Monday, June 29, 2009


3 days, no smoking. Quit, cold turkey. I think this is the only way to quit smoking. Especially if you've kicked the habit before, but like an idiot, took it up again. Why did I start smoking again? I was visiting San Jose, on business, and I thought I could have one or two cigarettes. I had not smoked in about 2-3 years. When I had that first puff, it was like I had never quit.

But later, smoking isn't so fun. I was coughing so hard in the morning, sometimes I'd get dry heaves, as my body tried to get the gunk out of my lungs. And it became expensive, at $8.75 a pack. You consider your mortality, too. Do I want to be dead by about the age of 52? For me, that will be 10 years from now. Do you want to slowly, gradually, suffocate to death, have to lug an oxygen canister around? No, I want to be around for a long time. For my kids, for me, for everybody.

I started smoking because it was a lazy, harmless thing to do. I was surrounded by smokers, we were all young, it didn't mean much (at the time) to smoke, or not to smoke. Nobody was seriously addicted to anything, we were high on life. Later, we were not so enthralled with life, but we had our addictions. This conversion is more common, and widespread, than you think.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson is Dead.

Michael Jackson is dead. He was 50 years old. For some reason, I am shocked by the news. I assumed Michael Jackson would always be around -- live to be 100, his face looking odder and odder with the never ending surgery. Robbed of a childhood -- but always, in his heart -- a boy who never grew up...he was an explosive mix of talent, time, and place. Fame and fortune was a God to him, and a Devil. Myself, I was never a huge fan of his, but in the 1980s you couldn't get away from him, Michael Jackson was everywhere...everywhere. How do you get to be that famous, that affluent, and not begin to crack? Go anywhere, do anything, whatever you want, people all saying "Yes" and holding the door open for you. And when did the nightmare begin? Or was it a nightmare, for Michael, all along?


I go out to Maywood, two towns down the road, to pay a bill. While I'm driving, I have parts of Michael Jackson songs, like a musical collage, playing in my brain -- it is a bit irritating. The fabulous dancing he did in the 1980s looks a bit silly, now. They way he'd grab his crotch while doing short pelvic thrusts, wearing one white glove, the white socks, fedora, all of it.

I can't get Michael Jackson out of my head, because millions of people are thinking about him, right now. He took us on a long, strange trip. He was emulated, admired, idolized, mocked, ridiculed -- he reached his zenith, we watched him spiral down, now he's gone.


When I get home, I read about Michael Jackson. Article after article. The whole world has something to say. One writer postulated Michael Jackson died of a broken heart, because Michael wanted to be loved so much, that it was impossible to satisfy this need to be loved.

Everybody gets their heart broken. It is guaranteed, just like death, that your heart will get completely broken. A rabbi said, to know how to love, and really love -- your heart has to be broken, first. Totally shattered. Then we figure out how to go on, and not give up on love, and hopefully we've learned to give a bit more, when it comes to love.

It could be that Michael Jackson died, because he didn't know how to give -- he could "give" being up on the stage, but when that part of his life ended, he couldn't figure out how to really connect with people.

But I don't think we'll ever know the whole story. I do know it is easy to get lost, it is easy to lose yourself -- and once you've lost yourself, it is hard to rediscover what that "You", was. Fame, fortune, and admirers only complicate things.

Take care, Michael, wherever you are.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Air Conditioner

Yesterday was bloody hot, and humid, making it hard to think clearly. I get an air conditioning unit, and I find out a few things, all of which are not surprising: 1. The air conditioning unit is heavy, and awkward to move. 2. The instructions are vague on just how far you have to position the unit out the window, which is scary, because when it is properly positioned, it feels like it will simply fall out the window. 3. The unit will fall out the window if the lower window sash is moved out of position -- this didn't happen to me, but I can't believe they designed a product like this...inherently ready to fall out your window. 4. I'm going to need at least 2 more air conditioning units for the rest of the flat. 5. When I get the other units, I'm going to have to move the first air conditioner into the office. 6. That move will be awkward and unpleasant. 7. Cool air feels nice.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Cannot Help But Watch & Admire

"All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds." -- Richard Brautigan

Today, I cannot help but watch & admire the fluffy clouds/ Richard Brautigans as they glide through the sky. I see one Richard Brautigan is clearly drunk, heading the wrong way, with its pants sagging and big hat askew, dreamily going against the procession. The other Richard Brautigans flow on, flow on. I imagine rain/ iDEATH will be falling later in the day, by 3 o'clock, most likely.

I Listened to the Band

I listened to the band. They had a decent turnout, even though it was raining. The band played this interesting mixture of country, blues, rock, integrated with 1970s guitar ballads. The lead guitarist made funny faces when he did his solos, but he could play that guitar, yes he could. Every woman in the joint was with her boyfriend or husband -- and the mix was all about 20 years older than myself. They'd all sort hold onto each other, casually, contentedly -- reminiscing about the days of old, I suppose. This fusion country, blues, rock, 1970s guitar ballad band was a mirror, through the sound and action, the audience swayed contentedly along, and cheered at the end of each song with appropriate gusto.

Poem - all night long in your head

it is not so much that
the beautiful girl does not
arrive, but the concept of
her arriving or not arriving
persisting* -- almost like a
horrible country-western
song played over and over
all night long in your head


* This is reminiscent of Vedic thinking, or proto-Hindu philosophizing, going back to the 8th century, BCE, minus the country-western analogy

Chung Tzu says "Now you're talking, brother!"

"I have to wash the dishes. I have too many dirty dishes, in the sink." I say this on a Saturday morning.

"Yeah? What else could you be doing?" asks Chung Tzu, his feet resting on the table.

"I could take a crap."

"Well, that is something to do." says Chung Tzu. He picks up the newspaper, and starts reading the obituaries.

