Charge of the blight brigade

            As I woke and rose this morning, gratitude was present but hibernating underneath the tarps and blankets of the “What’s Wrong” cataloguing crew.

            It’s as if there is a psychic equivalent of lymphocytes roving through our mind-scape–turning over every stone (and often uprooting flowers of joy and wonder)—in their myopic quest to seek and neutralize trouble (past and future). Just as in physical autoimmune disorders, these can over proliferate and turn the psyche upon itself, generate a story of chronic emergency that begets a culture of woe.

            I’m grateful that as I puttered in the kitchen, I became conscious of the subtle and pervasive shadow broadcast by these little soldiers–grateful that at least I have become conscious of what went on unconsciously for decades.

            As I was chopping vegetables, I caught myself–zones of my body– almost posturing a breathless salute to the propaganda, turning my own body and psyche into a soldier for the cause of chronic victimhood. This happened because I detected an irrepressible part of me admiring the head of cauliflower I was handling. And, just as quickly, I registered the cloud of suppression there to smother that, generated by an automated guard of defended-ness–a smog of the quiet rancor hanging over a heart set against a mad world. And I recognized that some time in vanishing history, this had become my psyche’s “default setting.” This impulse was so general, so accustomed, so seemingly natural that it masqueraded as a constitutional trait. But it isn’t.

            From experience, I know I can switch channels, select another lens through which to focus my attention, my light. I can choose differently. Moreover, there is the hope this repeated over-riding will reset the default.

            This background hum of pessimism is a trait shared with those who populated my formative environments. I remember characters and institutions throughout my life that exuded this mood and attitude, convincing me it was normal, natural, sensible.

            It is simply conditioning, inheritance. And I am innocent and forgiven.

            And I am willing to be grateful, even though I lament that I automatically default to ingratitude as an áffect I took on somewhere: one which, in spite of ample transcendent wisdom, still colors my world; one for which I have not yet been able to access the settings and permanently alter the default.

            As I feel into it, I recognize it as preemptive anger, a way of protecting the heart with a camouflage of cynicism. It is so very subtle; but it is constrictive, the way the fingers curl around to protect the tender pads and palm of the hand.

            Without it, when I choose differently, the soft self naturally opens and swells with rising wonder and innocence. The ground of being dissolves from parched earth into a dew-drenched moss beatitude. And I am so lucky to be able to feel that. It is Life.


Thalli Deva


Out the window, a late April Snow

mutes the green fire of Spring.

Yet through the window of my trusty wood stove

a green spirit appears in the flames.

On one hand I know it’s just chemical glow,

but I rise to the magic it brings.

So hungry am I, like the flames for this dry wood,

that a place in my heart silent sings

to welcome this Sprite

with all mischief and might

and renew life’s mysterious Bling.

m.l. 4/18 N.M

Endoscopy, Calliope and other muses…


In the hours after my double-header endoscopy/colonoscopy this week, folks have asked me how it went. When I would say “It was a really good experience,” there would be a pause, and searching eye-contact, as they would wait for the laugh or grimace that would confirm the sarcasm they were trying to find in my delivery. It never came…. Nor, in most cases, would come much more explanation.

In fact, here, I’m skipping the part most find so dramatic: the prep. That gets plenty of press. (The next sentence I rewrote several times trying to avoid a variety of obvious-but-unintentional puns that seemed to intrude with gross, sophomoric insistence into each attempt, but I gave up.)

Here I skip to the end, where the juice was for me.

I was given a brief recap by the doc, in person and in print, along with some pictures, which I will treasure:

Oh, look, isn’t the the sweetest appendiceal orifice!?

And what a precious, healthy and well-vasculated Duodenal Bulb?! 

Imagine! only one polyp in 25 feet dewy pink intestine!

Since I’d have loved to watch the procedure on a screen, like others I know have done, I really am very grateful for the pictures. They make it all “real” somehow, more trustworthy and also more miraculous.  My father talked about his ileocecal valve for years. But I have seen mine; I’m that much closer than he ever was to empirical certainty of what most of us only imagine, speculate on and take a text book’s word for is actually inside the formless field of sensation we “know” our body to be, beneath the derma.

Dad was fascinated with bodily function, like he was with all well-designed man-made machinery. And he was subtly in tune with the energetics of his own body. But his mind could bias his interpretations of those sensations. And his bias against the misguided medical system deprived him of the delights of visual aids, until his illness had deprived him of the capacity to enjoy them, when the medical system got hold of his own malfunctioning body (and brain).

When his wife broke her patella years earlier, and they made a rare foray to the medical world, he developed and enlarged a “negative” of the X-ray for display. She was discomfited; he was delighted. We are conditioned to value the visual sense most in this culture; and his voyeuristic photographer’s eye could not resist. Frankly, I’m with him: there is such beauty and even mystique in those glimpses into the insides of us, which, until we get a picture, is all just hearsay and myth.

