Category Archives: The Abstract

The Vanishing Point

The disconcerting phenomenon of learning something new, and feeling you somehow know less than you did before. Bonafide knowledge is always a subtraction of certainty. If this is confusing, it’s because you are used to equating not knowing, with ignorance. But to know that you do not know, is the truest form of knowledge there is. The one all other forms of knowing rely on.

Your deepest knowing must be sweet and soluble.

What sits on your tongue like a pebble is not a sugar cube. Knowledge you can grasp is a fistful of coins. Please don’t strike a bad bargain. Too many have traded their days for small change.

The Games People Play (or) How It Is Sometimes

In another lifetime they might have been good, perhaps even great friends. Their natures each pitched to unusual keys, offset just enough to harmonize in inspired ways. But they didn’t. Not this time around. What emerged between them instead, was the relationship equivalent of elevator music. A vast politeness, a blameless bond neither strong nor interesting. It held them temporarily in the same orbit, no more, no less. Like passengers seated next to each other on a plane, who exchange brief pleasantries then fall into their separate worlds. Or acquaintances at a mutual friend’s party, who listen to one another’s stories with that air of formal attentiveness that betrays a lack of natural sympathies. From their forgettable interactions was absent the trouble or reward of real conversation. They traveled a shared highway, a little more than distant and much less than close. You know how it is with some people. And so it was with them. Though it might have been otherwise.


The kind of falling out that sinks beneath the surface after the initial confrontation. Unsettled ghosts woken by the disturbance now refuse to fall back asleep. They cast a gray pall over these relationships. Joy like a migratory bird leaves for warmer climes. Pleasantries continue to be exchanged, small kindnesses done. But there is wanness to them. Like winter sun. A futility. Like seed cast on stone. Everything feels smaller than. Diminished. Emptied like a shelled pea-pod. A once container. Contentless yet true to form. The ghosts stir the hollowed out husks with their sighs. ‘Do you remember?’ they whisper, ‘Do you remember those days when life was unbroken, the illusion whole? Do you remember when this friendship made anything possible?’


A variety of veiled distrust between them that self-righteously tilts away from full-blown disagreement, and nurtures instead, many minor refusals to correspond in perspective. The bigger battlefields have been wisely abandoned. The smaller ones foolishly overrun. Each bends over backwards  to avoid seeing eye-to-eye on minutiae. For to concur on trivialities admits common ground. And the thought of shared turf even in its most innocuous forms, is still repellant. A passive contrariness becomes the weapon of choice. Difference of opinion wielded as, not sword, but toothpick. Capable of wounding nothing, save vanity. Horns will not be locked like battering rams. No. Nothing so honest or conspicuous. Instead balloons will be pricked, and sails quietly de-winded by turns. Subtle deflation the new strategy.

Perhaps Poetry

Perhaps poetry is just the capacity to have strange thoughts about familiar things.  Perhaps it is what the gods are muttering in your ear right now, and you are only half paying attention. Perhaps poetry is what you stub your soul on in the dark, or stumble upon, like a lucky penny. Perhaps it’s an archer stalking you through the wilderness, with sleek arrows aimed at your heart.

Perhaps  poetry is a collection of half truths that add up to a wordless realization. Perhaps it is what happens while the milk is boiling over and the train is running late. Perhaps poetry is what the wind throws to you when you throw caution to the wind. Perhaps it is a lighthouse keeper on an uninhabited island, a dozing shepherd, a tracker in the desert. Perhaps…

Perhaps poetry is a precise way of admitting ignorance. Perhaps it is what lies exactly halfway between talking and singing. Perhaps poetry is how the dreamworld exhales. Perhaps it is what the sun rises for, and what the moon expects from the night. Perhaps it is a heralding of the buried, the forgotten and ignored.

Perhaps poetry is words to all the songs sung just out of earshot, the color for which there is no crayon, the medicine for ills that will never find a cure. Perhaps poetry is a trickster, a temptress, a changeling, and charlatan. A snake charmer luring us out of our baskets. See how we lift off our coils, and sway with transfixed eyes?

Perhaps poetry is a stowaway on an embattled ship. Or an exiled prince, a prodigal daughter. Perhaps poetry is a jester, a jouster, a juggler. A latecomer, a lie-a-bed, a stuntman, a secret agent, a stranger at the door. Perhaps poetry is a fallen angel, a fabulous crone, a fettered slave whose song just burst out the door.

Wildflower Alchemy

Writing, a way of mining one’s experience, she thought, and then shook her head. Experience was not a physical resource, and writing neither extraction or exploitation. Writing, she decided, was more — a way of ripening one’s experience. A way of bringing forth its shifting forms, its colors, fragrance, depth, its generative qualities. Without writing her life would be a clutch of wildflower seeds slumbering in a closed fist, like so much trapped potential. Writing loosened her fingers, let slip those seeds, sprinkling them on waiting earth. Letting darkness and light, forgetfulness and attention, inklings and intimations, work their alchemy. Allowing the invisible a chance, to bloom.


Credentials. A sturdy tree in the thickly forested landscape of words, its roots tangled in the understory, with those of credence, credit, credible, credulous, and creed. Revealing inextricable relationships (as roots are wont to do.) In this case illustrating dependencies between our willingness to extend benefit– and what and how and whom we believe.