"I should go outside and get a nice tan on my legs. So my legs look good for any special moment that might arise."

Chung Tzu throws down the paper and jumps up. "Now you're talking, brother! That's it!"


Later, when we are outside, in the backyard, getting tan, Chung Tzu and I look up.

"Wow! Look at that cloud!" yells Chung Tzu.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Me and Chung Tzu

"Sometimes, when someone asks me a question, I go MOOO, like a cow. Because I figure if mooing is good enough for a cow, it should be good enough for me."

"I see." says Chung Tzu.

"Other times, when someone wants to ask me a question, I go HONK, like a goose. Because if honking is good enough for geese, it should be good enough for me."

"Indeed." says Chung Tzu, dryly.

"But lately, when someone asks me a question, I've been being silent."

"Why so?"

"Because I'm not a cow, a goose, or even a person. There's nothing here to make noise."

Chung Tzu and I pause. We listen to the wind blow.

"Well, that's great...but why did you have to ruin it, by talking?"

you're not going to change...this isn't going to make you happy

you're not going to change
(read that line again)

this isn't going to make you happy
(read that line again)

but if you're willing to look
with authenticity
at how you think and
how you behave
then there is the possibility
that you may choose
to think and act
in a completely different

that's all there is

to do it or not do it
be aware or not

clarity is within you
like it is within me
it can't be given
or taken away
you always had it

have the courage
and the persistence
to take a good look &
keep on looking
until there's nothing
really, to look


I'm listening

Chung Tzu says "HA!"

Whenever there are big changes in my life, it rains. Especially if I have to move, or do anything important. And when it rains, on these key occasions, it really rains. A full, hard, constant downpour -- with no letting up, or end in sight.

Today, is one of those days. Nothing can be done about it. I get ready to go out and conduct my business. It begins to rain even harder.

"I suppose if I imagine the raindrops falling through me, I won't get wet." I say.

"HA!!!" says Chung Tzu.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

(no title)

not seeing you
is real

a dark day of rain

typing this

why take a position
on it?

real is

that is all
it is

what more do
you expect?




you don't


Things I Found Out Today

-- Donkeys kill more people annually, than plane crashes.

-- Vincent Van Gogh sold 1 painting, in his lifetime.

-- Charlie Chaplin won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-a-like contest.

-- There is a 1 in 4 chance New York will have a white Christmas.

-- China has more English speakers, than the United States.

-- You share your birthday with at least 9 million people around the World.

-- Two-thirds of the World's eggplant, is grown in New Jersey.

Headline Asks

Headline asks,
"Who is Flying Your Plane?"

I think,
"A Pilot?"

Chicago Tribune
Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Zen Koans:

"Who is Flying Your Plane?"

"What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?"

Monday, June 08, 2009


The oven is off. The chicken pot pies are cooling on the stove. Daniel is ready to go to sleep after a bath. He is full.

It is almost dark, the outward world is blue, and it starts to rain. Most of the windows are open, to let the sound and the breeze in.

Stray bird calls. A car goes up the street. Pause. I straighten my shoulders, it is a reflex.

horrible curse/ great blessing

this stands up
here falls down


horrible curse
great blessing

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Rooster Song

Here is a stupid song we used to sing at Camp St. Michael, up in Mendocino County, California -- near Leggett. I was a counselor there for many years as a youth, for 6 weeks out of every summer, from my teens to my mid 20s.

The Rooster Song

We had some hens, no eggs would they lay,
We had some hens, no eggs would they lay.
My spouse said, "Honey, this isn't funny.
We're loosing money."

But one day a rooster came into our yard,
He caught those hens, right off of their guard.
They're laying eggs now, more than you can see,
Ever since that rooster came into our yard.

We had a cow, no milk would she give, [Repeat.]
My spouse said, "Honey, this isn't funny.
We're loosing money."

But one day that rooster came into our yard,
He caught the milk cow, right off of her guard.
She giving eggnog, more than you can see,
Ever since that rooster came into our yard.

We had a gum tree, that had no gum, [Repeat.]
My spouse said, "Honey, this isn't funny.
We're loosing money."

But one day that rooster came into our yard,
He caught that gum tree, right off of her guard.
She giving CHICLETS, more than you can see,
Ever since that rooster came into our yard!

our relationship/ in retrospect

our relationship
in retrospect

was sorta like
building a boat

sailing ourselves
to Hell Island

we almost
got there

but the ship
couldn't take it

today it is raining/ i have not seen you in a week

for daniel

the last time i was at the house
probably the final time
i watched you sleep in your crib
with those blankets that have trucks on them
you were laying on your side
one arm crossed over the other
the freer hand, you twitched your fingers
dreaming about racing cars and
scrolling the computer mouse
(i could tell what you were dreaming about
i know you that well)
you had a beautiful dream smile
it was sweet to see and it lasted
a long time

i left
you kept dreaming
i imagine there were more smiles

today it is raining
i have not seen you in a week

Thursday, June 04, 2009


love is a factory
i dwell on this point

love is a machine
if you're lucky it keeps on ticking

love doesn't mean anything

love isn't a bomb or a baby
or a moon or a sun

written with optimism
oak park, il

you can't get away from it

you are not you
i am not me

struggle or be
strive or rest

you can't get away
from it

isn't even there
never was

many people
try to escape

the invisible prison
of the mind

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


you are horrible to me
but you look absolutely fucking

which is the way it turns out

out all night dancing

out all night dancing
i come by to drop the kids off
by 2 pm the next day but baby, you're broken
sleeping until 5
while you dream i look in the
living room, the empty fireplace
scattered with dozens of half
smoked cigarettes
stereo in the background played
simon & garfunkel at about 4 am
after you staggered in