The Election of 2016

Donald Trump is elected and I am enraged, despondent, humiliated.
I walked my first picket line at 18. Protesting the Vietnam War.
I didn’t even know what the Vietnam War was exactly.
Everybody at Pomona College was doing it. Well all the cool people.
Justice, truth, humanity, peace, love.
I learned about it, the war that is, and I was still opposed to it.
Put my body on the line as the police menaced toward us, waving truncheons.
Take off your earrings somebody said. They’ll rip them out of your ears.
Don’t give them anything to grab.
Raw force.
We retreated.
Justice, truth, humanity, peace, love lightly overlie violence.
It’s easy to put your body on the line at 20, but it gives you pause at 66.

The victories were fragile and now it is all gone for me,
In the blink of an eye.
Another false identity unmasked.
And maybe I am wrong
And the story has simply moved on.
Leaving emptiness to sit with and not push away.

I walk to Starbucks on the Boulevard, sitting under the palm trees
And the cars going by.
The old white guys are holding forth around a table as they do every morning.
The huge pale greyhound eases himself onto the terra cotta tiles, meticulously
Stretches his dainty paws and rests his chin on his legs.
They usually talk about the industry, the only industry worth talking about in Los Angeles.
Today someone is explaining how to bribe a valet to park your car closer.
Commonplace corruption built in.
No escape.
And Donald Trump will be president.

It’s going to be how it is.

driving home from ojai

I, well something, was driving south on the 101 freeway by the sea
thinking about the mountain in the distance beyond Camarillo
And the indescribable-iridescent blue gray of the ocean at dusk in Ventura Harbor
All in my mind and the crowd of loving beings
with me,
each me, and no one else
telling me to remember who I am, right now,
And that I could remember right now.
Telling me
as if they were not me.
But they are
And I am not a person

I am not a person is a very odd feeling that makes my head hot.
Before we got in the car at the Krishnamurti Library a blessing came in the form of lights, one after the other, red, blue, green, violet.
Show me the path, I prayed.
There is no path he said. You are already there. Wake up.

And with Allegra
who is also me and
who has been telling me to remember who I am since Ojai
Where the person started asking dumb questions about what she meant
Knowing exactly what she meant but wanting to be difficult
You could do it right now
they want you to know.
I know.
The spine is growing hotter and she is worried she is upsetting me.
The person is wondering how she is going to drive home in this condition, but it occurs.
And I am not upset although not being a person is very odd.
In Ventura she tells me her head was split open and she had 360 degree vision and was one with everything but it’s gone now.
The mountain is in the mind and the cars, freeway, ocean, Allegra, gurus, all in the mind and not my mind either.
And I don’t know how not to be a person except there it is, over and over. I am not a person.

special ed

The history teacher is young, energetic.
Maybe 15 kids, mostly
Boys don’t notice as I come through the door.
She has to attend an IEP meeting.
Just show the film. They know
what to do.
What can we do? I think.
One of the boys gets up and pushes
play.

Most do not watch the images of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
And the interviews with elderly survivors.
Their drawings, that I’ve seen in that book Unforgettable Fire.
Two girls near the TV sit with hands on chin.
Girl farther away flirts with her tablemates.
Toward the end, the boys consult the two
girls about what to write on their worksheets. Nerdy
girls basking in the brief attention of the cool
guys.

