Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The secret of horses and five tears in "the hallway"

I'm taking an "I" in Pre-socratics.
One day is not enough time to write what I can do with what Plato has already done. Especially considering that I woke in the middle of the night clearly understanding that there is a connection between Antiphon's return to horsemanship, overseeing the smith's work on a bit rather than reciting Zeno's book; Aristotle's later reference to telos and the craft of bridle making; and Parmenides' return to his own natural philosophy to write a Proem about riding mares to the gates of Truth.
I sat in the philosophy hallway a few hours ago, pouring over my Greek textbook, and the spigot got the best of me. I spilt at most four, maybe five tears; just enough to lift the lid on the pressure. Just long enough for Dave, one of the other Ethics TAs to walk by and catch me in my private moment of weakness. Coincidence is kind to me in this hallway. I should hang out here more often. He offered a kind, enthusiastic peptalk, encouraged me to request the "I", gave me a hug, and then went on his way.
Remember when my Pre-socratics professor was urging me to drop Ethics? If only for that moment this afternoon, I'm so glad I didn't. I'm getting to the point where I know whom I can rely on for support, but the universe hands me gifts like this when I'm trying to play tough and failing.
I'm in the Library now, studying for finals still. But feeling calmer, less desperate and overwhelmed. Maybe I'll go home early and grade a few essays. Maybe I'll be with my kids even though I told them to fend for themselves tonight.
While this semester has been an exercise in enlargening my physical and emotional capacity, I will never take on this size of load, if I can help it, ever again.

Moussaka with Plato

That question you're asked: 

If you could have lunch with any historical figure who would it be and why?


My favorite Republican. The twisted maker of all things perceivable. 

Because I could write this final paper on the first page of Parmenides alone. Could. Might. Too tired to decide tonight. Two days left. My adversary is two-fold: My own scattered focus and my children. This is the hazard of being the cool parent. No one wants to vacate while I work. I can't focus long enough to work. 

Caught myself thinking today that a minor is philosophy enough for me. Nothing else is this hard, and I can't splinter the line quite as eloquently as the marble busted master of ancient Greek prose. Need sleep. Need so much sleep.

Pythodorus, see and tell me what's up. I'll determine whether it's a form of the future I can live with.

Good night.

Monday, April 28, 2014

B— writes poetry for Laura Hamblin

My eight-year-old came to the Intermediate Poetry final with me today. The class arranged the desks in a circle, and round we went, one poem at a time, reading in domino fashion. This is my third semester enjoying this aspect of Laura's class. This time, though, she asked my son to participate. 

"Do you write?" she asked. 
"Yes," he said. 
"Do you have poems you can read for us?" 
"Not here, but I can write some."

And so as the students read, B— wrote these. 
Laura invited him to read at the center of the circle,
and when he was done her eyes were wet with emotion.

"Never take a poetry class," she told him. 
"You are perfect as you are. You understand poetry exactly."

I am not only

Some think they're the only spirit.
Some, they're the only love,
the only eye,
only word.
No, you are not alone,
not ever.


How were we made?
When were we made?
How? When? Where? Why?
It doesn't matter.
We have love.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


L— had this photo on her blog. I'm scrambling through my memory to locate hands that fit inside mine like nesting dolls, the slippery texture of baby-fine golden hair that flowed each morning between my fingers, their bell-pitched voices that split the seams of melancholy every time one of them rang with laughter.

I'm trying to pinpoint the time L— and M— were this small, and I'm sick to death that I'm not lying there between them in the photograph, leeching off their infant warmth, making an imprint of them on either side of myself so that it isn't such a struggle to remember those moments now.

Their childhood has begun to shimmer like a mirage, only there's no way to walk toward it, and each attempt to recall what is past reveals images that are less and less familiar.

The loss of my children's size and shape is a vacancy I am unprepared for, a haunted house below my ribs, like I have eaten some great cavern of dementia, and forgotten that I ever sat down to dine. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Matsuri in the rain

This year, M— spoke to everyone she could in Japanese,
I paid closer attention in the Buddhist temple,
and the rain kept the cosplayers at bay.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mr. PNU's last lecture

Not everyone exists in metaphor. I have lived and breathed code the last four months. Tomorrow is my final transmission. I wish I could interpret better than I do. A phrase in no uncertain terms would be welcome. Hoping has brought me thus far. After class, however, I'll have run short of excuses for flag waving, for the braille being pounded out against my sternum if only his fingers were good for the reading.

My ribcage opens to the cosmos, and I plead. Take my heart out or tell me there is reason to stand in the river and drown in the yearning.

Ethically speaking, I've been so patient.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Before there was something to be missed

M— took me to "Transcendence." The film did not entirely suck. It did however, help me focus on a new record groove of thought for the summer months: all things haunted, memory, the resting place of consciousness, and this guy:

M— and I are researching the Jell-O State's haunted hotspots for exploratory recreation. I'm noting the objects and themes that pull at my brainwaves. I'm telling myself that learning the art of grief and writing the loss (even if what we let go of is our idealism) is an act of transcendent grace. Riding a ghostly orbit. Skirting objects that refuse permanence. Then, I will return to school in the fall to study said guy with a body of psycho-spectral pieces for the offering.

