poetry


Who is this god beside me in the cool green
garden shadows, this moss maker, leaf breaker,
slow chipper of stones who pools the rain in the
niche places, causes the flowers to raise weary
heads to the sun; this gentle, quiet god of
tiny miracles and mundane wonders who
we take for granted as surely as we take
the breath in our lungs and at our lips?

Is it the same Power and Glory who causes
leaves to glisten in the sun and dance softly
on the air? Thundering and booming, the
poltergeists of the air know this god’s name
but do not reveal their secrets to the unworthy.
They merely light the way for the rain this god of
little things wears so well: earth sifter, root maker,
creeper through the new grass, safe and hidden.

—PJ Thompson

You

are the most important person in the world
no matter who, no matter where
You
matter more than anything.
And you, and you, and you.
You
are a world of dark and light,
of stories infinite and particular
that no one else can remember and tell.
You
see the light in the way only
You
can see it, and smell the fragrances
of times past, uniquely your own,
speaking your truth, hands flying before
You,
the conjuring birds of storytime.
You
are everything to us, and we to
You.
We need each other in countless ways.
We can’t afford to lose
You,
You
can’t afford to lose us, each flower
picked before its time, a blossom
that will never grow again,
a world full and bursting that is only
You.

—PJ Thompson

The Descent to Human

The soul descends, the Kabbalah says:
the Tree of Life has roots in Heaven
while the branches hang like a willow bends
trailing green into the torrent of living.
In growing down, the lessons flower,
experience buds on each new limb,
and with this learning, bud on bud,
we know what it is to be truly human.

The soul descends, the Kabbalah says.
It does not rise on angel’s wings
hoary with light and tipped with music,
but wallows below in the muck and the mire.
In human necessity, our virtue grows:
transcendence is claimed only at bedrock.
In being ourselves, both dark and light,
in humanity, and humility, we ascend again.

—PJ Thompson

Dead Man’s Zen

My dead friend wrote in the margin of my book:
“Nothing’s your fault, and you are responsible
for all of it. Maturity.”

The wolf stared at me and I got scared.
I cried, thinking my time was gone,
but time still ticked in my heart.
Time was not my problem.
What to do with time was my problem:
how to use it well, how to be used by it
and not mind so much.

The wolf still stares,
hungry, unapologetic, bluntly assessing
whether my tottering legs can outrun it.

But wolves aren’t hungry only for flesh.
Often it is for honesty:
sifting, weighing, natural selection.
They want authority and submission,
a leader to follow, or a pack to follow them,
arranged alphabetically.
They do not accept excuses,
or acquiesce with lies and self-delusion.
Their gleaming eyes know fraud,
and seek out weakness.
They hamstring the liars,
bring them to the ground
to meticulously devour pretensions.

Nothing’s your fault.
You are responsible for all of it.
Maturity.

Dead man’s in his Heaven,
I’m here with the wolves.
Be straight with yourself—
and get to work.

—PJ Thompson

Random quote of the day:

“Poetry began when somebody walked off a savanna or out of a cave and looked up at the sky with wonder and said, “Ah-hh!” That was the first poem.”

—Lucille Clifton, interview, The Language of Life by Bill Moyers

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

The things you want most to say
about aging bodies
are not the things the world
wants to hear.
The world doesn’t want to hear
about aging bodies at all
because
they might catch it,
some existential communicable disease
to which they have carefully
built immunity.

They are never going to grow old
because
their karma doesn’t stink,
they have always thought positive
thoughts,
taken good care of themselves,
eaten all the right things,
exercised daily,
shunned all the things
they were supposed to have
shunned
(but only in the most positive way).

How could they possibly grow old
unless
some evil-minded troll
foisted
it upon them?

How could they possibly grow old and
die?
How could they possibly
die?
How could they?
How could they
possibly?

Nehalennia

So much is lost, so much unknown.
You bear the fruit, you pet the dog,
you sit in silence, enthroned.
But unknown.