They are numb I think. It’s just another
cartoon or video game.
Horror in Honduras perhaps lived and escaped from.
Here in the US surrounded by gangs, shootings, hunger,

tired sad mothers especially.
In Spanish Jonathan’s mother says, I leave at five and don’t get home until seven I don’t know what they do.
She has four
boys. Jonathan is not doing his homework,
he looks doggedly at the floor, silent
as the teachers talk about him. His mother, full of hope at his birth, must have thought  carefully about choosing the name Jonathan. The system chugs on trying to
help so many kids trying to get to the diploma everyone says
will make things better.

some 20 years ago I remember showing Schindler’s List to freshmen
I think I was in the back, crying a little, I always do in that movie.
The class was silent, that rare precious dead silence of complete attention.
Pedro, who was a real pain in the ass all year, a tweaker said his mates, who didn’t like
him either, Pedro cheered when the Nazi pulled out a revolver and shot a woman.
There was a collective gasp.
I stopped the VCR. Out! I bellowed.
I told Al, the assistant principal, Pedro can’t come back to my class.
You can’t really do that he said, although I understand.
There was a week of school left, including finals.
I’ll give him a C and he can just go somewhere else.
There are all kinds of reasons kids get passing grades.

In retrospect, Pedro probably had a story.
He was Salvadoran.

the call

I surrender to You, who are nothing.
What a crazy thing to do.
And yet no other choice.
This shadow world
Is profoundly empty.
I follow the faintest of feelings.
A call from nowhere.
I must go.

the argument

29 years, and  the arguments are old.
What’s the point? he says and clams up,
Arms crossed, looking at the floor.
I am feeling abandoned and
flash anger, deep tears, anguish.
I give him the silent treatment all afternoon
but he seems not to notice.

 

I know better.
My complaints are hollow,
the responses mechanical.
myself is a fiction
that does not bear scrutiny.
This marital conflict engulfing us
dissolves right now.

 

Jonah in the whale just had to summon
enough love to walk through the door of his heart.

seva

Inside the empty cabinet, the metal measuring tape
bends at 27-1/2 inches
and I am joyful for 27-1/2 X 10-1/2.
Wrote it down twice already and still cut the
contact paper wrong.
Somehow not bothered much when the plastic sticks to itself,
I pull it apart,
position each ill-fitting piece five, six, seven times.
smooth out the lumps and wrinkles in a personless state that can only be called
love for no reason. So
Shiva dreams.

nothing

 

No ground.
Endless universes spin into being at a thought and vanish.
What? Where? Who?
Nothing. Nowhere. No one.
When?
Now.
Why?
No reason.
Love only.

What the hell?
No hell, no heaven.
No place to stand.
No place, no standing.

The eyes go warm
As I try to allow nothingness.
The cat looks inquiringly.
What are you doing?
Nothing.

Being present in the room.
Or is the room present in me?

The mind that doesn’t exist shuts it down and goes back to smaller dreams.
Petrified of endless, overwhelming, glorious existence and
Unable to resist its gentle, piercing love call,
I answer as I can.

lazy early morning cat

The lazy early morning cat opens one eye.
She has a different rhythm.
She is resting after tearing around the apartment during the night.
I awaken full of buzzing energy.
A new day?
I spend the night who knows where.
In consciousness of course.
The body is immobile in the bed.
The day-night thing is confusing.
As is the awake-dream thing.
It’s all happening at once.

I go to the doctor about my back.
Sorry you’re hurting, says Charles.
No body, no doctor.
For a moment I sit with it.
Then resume being me.

cats on acid

I complain that paying attention to the thoughts is excruciating and exhausting.
Nothing to do but wait for death, the teacher says.
Living or dead, either way, the ego goes.
It’s not going happily.
Keep noticing the thoughts, he says.
No hope, no fear, Pema Chodron says.

The sensations of heat in the body remind me
She is here. Where would She not be?
The cat appears as though condensed out of the air.
The brain scans of cats are equivalent to humans on acid.
Staring at things no one else can see.
Like the black blob near the ceiling right now.
The cat looks too.
As real as anything else.
All an illusion of Shakti, I’m told,
Or strings of vibrating energy.
Take your pick.

It’s not so gloomy all the time, the dying of the ego.
Eating soup. The eyes grow warm.
She is here, seeing Brussels sprouts,
The rosebush outside the window, the disorderly bookshelves.
I surrender, for a moment
To more love than I had ever imagined.