So, those entero-scopic pictures made it worth the trip; they are, after all, my only memories of the trip. Because the other best thing about the trip was the trip itself; the trip to Nowhere; the timeless, spaceless interval in which the clock hand moved about 40 minutes, and I got to not exist--what a relief!– until I heard my name and responded, almost involuntarily, as if snapped  back into a dimension where I do apparently exist.  Of course, while I was nobody in Nowhere, I could not appreciate not existing. It was only in those precious moments after emerging that I felt swathed in TabulaRasic innocence and a fulsome wave of nostalgic grief: a memory, quite literally, of sweet nothing.

And I gave myself to this delicious, pure and primal grief for a few minutes. And I gave myself also to fully sanctioned flatulence.  The voice who called me back told me that my colon had been inflated with air for the procedure and I would be passing gas. It was encouraged to. So while one end quietly and contentedly sobbed, the other end bugled with equal satisfaction and naturalness. Here in this chamber of unspoken secrets, the colonoscopy recovery room, one could weep and one could fart with commensurate impunity.

Once in the special waiting room, where post-op patients wait for their rides, relearn both to use their cell-phones (despite the “no cell phone sign) and sit upright like a standard Homosapien 2.016, I scribbled a little “poem” with the last ink in my pen. I posted it briefly to my blog, naked and without explanation, then I moved it to the verse page. But I  repost it now, more suitably introduced.

After the Procedure

Gas bloat

And the sweetest grief…

She called me by name

 and I was there to answer and didn’t even know it.

As if I materialized upon request,

the Habit of Sentience activated by my name.

Curled like a baby—

The best position for weeping from the purest well—

And nestled in a burrow of peach fuzz

 against the belly of the Mother of all Knowing,

  just this side of The Veil.


Albuquerque, NM

Brave Wisdom

Yesterday, or so, I happened upon a poem by Jose Alcantara, in the On Being blog/newsletter.
And then today I was handed a copy of the oft quoted Courtney Walsh poem “Dear Human.”
They both, in brilliantly different ways, point to the same wisdom, the wisdom of non-avoidance, and the fact that life is a messy experience, and we can choose to focus our attention more on the experience or the messy.
The world is feeling mighty messy lately, and so as we reach down into our heroic souls for courage and quietude, these poems make a good cheering section.

Dear Human

Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong.
You didn’t come here to master unconditional love.
That is where you came from and where you’ll return.
You came here to learn personal love.
Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love.
Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love.
Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling.
Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often.
You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are.
You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous.
And then to rise again into remembering.
But unconditional love? Stop telling that story.
Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives.
It doesn’t require modifiers.
It doesn’t require the condition of perfection.
It only asks that you show up. And do your best.
That you stay present and feel fully.
That you shine and fly and laugh and cry
and hurt and heal and fall and get back up
and play and work and live and die as YOU.
It’s enough. It’s Plenty.

Excerpts from A Field Guide to Getting Lost
If you have a compass, smash it.
Nothing can point you to true anything, let alone true north.
Besides — and never forget this — you are trying to get lost.
You may be gone for a long time
so be sure not to pack any food or water.
It is only the hungry who feed, only the thirsty who are quenched.
Before you leave, be sure to write a note
telling everyone exactly where you will not be.
The last thing you need is someone coming to your rescue.
Now, find the best map possible
and tear it up. You will be traveling on a scale
that no one has ever drawn.
Do not leave a string of crumbs behind you.
This would only attract predators.
On second thought, go ahead.
Write postcards telling everyone of your adventures.
Be sure to lie, like a fox leaving false tracks.
Someday they will thank you.
You will not know when you have arrived.
But if you think you have, you haven’t.
If you think haven’t, you probably have.
If you come to a fork in the road
stab yourself in the foot with it. You will
reach your destination much faster if you are limping.
Better yet, use it to pluck out your eyes.
There are many signposts along the way.
Maybe now you will learn to see.




Last night

David Whyte—

his voice an airborne unguent—wafted in to embrace this soul,

pouring from tiny earbuds, through the conductive cavern of this skull,

illuminating its timeless, spaceless course to my heart

with meaning’s invisible glow.


And this dawn morning his visit lingers,

as fog mystifies a landscape that might as well be

the moorland of his upbringing:

Brambles of wild rose and grass

stand in mutely and ruddily for heather and bracken:

Still, homey and woven through with birdsong.


This heart rests open in the cool, blue dim.

The eyes dilate to drink deep the nourishing gloam and damp.

And one magic yields to another

as gold blooms upon and crispens a grey and misty world,

transfiguring the moors of Bronte into the vivid desert of Okeefe.

ml, nm, 4/9/16

Springtime in Apocalypse (I)

Springtime in Apocalypse (I)


The belly of that robin is almost glowing.

He is singing, I am sure; but I can’t hear him.

The bush outside this window softly nods agreement;

   the one that rarely stirs, sheltered against the house.

The wind has shifted.

The sun still shines,

   reflected in a tangy glow on the walls of the neighbors’ houses,

      which stand just where they were yesterday.

So far so good.


Niles has changed the spelling of his name: N-I-H-I-L-S .

“If you can’t beat ’em, join him,” he says.

What would I change my name to?

I aspire to another sort of annihilation;

   from the inside out, like the caterpillar’s.


It would not have letters, this name.

Letters are noisy; they are meant to be.

And words are rusty gates.

How do you spell                     ?