i loved a man who was already on his way across, once.
his name was Tim Scotchler. This poem wrote itself, to some degree, during the time he was passing,
i miss him, but mostly – I’m grateful.
[excerpts from: me i love a god…]
I. Oh in this state of passing
such an in-between,
feeling rather everything repeating
itself in cycles. Not the same wave crashing
but the harmonic conversation of shore and sea,
each leaving the other with spray.
What you watch for at the tide line are the flecks
of liquid caught up with light.
In the long view the eye goes out
to the subtle patterns that wind and geology
lend to the surface of the ocean.
From above and below light sifts motion
into lines the eye can follow,
the bench of land catches the ocean at its eyebrows,
filling in the edges.
And the passing of people?
To meet a man on shore, his pants rolled up
Standing ankle deep in the sea, there is at first
a brightness in the eyes, the way the sun
shines up his back, the ease of his feet,
just glimmed by the water,
steady. The actual
fact of him, simple,
To meet a man
like that and know hard
how soon he will step deeper into that water
that’s the grace of it.
And grace is terrible in its making [gritty, sticky, wet, loud, salty]
Everything moments where the sky gets in
and things go upside down.
Instead of shore or sea you find
You are the sifted bits, tossed up in spray
and consumed in the movement,
acting upon a truth of heart unbidden,
that unfolds and crashes against another heart
another story. How many times
was the truth not so terrible as I’d feared?
The glory of it
[He seemed God-close,
his skin filled out with it and his eyes.
I felt it between us as possibility:
to reach together that state of joy.]
Saturn, the young god, spiraling through us every 29 years.
There were all sorts of ways this could go.
[I was banking on the transformation at first: the Lion rising
and ripening in your chest. The good work of lifting and
building and cooking and composting and raising children
to plant seeds and sing songs.
This is where the tears come from. A dream of you I built out of scraps
from the past and glimpses of your heart and a clear sight of what you hoped for yourself. But this is not my tragedy, not my dream. I saw your possibilities and saw the obstacles too.]
Discerning the truth out of the obstacles, like separating
the grit out of a wave, or eyeing the place where
blue turns to white, the wave into foam –
it is always happening: wild hopes, grave disappointments
the love that threads through all of it. Forgiveness.
[He was already in the water.
It was hard to forget for very long.]
Except for the honeymoon weeks after Beltane,
set down in the morning glory cottage on J street,
by bicycle – home in the dark down the old village
trail, tea breaks on the hay bales in the backyard,
picking pie cherries for pancakes, Sunday brunch.
The gestation from that Beltane Outback gathering of clans:
after the feasting & singing & drumming,
we pulled blankets up into the tree house
and made ourselves a nest. King and queen by candlelight
we told old stories, the lineage of our hearts.
I saw the fire flare in his eyes, the maypole
braided by our dancing, the laughter of families,
the land around us in bloom.
And what I felt in his arms later,
the steady god in him.
Sweet soft critical man, such comfort and confusion;
in the water. 9 months –
enough time to be born.
The pagan god climbs from the womb of this death
and spreads his angelic wings. He soars from this story
in a great display of light and animal grace.
No ego can contain him. The self must be willing to die
for the spirit to fill its space.
The pagan god; who sees and loves life most of all, more than
Man in particular, as the Christ god loves souls,
tired of this time and context, sick at heart over this
world, and determined once, to change it
then released from such obligation
by the fallibility of his own form.
A relief, I think.
To contemplate wings and wind, a great dispersal,
to rise again in a tree’s span of time
or to become one bug after another
[a butterfly, I asked him for, one afternoon – to meet me in a field]
giving up on the world must be strange freedom.
[all consciousness confined through one skewed perspective –
it comes out wrong. It has to.]
Enough with interminable misunderstandings
and the helplessness of small.
This suffering is a heart engaged
in loving god through the creatures in the world
this is how a heart breaks open its container
and its light begins to stream out
loving in its majesty and its pain does this
softening work on the ligaments
there is no perfection here, but grace abounds.
The heart prepares
for each new opening, by giving itself in
to the pain, relaxing into it until
the sensation shifts from contraction
to expansion, riding the edges.
Something born in us when the heart opens
borne to fruition through practice.
the pair of us
spinning each other backwards
in a waltz across the bridge
hollering at the hollerers
dancing in the boat galley
I will let them rise
To some lighter fate
[the work we had to do
was heavier than that]
those two are free
fierce and delighted
and full of that
energy of curiosity.
Let them continue
spinning & hollering
and making beautiful
Their dance will feed us
both: me down here on this
bridge in another rainy spring
Sunday morning and
except in the memory
[the day we learned
how to hold each other’s hands
and the sound of his voice singing
and how each person comes with
a different kiss.
My lower lip is hungry and full.]
