Sunday, January 23, 2011

Looking for ... you

There is, from the very beginning our search.

If, over any prolonged period of time, we look into ourselves and try to find who or what we are, we do not find anything so stable or a person who stops changing. We do not find a someone whom we always know or, for that matter, like.

What are we human beings then? We are, a search.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In the interstices

The music
you can't quite hear

Moves towards freedom;

Waking out of life

To true love.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Everything is alive:

Thus the marsh where
Age encroaching

On memories of insouciant capability
On confidence about places one has striven in the world
To occupy as finally stable ground.

The marsh encroaching on that solid possibility

A silent refuge of fervent life and rot

Near the Palladian Villas
Near the place where Confucius is said to have met a boatman
Who taught the sage all he could and no more
Before polling his slender craft back through reeds and mist.

A place where I, a child, was stalking with my father,
Squelching through smelly mud, the broken canes, brackish water, serpents, crabs;

When a huge flash and breaking clatter
As a great Blue Heron startled, rose,
Cruised off in the pale imperial sky;

Scared us both: my father laughed-
His everlasting gift to me.

Everything is alive.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Endless florescence of innumerable random coincidences
Called existence
Burnished by deep erotic longing for existing;

Shadowed by hidden erotic longing
For unforeseeable outcomes in utter random re-forming
Called death:

Existing is not alone the expression of our meeting,
Nor death the seal of final parting.
Both are partial,
Incomplete meetings, partial partings;
Subsumed utterly
In sparkling waves of unknowable continuing.

All moving in immense tides of radiant love:
Inconceivable love not contained in any limits of any existing or dying,

But shining, flourishing in every instance
And without purpose.

Dear Heart,
There is no completion.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Return to the Beginning


Again to this seeming

Of ambiguous being and fluid locale

Now releasing

In the interstices of specific circumstances shifting:

Here is the music

Through long and lost variations

Now set free.

Here is this love

This accepted wholly

This offered unending


Sunday, July 18, 2010


And why not now?

Let's continue.

Basho late in life wrote:

A sorrowful destiny –
Man becomes a bamboo shoot
At his inevitable end. *

Well, I beg to disagree.

This flow of transformation:
Why sorrowful?
From what perspective then need such destiny be reversed?
And to what end?

Let's continue

Matsuo Basho- Makoto Ueda tr. Kodansha P. 146

Saturday, June 19, 2010


The pop of poles pulling from the river bed; the stagnant smell of river mud;
The fishermen push out through cracking reeds into the secret stream.

The bright moon hovers on the mountain ridge
Blurred and shimmering inside warm billowing clouds.

The thin hulls gliding softly hiss,
A sound expanding in the still and silent night,

As the earth, trees, river are muffled in the dark
And a sky is filled with starless light.

We lean against the pole,
Entering the drift as a subtle current takes us

And our heart/mind, unsure, relieved,


Well, here we are.

Here. Though this is surely familiar, it may not be your preferred aesthetic any more. Perhaps, while it represents for me a freedom, for you perhaps it’s imprisonment, cliché. Either way, a now distant birthplace for us both, I think. I hope you don’t mind.

Certainly, it’s not what either of us expected, is it?

I miss you, you know. I miss the possibility of phone calls which you would have your wife make when you’d had a dream or an intuition. Those no more. But here we are and it’s better than nothing, no?

And still, as ever, a surprise.


A quick shock
From within, as if a terrible thought,
A premonition,
A cramp
Freezes each in place.

And frozen in that sharp empty moment,
Impenetrable space expands
Pale and black
And so unsure.

Standing in the boat,
No forward motion
But rocking side to side,
Listening as the water laps.
Perhaps a fish has leapt far off.
Looking as if a crane has risen suddenly,
And there is a cause
For this sudden gap.


We often share that.

Before we met, the woman who introduced us told me about you visiting her studio and looking at her paintings. She heard you saying under your breath: “All that work….and For What?”

A tremor of ‘ for what?’ I wanted to meet you then. Now we have just a different kind of meeting, a new relationship to embodiment, I guess we could say. A little strained. Different possibilities. But unsure as ever.

I see you smile. It’s not as if you AREN’T exactly, is it?


Do you remember that time you and Agnetti , both nicely drunk, were standing by the kitchen table? Sunset light glowed in the dust streaks on the windows. “You and I… are exactly…the same,” you told him carefully, “BUT’ and here your eyes rounded in amazement, “…one of us is just a little taller.”

So, you’re gone, but here we are as again, you – in your chosen conversational format- recount your conversations with others.

As you told me then you’d gone out late one sultry summer night for a walk and ended up chatting with the old Italian men sitting under the limp maple trees below 6th Avenue.

“When you think about when you were young, is it long ago or like yesterday?” you asked them. “Oh, just like yesterday,” they replied gravely.

Your grandmother, do you remember?, gave you a fruit they call now an Asian Pear. When you first saw it, it was just after WWII had ended. Your grandmother showed it to you. It was, she said, very expensive. “What is it?” you asked. “It’s a Twentieth Century fruit.” “Really.” “Yes.” “And do you know why it’s called that?” “Why?” “Because this is the Twentieth Century.” And she held it out to give him. “It’s your century.”


And onward following the meandering stream
That leaves the shadow landscape of familiar scents,
The vague silhouettes of houses where neighbors dream,
Barns where ill-fated livestock sleeping paw at the air.

Following on hidden channels, we press on
Sensing growing unfamiliarity,
A strangeness, risk.
The river widens,
Solid land recedes,
And ahead, we intuit wider space,
Mysterious and unconstrained.