Credentials. Mine are not impressive, but that does not stop me from looking for them in others. Where did this habit come from I wonder? I am fairly certain I did not have it as an infant. Gazing at adoring faces above my cradle, I did not demand to see resumes or even IDs.  What happened along the way?

I do like the word. Credentials. It registers as hardwood dependable. A word that echoes with the weight of its syllables, the quality of trustworthiness it means to communicate. A solid word. A word one can lean on, like a marble pillar, or a brick wall. A bolstering force when one’s spirit or confidence is flagging. 

Do you aspire to enter the business of demanding to see credentials? Then it is highly recommended you begin developing an edge. Sans edge, demanding credentials is a risky proposition. This is why no one in their right minds demands credentials from customs officers, grizzly bears, or grandmothers. Once you have cultivated an edge and are invested with sufficient power, the need to produce credentials falls away. Like the need for modesty past a certain age. With sufficient power, your authority becomes self-evident. Like the sun. Then you can safely bestride the narrow world, like a Colossus. Or Julius Caesar. And if bestriding is not your thing, you can simply sit down quietly instead, and no one will disturb you with demands for productivity– or credentials. 

It must be noted that there are cases where an edge is not necessary. Sometimes it is possible to rewrite the equation and subvert the order of things. Sometimes it is sufficient to tap into your own heartwood, and discover there, unshakeable worth. Sometimes this discovery causes confidence to bloom overnight. Like wildflowers in the desert. A windblown confidence in yourself and the world that extends into a rapturous willingness. To give credit without reck, to all who demand it, and all who do not.

Credentials? You say then laughing– 

This breath. And inshallah, the next. 

Visions of Fall

Fall is here again. Season of spare and paring things down, of cutting ties, and letting loose. Season of discards, castaways, parachutes. Of trees performing mass exorcisms. Fall is here again. Lean stray dog, stripping things down to the bone. No furnished rooms for let. Its offices austere, its intentions monastic. Fall does not wish on stars or live in hope. This is what it looks like to divest dramatically. Let the chips fall where they may. 

Thoughts take on a patina in this time of verdigris and vine. Nothing is as it once was. Everything is susceptible to tarnish. Even you. Who can feign innocence in fall? In Spring we are wide-eyed children learning our mother tongue. By fall the world is crowded with words, and we’ve all tasted forbidden fruit. Unforgettable knowledge blooms in the body. The flavor of freewill. All lanes are memory lanes in fall. All beauty is bittersweet. Desolation and delight hold each other’s pinky finger, swear they will never be separated.

There is a clamoring glamour to these days.  Honking geese cause a small traffic jam in your heart. The wind shakes the trees and your confidence. The new moon feels like an abandonment. One must practice self-reliance in spring and summer — in fall one falls upon inner resources. It is too late to build reserves. If there aren’t any then, then there aren’t any. The stringency of this is grounding. All laws of nature are.

Lamp light is poetic in every season, in fall it is also phantasmic. Walk down an unfamiliar sidewalk in that deep blue triangle of life between dinner and dreamtime. In that surreal soundscape of slow cars, brisk dog walkers, and the struggling notes of a valiant middle-school musician, look for curtainless windows. Ones through which you might catch a glimpse of a staircase curving out of view, or the polished corner of a dining table. Maybe an oil painting on the wall, or a fiddle leaf fig by a desk. You do not need to try to fit yourself inside these bright tableaux. You are already implicated. Everyone leads imaginary lives in other people’s homes. There you are. Invisible and standing at the casement window, trailing fingers in the sink, or curled up in an armchair. Lost in a book so old and worn, the lettering on its red spine is indecipherable. 

Fall nights lift the anchor, make it easy to drift under the stars into the sea of someone, somewhere else, to belong to other worlds without purpose or premeditation. For brief moments, on such nights I walk without name, or personal history. I walk without thought of tomorrow, without thought of past grievances or blessings. Moving as woodsmoke moves, lifting out of a narrow chimney and discovering its belonging everywhere.

In this season of not-yet-winter, I slip my hand into your warm one. Am suctioned sweetly back, into the outline of my skin. I feel my feet on the ground, and stretch inside, like a cat. Ready to lie down at the glowing hearth of my heart. Ready to enter its dream.

In fall, perhaps more than any other season– I remember.

How good it is to be home.

For Rilke

A sideways pursuit

Head bowed, no hands, tail thrashing

Living the questions.

Stargazer pollen from 1 lily, beet juice, lemongrass-scented chai dregs, kajal splinter & 1 questing brush


Curvaceous mermaid

On rocky perch, singing sea

To land — ampersand.

Stargazer pollen from 1 lily + beet juice + cardamom-scented chai dregs + kajal chip + 1 footloose brush & pen

Unexpected Me

Turned hotly to strike,

Tripped on electric surprise

My coiling beauty.

Turmeric-tinged water + coffee grounds + streak of kajal & 1 capricious brush

Some Days

On some days heart is

a small, fantastical bird

with ruffled feathers

Stargazer pollen from 1 fresh-bloomed lily + saffron-laced chai dregs + a sliver of kajal + 1 nonchalant brush & pen