I'm calling it a plan.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dear no one

I'm in a lot of pain tonight. I have no one to tell, so I'm saying it here. The anxiety is choking.

I didn't realize how alone I am until this weekend. I knew that I'd survived last spring on delusion and prayer. Not much has changed. 

I need to go for a walk, cry to myself for a while, then come home and go to bed. How am I even making progress? I find myself in a new place, uncertain if I made the steps to get there.

Life never stops being hard. I am tired of cycling.

Christ contemplates atonement at the helm of the ship

How does one will to rise against this body experience?
From here the way does not seem clear.
We struggle, a family altogether blind, bound
in certain death and blown on a severe current.

I take up the least of God’s issue, and the greater—
brothers and sisters in reflection and all degree of character
—and we hold on. My duty, to keep course, maintain
a mild state of hope, but some are more afraid

to get into the boat than others. The evil is deep.
I have struggles of my own—the weight of tiredness
and potential global loss; difficulties making sense
of this planning even before the suggestion of the other

above self. I have reason to question my ability
to keep my word. But the tremendous history of need
of these lost children; their outcomes more relevant
than all my weaknesses. It is hard to do the heavy act of healing

—to make claim on the demands of their agent bodies,
separate sin from the soul, repair the absurd suffering
of madness to save purpose. Only a mother knows
these unforgiving attempts necessary to give life—entirely

difficult if not impossible. I point this boat of empathy
from captivity to our certain surroundings. I think I can
see the way. By the time it is finished we will arrive as one,
an equal household—all of us justly broken.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Series finale

This has been my family for the last three years. I came on the Happy Valley poetry scene just as they finished their first year of operation. Tonight, I bid my poetry boys adieu. Jack and Kylan are headed off into the world. One to San Fran; the other to Denver. And so the series that Jack started with Connor (now an Iowa grad student) nearly four years ago comes to a close. 

These readings saw me through the darkest days of my last marriage, through a divorce, through a re-entry into college, through academic success in the past year and through challenges. The young men who've hosted are brilliant, and in some way feel like my sons, or maybe my brothers. I will miss them. 

I'm committed to carrying on the tradition, whatever it takes. We'll see if I can find others who feel equally dedicated. Maybe Heather. Maybe Trish. Maybe my dear poetry mom, Laura. Even Rob has offered to pitch in if I schedule him in the fall. There's no lack of voice in the valley.

It was agreed, however, that tonight spelled the beginning of rest for those regulars in attendance. And because I understand rest to be a deceptive cover for gearing up to handle whatever comes next, I take my departing comfort in the calm that accompanied me on exiting the Coffee Shop as "poet" for the final time this spring.

God speaks for Himself, for Lehi, and for Kant

Some might be bothered that I could be
interpreted as confusing. But I am

the problem of space and time restrictions.
The I AM nomenclature limited

by empirical objects, the "ought." There is
no reflection; no "we" in the suggestion.

What can a moral God do? The obvious:
more and less. I weaken infinite ability,

advocating the cultivated struggle
of a covenant demographic, creating types,

a history of "oughts," and certain kinds
of misguided mental tasks, however I must

to mitigate my children's agency, to get them
to safety. I hold this responsibility—

the commitment to opposition. That is
my reason. That is my end.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fixation happens

Two more weeks.
Friday I was ready for it to be over.
Tonight I'm not.

I'm wearing the moon on my bloody sleeve.
T-shirts and ethics forever.
Or at least into the warm summer nights that bleed
over Spring semester into something more.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


One could say that I would not be where I am today without Mr. PNU. That would in no way stretch the truth. So when I write a letter and say, "Mr. PNU's class changed my life" because that's what needs to be said to get the job done, I wish he wouldn't call it hyperbole. 

Big egos are born of a fragile sense of inadequacy. I know lots of them. I spend twenty minutes with one every morning while she does her hair and puts on her makeup. 

This is the second most important letter I've ever written. Somehow I think the First Presidency wasn't looking for the sparkle I put on the first most important letter. Hopefully the Pie Tin hiring committee will see the glimmer of truth radiating from this one. I've worked very hard to get it to where it shines.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What the Mountain has to offer...