An early visit took place in summer. In the long cool gray studio with a cold gray marble floor salvaged from, you said, a bank, we drank bright red hibiscus tea.

“The difference between Kafka and Mallarme is that Kafka could always pour himself completely into anything he could imagine- a cockroach, anything. In whatever Mallarme imagined, he found only a vast void until even looking in the mirror, all he saw was void and chance.”

And soon thereafter, a party filling the same room: Duchamp’s sprightly widow, John Cage suffering from arthritis discussing shoes, Jasper Johns aloof, pickled, Raushenberg, garrulous and fun, drinking telling when first he saw the world with corrective eyeglasses, stripped of the luminous haze and how he was ‘ashamed to be in such a place’.

And late one night, you told me how you saw the art world consumed with cynicism, greed and stripped of morals, offering nothing to those who followed. We talked about Liberace and his sincerity.

Then your art: your maps. These diagrams marking the field or pathway from:

“Whenever “I” or “we” is pronounced, it feels or seems as though there will follow full presence of a subject in addition to that of the speaker. We are given only shifting space or a field of play….

“I have begun to consider the construction of a situation for a parallel, reminiscent of Frankenstein, as a strong way to respond to the nonsensical urgency of subject matter. …

“Always we are used-up texture, then we become texture… (but) to make the maximum situation:

“1. Two or thee points of departure

“2. Edge blank

“3. Receivability

“4. By: enclosure for continuance(?).

“5. Saturation vectors” and these on through

“6. Layered approximations…”

And continuing to

“19. Diffuse receding

“20. Waiting texture

“21. Impressionable stretching…”

until finally you reached

“32. Sudden drop…

“33. Scale of action… “

and ended with – on that occasion-

“34. Call of continuity: the momentum or the maker of second nature: energy advisor: judge?”

(From Arakawa: ‘Some Words,pp37-39 Stadtische Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, 1977)

And these spread and placed within a vast expanse of wonder: schematic drawings as balanced as askew, suggesting a continuing into time and on. This world you articulate is for me always quizzical, fresh and a happy return into the secret stream.


Blurred and shimmering inside warm billowing clouds.

A sound expanding in the still and silent night,

And a sky is filled with starless light.

Entering the drift as a subtle current takes us

And our heart/mind, unsure, relieved,


Of course, years of practice made the detailed terrain of such tracking almost familiar. Longchen Rabjam would have been quite happy sitting with you here.

Remember when I asked you if you had ever considered living, practicing in a formal Buddhist framework?

“Oh yes,” you said. You had gone to a Zen monastery for a six week probationary training. At the end, the abbot expelled you, saying you had “Too many thoughts.” Do you remember the terrible sob that wrenched from your heart when you told me this? I can hear it even now.

And so you have discovered, if not a new stream, a new mapping.

You are close to me right now, as an elder brother, moving through the dark always just within view. Right now.


Do you remember our conversation about the great antipathy all the surrealists had to taking taxis? Eluard’s widow was scandalized that you would even consider it even though the Metro had closed for the night. This emerging from one of many log chats about Nicolas Calas who has just been mugged in the subway.


My father died suddenly and, in the same week, your father died. You and your father had been estranged. He was a doctor and had been a Soviet Prisoner of war after they took back Manuchuria. He had been locked in the bottom of a latrine for months. He had never been the same. Still you spoke of him and held my hand, thinking of my father too; their deaths: “a terrible inconceivable tragedy.” You shook your head.

I asked you about your mother. You described her a old, a little crazy. She showed you how every morning she went outside and, arms upraised greeted the sun as it rose. “You don’t have to do that,” you told here. “You’re still young,” she snapped back. “What do you know?”


In the darkness moving quietly through lapping water
What knowing is there?
Moving forward, what traces to what goal?
What can be told that can be followed or count as useful knowing?

And yet…
Could we stop in such endeavor?
Could we stop and still count ourselves among the living?


Do you remember? The French Government wanted to make you a Chevalier du Legion de L’Art. “What is that,” you asked. “Something to do with horses, yes?” They explained it was an honor. “But what’s it good for?” You asked nicely. “Well, it helps with reservations in restaurants and hotels.” “Ok.”

And then, at the ceremony where your received this honor, you gave a speech in which you said that in the 20th Century, every concept, every emotional arrangement, every belief, every theory of social, psychological, ethical or physical reality had create nothing but one huge total disaster. You proposed that the only solution now was to consider low income housing.

Soon after that you decided to abandon making your wonderful maps, and make buildings in which where the maps led to could be realized directly by the occupants.

It was at that time you began to believe that the rearrangement of percept and perceiver was sufficient to overcome death. As if this were volitional act.

Completely rearranging what the compositors of the Abidharma called co-dependent origination would allow for such a shift in mortality, but composite phenomena being by their nature inherently unstable, not for its termination.

Your wife responded to this objection with anger. You merely laughed and said: “You agree that living in such a building could prolong life, yes? … Well, why not go a little further.”

Now we pole our vessels onward.
It is not yet time to write the poems of parting.
I hear you whistle through your teeth.
I hear the water hiss
Deeper than notions of destiny.
I hear you laugh.
What termination of affection, of understanding, of quest
Has been effected here.
What does it mean this death you opposed.


Do you remember the last time I saw you. The last time I saw you, your wife handed me a card that said: "Make Death Illegal". "Oooh" I said, "Are you contemplating a medical or legal initiative here? I think the former will work better, since there really is no effective punishment you can impose in the latter." You laughed and invited me for tea; your wife looked unhappy.

I was so happy to see you. Do you remember that I asked where love fit in your endeavor? You looked down and did not answer. I’m still asking you, my dearly beloved brother.

We shall speak of this again.