The body is a Mystery School
Good lord – and when I enter
through the doors of breath sound undulation love slowness
the five elements begin
to glow in me
[the holy infusing the profane with grace]
and all of me animal mineral vegetable
is of the same essence
[imbibed and dreamed up, my illusions as real as
any others; and at the overlap we call “Reality”
and put our weight down.]
[and there are those realities that cannot bridge
but by love, the great extender,
allowing us each our solitudes
and our communion.]
The yin of it –
the spiral, the line drawn round and
round again, everexpanding-
a palpable unwinding,
unfurled in birdsong
and the rocking of hips.
it is the yin that rises in my heart, this great tender
ache for the world as it is coming to pass.
X. I speak with the voice of the snake oh lord
And I am the fig tree
Orange, date, walnut
It is the plants, lord
[they are tired of your dominion]
I am speaking for the creation
When I say this: [this is an earth hijacked]
We are all in this together.
[my lord, pleasure is holy
and the receiving and giving of pleasure]
my lord the intimate relationships
[old, your forms, are falling apart]
need a new balance
[the blind are leading each other up stairs, slowly.
There are bruises on their shins.]
And the pleasure exists
in merely being.
Unfiltered through a Christ it is an ease of instinct
from the tide pool to the stars
the one system nestled in countless others
bound by love [Brian Swimme’s Universe is a Green Dragon]
and we are alone in it – born into a body
[this hologram of cells] through which we experience
form and feeling and the filling out
of our selves beyond form
and this body no mere vehicle
but teacher, guide, and student
a synthesis of spirit.
And this body has a lifetime ride
that ends in countless ways
but always we are alone in it,
our own experience.
Green Gulch Farm & Zen Center Thursday
I go gathering seeds and the bark from Eucalyptus trees,
lighting the upper road. I imagine a bowl full of California
for your fingers to feel
small keepsakes for those who you are leaving
on the ground as you climb your way up high branches.
Are you going off to do a cosmic tree sit, Timotei?
Or off on the seas in a small boat
to visit the world of whales?
Or down as ash and bone,
as the wind brushes the land?
your small self remains
but the space is growing
Stations of the cross,
we stop along the way up
me i loved a god of
compost and bicycle songs, the fierce joy of a man becoming
[Timothy Andrew Scotchler, timotei and lichen, brawny Scot, his majesty the zen pirate, whistler extraordinaire, champion of the bicycle, caretaker of the outback, oasian, christian, creator of silly songs, friend to children and animals, love -]
gone passed while I was in the sauna fair nearly, that first night back in Portland. I looked at a clock while I was fresh sweated and seized with the need to demonstrate yin style bagua qi gung patting form. To make of my body a drum for thumping in the lobby of PDX’s Common Grounds. The next morning a voice message from Dale; Timotei’s spirit departed indeed and a wake happening –
Iron bodied Luohans
the transmutation of energy.
[Timotei and I the kind of story
east informing west how
to shed and come clean and
west informing east how to shine
all our awkwardness
on the way to grace.]
XI. Angels Rest 14 February 2005
[rainbows & soft hail]
like birds, like snakes
on the high gorge rocks
over the river
lay wings to rest
as the sun leaves the day
to the evening’s keeping.
we build cairns
small houses of stone
to mark a passing
[of the day
a lovers’ day]
of the body
off the sun]
in each of us
If and so god
all these refractions
like coyote trails
and i am traveling
and not always
do i stop the car
in the middle of the road
and get out to stand
and look into the woods
[you must maybe be seeking
your heart’s desire]
If and so god
came as a man
and she opened my heart
[christ the Son, He the father, E the spirit holy She]
how they do, says the rabbi
the practice of anything everything
Is the purpose Is the meaning.
[write the song. build the firepit and then build the fires.
sit in circles around them and sing.]
Spark off and glow [whenever two or more are gathered]
assemble the church of us
become the fire
become the song in its singing.
beginning And ending
Let’s build a small fire
and every once in a while
throw logs on it
and grow it bigger.
Ease was what he wanted
at last, after fighting so hard
against/for so many things,
he loved his people. simple.
Young oak of a man
grown mighty and challenging
I would use the timber of him
to build a craft, quietly bedraggled
with ebb tide barnacles, adrift on
the calm sound.
the 2nd of the year, Sunday
Newly woken, bundled in for the drive
We came out to the river to catch
the last afternoon tailings of winter light.
At the bridge we forded a small stream
and wound through a thicket
of young cottonwood and alder
found two nice round stones
rolled up our pant legs
to get the sun on our shins
and passed an Everybody’s picnic
of nokkelost and landjaeger
back and forth.
and then we chased the patches
of sunlight slowly down
the fern lined road.
There is a hug
that I hope stays with me.
A long holding on together,
the sun on his red beard and the top of my head.