I had a bad day. I don't want to talk about it, and I do.
There are places we belong and places we don't.
I'm discouraged. The weather told me to walk it off.
The only problem was that I had to come back.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Disabled Reason's second attempt at writing a letter

Friend, I give my word
I am only just writing,
radically constrained by the faces,
the contempt. How they stare
because the saintly way exists
in me. I am full of phenomenon,
and they see. See all the weight
of the second notion of roots?
How the body does not break?
I blame it on the rough calculation—
the causes and the literal two-word
continuum I am writing.
We are not limited by relevant history.
The real elements further the purposes
of the irrelevant interpretation,
the labor of children born—
brothers and sisters. We are all related.
The literal hold of the body
of the household, all in the family way,
and we point to the heavy spots.
What is write, Friend? I am writing
this bit of soul making. The attempts
not limited to ends of existence,
to flaws that want to leave, I am locked
in impossible outcomes. You struggle
against the severe forces of sin.
I see you. I see. Powerful reflection,
Friend. It is as I say.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Revelation and yellow journalism

In the North Country, at the LDS University-Tundra, I began a stint in journalism. It lasted about three years. I worked professionally in the media industry for one of those years. And then, for a number of reasons, I left the business with a terrible taste in my mouth.

I don't like the media. You can mark my words, journalism only comes in one color—yellow.

So as I'm navigating the Pie Tin amidst writers and philosophers, I'm wandering a hotpot of opinion over recent events in LDS culture fueled by biased reports. I've openly spoken up a couple of times now. But it's interesting, because people on both sides seem surprised by my point of view, which is perfectly perched on a fence between hardcore "women will never hold the priesthood" Mormons and those who are invested in the notion that there must be female ordination for the Church to have equality. Yesterday, I dreaded setting foot on campus, knowing discussion would be heated. I avoided everyone. Today, even when I didn't mean to, somehow I got tied up in conversations that gravitated in the priesthood direction. I held my own and managed not to lose my friends, but I know several of them are befuddled.

Both sides are throwing misguided information around stirred up by media and PR. Can I say right here and now how much I wish I could describe to everyone the middle ground that isn't being represented? OW misrepresents themselves and the Church. Church PR misrepresents OW and the actions of the Church. There is no truth coming from the voices in the battlefield.

I hate this. I hate that I've gone over Elder Oaks' talk, carefully listening for wording and the possibilities presented, and that the OW supporters call it patronizing, purposefully vague, and accuse him of rehashing arguments that it just doesn't. I hate that Church PR paints the OW action on Saturday as aggressive and as "protest." I hate that I know OW members, some very prominent, who are only involved in this movement for the potential power and notoriety; not because they have any sort of testimony in the truthfulness of the gospel. I hate that so many "righteous" members of the Church show these women nothing be vehement disdain and hateful intolerance for their action.

These questions being asked need to be asked. Clarification of doctrine is essential. Continued light and knowledge is vital to spiritual development. Eradication of the sexism endemic to this culture is outright necessity. The bickering is getting us nowhere. Misrepresentation of this weekend's outcome is not positive on any count. Expectation that one's desires and attitudes are correct (I'm speaking about both sides.) instead of humbly asking and heeding when direction is given (BOTH sides) only exacerbates the schism in the culture. There CAN'T be equality when this sort of pride dominates the religious landscape. 

And so, I'm living in Happy Valley, and it's like something out of the Book of Mormon. Even though I'm still not convinced the Joseph Smith didn't dictate all 513 pages during a psychotic episode, because my other bone that needs picking is stigma preached from the pulpit. I think God actually CAN use the mentally ill to further his purposes if that's what is needed to have a recipient for revelation. "Or" is the wrong conjunction. We may very well be lead by prophets AND madmen, and I'm perfectly content to accept that if the gospel is truth, the Lord would transmit it to his children through his mouthpiece if either were the case.

Ah, Mr. Mavrodes, this is a queer, queer world, God or no. Tonight, I'm camping with the former where a month ago I would not. How weird is that?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hefting burdens

We've been sick lately. A lot. Two weeks straight of somebody with a fever, puking, a headache, a sore throat, earaches. Yeah, something. My turn started Wednesday. I'd pulled a 72 hour consciousness stint to write a couple of big papers, and in the end I ended up with cluster migraines that took me out for most of the remainder of the week. Thursday morning I couldn't move to get B— ready for school in the morning. When he woke and found he'd missed the bus because I was in so much pain he leaned over me gently, stroked my face, and whispered:

"I wish that not just Jesus could take our pains away. I wish I could do it too for the people I love. I think it would make Heavenly Father happy that I want to do this. I just love you so much. I want to take your pain away."

I laid there for the rest of the day, still in pain, but aware that my youngest son is finally ready for baptism.

At the end of a peace-granting Conference weekend, I realize these principles are what my faith is based upon, and they are what will carry me through the sticky corners of loving people who aren't firmly in the faith camp. I believe in Christ. I love him. And therefore, although I do anyway, I will love and care for the people who enter my awareness bubble with as much compassion and tenderness as I think he exemplified. 

I'm not really on a fence, and Christ's club isn't exclusive. I'm not about to shut doors on people that are knocking, when I have the keys of service and a covenant to bear burdens. I think B—'s a wonderful example of that commitment, even if the symbology hasn't yet been applied. Christ's atoning blood covers us all. We choose how deeply we'll be immersed.