She came into the kitchen with the sky crumpled in her hand.
That's the sky, I said. Don't throw it away.
It's empty, she said and tossed it in the trash.
TRAFFIC AND MURDER
It gets dark, and the afternoon walks into a cafe like a tired old gunslinger walking into a saloon. The afternoon orders a pot of Italian coffee. The guy working behind the counter catches the stink of traffic and murder from the afternoon's grey clothes. It's evening, and the afternoon has nothing to say. So it says nothing, just sits at a table by the window and drinks its coffee. The moon shines on the Gothic cathedral across the street.
A DAY IN A UNIVERSE
I don't know when the first star exploded, or when the sun caught on fire. Ice on Jupiter, rain in Tennessee. In a desert city, I help a friend move. We carry boxes from the van to the house, then drink tea from bowls. All but 5 percent of the universe is dark matter. Some of us think we know the other 5 percent. None of us likes being very far from a toilet, however we identify it.
THE BUDDHA SITS IN A DOWNTOWN BAR
The Buddha sits in a downtown bar on a warm night. He's the Buddha only because everyone is the Buddha — but they don't know it and he does, so he's the Tathagata, the Arhan, the Fully-Enlightened One, while they dwell in Samsara and are angry and drink too much.
A woman comes into the bar. Every man in the room wants her, and they suffer because they don't think they can have her. The Buddha doesn't suffer; he already has her, even though he hasn't even talked to her and doesn't care if he ever does. He has everything because he clings to nothing. He wants the woman, but he enjoys the wanting and he doesn't care about the outcome. He walks outside, laughing. The moon shines on his shaved head, and his shaved head shines on the moon.
MAYBE A STRANGE THING
Maybe a strange thing —
a college town at the wrong time of year —
the students are gone but you're still around, wandering through bookshops, empty art galleries —
tired, sick of it, in a quiet cafe you lose your temper, get up and walk out, leaving yourself sitting over coffee.
MILKING THE COW
He rose before dawn, pissed in the toilet, ate in the kitchen, then went outside to the barn and milked the cow. That's all he did: he milked the cow. This action meant one thing: he was milking the cow. The milking of the cow in this case is not symbolic of anything else. It is certainly not an unsubtle sexual metaphor. He wasn't doing anything other than milking the cow. He was just milking the cow. He was out in the barn early in the morning and he was milking the fucking cow.
stainless steel table cold to touch pale skin of leg hair growing from skin
night birds, starlight, desert wind — moth wings beat against computer screen
summer evening — man in motorised wheelchair walks his poodle
the hours of contemplation — thoughts, exhausted, fall to the floor of the mind
the dog behind the fence barks at the man walking by — but his tail is wagging
winter desert city — icy sunshine melts into night
the broken wall of the old slaughterhouse can’t keep out the rain
Afternoon storm, rain thick as fog — thunder explodes, the woods tremble — in the shelter of a porch, a feral cat sleeps through it all.
The thunder stops, the storm is over — rain drips from the gutters, and a sleeping cat wakes, stretches, yawns.
A firefly gets inside the house — one swipe of a cat's paw, and it falls. It lies there on the wood floor, its light still blinking, the dark moments growing longer and longer.
Email brings bad news of a friend. The last time I saw him, we sang songs together — voices colliding, then blending. Now his voice is a lonely whisper, and I sing a song of sadness on a moonless night.
A greasy diner in a southern town, night — a man sits in a booth, reads a newspaper, drinks iced tea. A woman walks in, looks for him. His face erupts in a smile as he stands up and waves.
Rain falling on this house by the woods — the same rain that falls on the hospital where she sleeps tonight.
Full moon shines on your desert and my forest, your street and my garden.
Winter sunlight through the kitchen window — cat on the dining table raises his sleepy head, looks at me, and I laugh.
December morning. Rain. You are not here, but with every note of music and every sip of tea you are in my arms.
Day cold, apartment warm, cocooned by music and rain — purring cat rolls around on the couch and I am so happy I laugh and cry at the same time.
The wind through the forest roars like an ocean — snow blows across my porch, toppling furniture and slamming the door.
Bird feeder swinging back and forth in the wind and the snow — little bird hangs on, eating, eating, eating.
Morning after ice storm — pour hot coffee in cold cup, check that the wild birds have enough to eat, bow to the Buddha.
Two small birds building a nest on my porch — flying back and forth, working together.
The birds have mated, built nests together in the sun — do they know how quickly it passes?
Food on the plate, tea in the cup — say your thanks. Say it to the sunlight, say it to the rain.