That comprehendeth me
In or two existences –
As Deity decree –

Of Resurrection? Is the East
Afraid to trust the Morn
With her fastidious forehead?
As soon impeach my Crown!

624

Forever – is composed of Nows –
‘Tis not a different time –
Except for Infiniteness –
And Latitude of Home –

From this – experienced Here –
Remove the Dates – to These –
Let Months dissolve in further Months –
And Years – exhale in Years –

Without Debate – or Pause –
Or Celebrated Days –
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Domini’s –

642

Me from Myself – to banish –
Had I Art –
Impregnable my Fortress
Unto All Heart –

But since Myself – assault Me –
How have I peace
Except by subjugating
Consciousness?

And since We’re mutual Monarch
How this be
Except by Abdication –
Me – of Me?

644

You left me – Sire – two Legacies –
A Legacy of Love
A Heavenly Father would suffice
Had He the offer of –

You left me Boundaries of Pain –
Capacious as the Sea –
Between Eternity and Time –
Your Consciousness – and Me –

656

The name – of it – is “Autumn” –
The hue – of it – is Blood –
An Artery – upon the Hill –
A Vein – along the Road –

Great Globules – in the Alleys –
And Oh, the Shower of Stain –
When Winds – upset the Basin –
And spill the Scarlet Rain –

It sprinkles Bonnets – far below –
It gathers ruddy Pools –
Then – eddies like a Rose – away –
Upon Vermilion Wheels –

657

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of Eye –
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

659

That first Day, when you praised Me, Sweet,
And said that I was strong –
And could be mighty, if I liked –
That Day – the Days among –

Glows Central – like a Jewel
Between Diverging Golds –
The Minor One – that gleamed behind –
And Vaster – of the World’s.

664

Of all the Souls that stand create –
I have elected – One –
When Sense from Spirit – files away –
And Subterfuge – is done –
When that which is – and that which was –
Apart – intrinsic – stand –
And this brief Drama in the flesh –
Is shifted – like a Sand –
When Figures show their royal Front –
And Mists – are carved away,
Behold the Atom – I preferred –
To all the lists of Clay!

668

“Nature” is what we see –
The Hill – the Afternoon –
Squirrel – Eclipse – the Bumble bee –
Nay – Nature is Heaven –
Nature is what we hear –
The Bobolink – the Sea –
Thunder – the Cricket –
Nay – Nature is Harmony –
Nature is what we know –
Yet have no art to say –
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

670

One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted –
One need not be a House –
The Brain has Corridors – surpassing
Material Place –

Far safer, of a Midnight Meeting
External Ghost
Than its interior Confronting –
That Cooler Host.

Far safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stones a’chase –
Than Unarmed, one’s a’self encounter –
In lonesome Place –

Ourself behind ourself, concealed –
Should startle most –
Assassin hid in our Apartment
Be Horror’s least.

The Body – borrows a Revolver –
He bolts the Door –
O’erlooking a superior spectre –
Or More –

674

The Soul that hath a Guest
Doth seldom go abroad –
Diviner Crowd at Home –
Obliterate the need –

And Courtesy forbid
A Host’s departure when
Upon Himself be visiting
The Emperor of Men –

677

To be alive – is Power –
Existence – in itself –
Without a further function –
Omnipotence – Enough –

To be alive – and Will!
‘Tis able as a God –
The Maker – of Ourselves – be what –
Such being Finitude!

682

‘Twould ease – a Butterfly –
Elate – a Bee –
Thou’rt neither –
Neither – thy capacity –

But, Blossom, were I,
I would rather be
Thy moment
Than a Bee’s Eternity –

Content of fading
Is enough for me –
Fade I unto Divinity –

And Dying – Lifetime –
Ample as the Eye –
Her least attention raise on me –

691

Would you like summer? Taste of ours.
Spices? Buy here!
Ill! We have berries, for the parching!
Weary! Furloughs of down!
Perplexed! Estates of violet trouble ne’er looked on!
Captive! We bring reprieve of roses!
Fainting! Flasks of air!
Even for Death, a fairy medicine.
But, which is it, sir?

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half of what i say is meaningless

three more days of work. less than three weeks until New York.

then: more than half a year of walking.

now? every moment a melding of dream and reality.

my lover lies at my side sleeping. i am in her bed, our bed… in her house, my house. we are not married nor engaged, and yet i have never felt such strong conviction in my love. if possible, it is deeper or more all-encompassing than conviction. it is decision, resolution, revelation.

the past few days, i have been moving so many boxes. boxes of records, boxes of clothes, boxes of bullshit. so many goddamn boxes. the modern age is all about acquiring things and putting them in boxes. in fact, we adore boxes so much that we live in boxes ourselves. and yet we wonder why cats care so much about boxes.

after leaving the office today, i boarded a railbound box headed downtown and immediately recognized a pretty little lady sitting near the window. she smiled at me and i smiled back almost laughing, wondering whether she would come over for a chat.

