poem for tim – excerpts

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,

an updwelling

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

the glory

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

movement together.

Their dance will feed us

both: me down here on this

bridge in another rainy spring

Sunday morning and

him dispersed

except in the memory

of motion

[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

in contemplation

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


as gravity

as grace

as faith

as –

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

supercharged boddhisattvas

synchopated pandemonium

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]

we dance

like birds, like snakes

on the high gorge rocks

over the river

lay wings to rest

shed skin

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]

the stupa

of the body


[a flare

off the sun]

the god

in each of us



If and so god

all these refractions

and glimpses

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

more closely.

[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]


songs end

how they do, says the rabbi

[who knows]

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

he said

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.

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