“Julia?”

“wow, you remember my name.”

“ronny.”

“oh man i was gonna say ‘ron!’”

this simple dialogue is a big deal for me. i can remember names. Julia’s a girl from Ohio who’d recently moved to San Francisco. i learned this when, a couple months ago, i caught her eyeing me on the same muni train after work. when i asked what was up, she confessed her admiration for my reading Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” almost word-for-word in the way that other girl once talked to me on muni about my reading Einstein. in any case, Julia and i talked about a bunch of things that first time, including how i should listen to Lauren O’Connell and read Aldo Leopold’s “Sand County Almanac.”

in today’s encounter, things went even deeper. in less than ten minutes, we went from Emily Dickinson poetry (because of the book in my hand) to feminism. we talked about how women in business try to speak in lower voices so men take them seriously and we talked about why guys don’t wear dresses. and we talked about how those things ultimately represent the next great hurdle in gender equality. so far gender equality has been about bringing women to the same level as men… but… what if that’s incredibly short-sighted? what if true equality requires a complete rethinking and restructuring of the way the world functions, from business to culture to art? perhaps we shall never know harmony until we understand and appreciate the beauty in both femininity and masculinity and how to entwine the two, instead of just focusing on granting masculine powers to feminine beings.

Julia wrote her mailing address on a post-it note so i could send her postcards from the walk. i predict she will be a beautiful, wondrous friend for the future. i hope!

last night, four whole nights after discussing the nature of lucid dreams w friends, i traversed a vivid dream world. the beginning, or what i recall as the beginning, took on the tone of a gory bloodbath from a Blizzard game. except i, sword in hand, experienced the grotesque, poisonous attacks of mutalisks in the first-person. what seemed like an era later, i found myself at the very same site of that battle as it appeared at a later, more peaceful date. it was now a mansion surrounded on all sides by walls of junk. i wandered among the dusty corridors a warrior still, and attempted to scale the junkyard with a trusted German Shepherd at my side (who in the dream i called Kaiser though he looked more American than my dad’s dog).

in the morning, i awoke to birds chirping “Goodbye Blue Sky” from their digital prison in my smartphone.

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a new addition to the u-shaped universe

though i may not be the first to ever postulate a u-shaped universe, i just might be one of the first to do so with such limited understanding of basic math and physics. which is great!

i first wrote about it in the first month of 2012, and then again in the second. then i let it alone for a couple years until discussing it w my far brighter counterpart, Micah, on the dark and labyrinthine drive into Tasty Noodles Halloween 2014.

he latched onto the idea immediately, and with great candor encouraged me to pursue the idea whether in armchair philosophizing or, better yet, writing. so here we are with a new addition to my stoned theory of the u-shaped universe.

though i can’t precisely pin down who it was–i think either Adam or Rex–i had found myself discussing methods of meditation with a dear friend. the friend was someone who i loved and trusted because they saw the world through similar eyes–with love-colored lenses, peace purple prisms, exultations of joy in every eyelash-whipping blink. this person told me that when they meditate they aim to be thoughtful.

“but isn’t the point of meditating to reach a point of thoughtlessness?” i asked.

“Buddhists define ‘nirvana’ as the extinction of the ‘three fires,’” they replied, “passion, aversion, and ignorance. i don’t see any way of extinguishing those three natural human poisons without first being thoughtful.”

“that’s true. and yet, now that i think about it, if you do that you will have reached a point of thoughtlessness–not in the sense of thoughtlessly forgetting your sister’s birthday but rather in the sense of expressing care, acceptance and wisdom without thinking twice.”

“exactly. hence, thoughtfulness to the point of thoughtlessness.”

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favorite singles of 2014

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Rota Fortunae

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Ἄρτεμις Ἀγροτέρα

ice cold. i knew that look. her beautiful orbs of eyes now looked peaceful only when they were looking away. i couldn’t stand it. when i reached out to touch her hand, she didn’t recoil; why did i expect her to? i asked her what was wrong. i asked her what i could do. i asked her what i could change. still, she just stared into the distance, into another world. what had happened? down which hallways had our laughter been chased? over which wall had our joy been hurled? under which soil had our love been buried? up into which black hole had our peace been extinguished? my heart trembled and choked and cried, and i might’ve died.

but when i awoke, i found myself gazing into the bright white moonlit eyes of Artemis.

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