We parse together messages from air,
from goddesses who have come before,
but your secrets are yours alone.
And unknown.

Perched on the edge of the sea, your temple
reclaimed by water, and frail memory
washed away, into the rising foam.
You are unknown.

Yet your truths persist, in hearts and myth,
attributed elsewhere but living still.
Deep in the psyche and in the bone
You are still known.

—PJ Thompson

Well, this Musings post is grossly long, and maybe a bit dated, but I started throwing things into the file, then got caught up in the holidays—and God forbid anyone should be deprived of my Musings. [insert barf emoji] At least it has a lot of pictures.

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One of my most profound mystical experiences, or contact with the numinous, was invoked by a dead cat. It changed me from near-atheist to “oh I get it now.” Thank you, Mocha. The Mocha Hierophany.

Mocha, an old soul from the 80s:

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New Year’s Day sunset: Even enhancing the color on this doesn’t come close to the intensity of the light. Nothing ever beats Nature. Thank you, Nature.

The same sky from my friend who lives a few miles from here. This one captures the immensity of the sky better than mine did, how the clouds seemed to go on forever.

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Here’s a question for you: is poetry a purely mammalian response to the world? Is magic? Would intelligent and highly advanced reptiles, for instance, have that sense of wonder and awe and poetry? I don’t want to be Mammalian-Centric.

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I always think of the four of swords as the “rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” card. (Yes, dad jokes help me remember the meanings.)

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A few days before the new year (December 30th) I found out that I share blood with one of the accused Salem witches (Mary Leach Ireson). We’re descended from the same ancestor (Richard Leech) through the brother (Lawrence Leech) of my direct ancestor (Thomas Leech). Maybe that’s why I’ve always been obsessed with these trials. I particularly like the “maybe you were a witch but didn’t know it” line of questioning. Apparently, the “maybe I’m a witch but didn’t know it” defense worked because she wasn’t executed and lived until 1711.


As I’ve said before, women rarely appear in the historical record unless they’ve suffered some trauma.

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I have so much work to do and a limited amount of time. But time is not my enemy. If I focus on what needs to be done, not allowing myself to be distracted, I will do what I need to do. The only reason I say it isn’t against me is because I will do what I can do. If time runs out, then it does. It will eventually anyway so why so sweat it?

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You know that weird stuff you have to clear from your parents or grandparents’ homes when they pass? When you reach a certain age you can’t be arsed about good taste. Sometimes you just want stuff that makes you giggle or because you know it will chagrin some of the people who inherit it.

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I finally got my Red Book set up so that people can actually see it instead of being hidden away in a room they can’t go in.

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Last month I pulled my novel Venus In Transit out of the trunk. I started working on it in 1999. It was inspired by Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality and later given shape and spin by George P. Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal. Plus all those thousands and thousands of paranormal shows I’ve watched over the years and many another paranormal book. I had the novel in a fairly polished state and was getting ready to start marketing it when my mother had a stroke and my world went all to hell for several years. Then there was the very long and painful writer’s block afterwards.

Things started to loosen up for me artistically after watching season one of Hellier last year—and that’s when I had my Hellier related synchronicity storm. Which let me know I was on the right track creatively. I finished one novel this summer and started working on another. Then Hellier Season 2 came along. It fed my head yet again, and there was something about the discussion in that series of pushing through frustration that reminded me of the artistic process.

Whenever an artist, or at least any artist I know, reaches a point of frustration it’s often the sign of imminent breakthrough to a new way of doing things. Pushing through that frustration is a vital part of the process. So I got out that old paranormal novel with an idea to see if it really was ready to market and I fell into a hole with it for about a week. That edit is done, but when I got to the part in the story where my investigator discovers strange, small, three-toed footprints with dermal ridges, I thought, “No one will ever believe I didn’t get this from Hellier.” But those are the breaks. Hellier2 did encourage me to pull it back out of the trunk and that’s got to be a good thing.

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Hellier is beautifully shot and edited. I remember when the granddaddy of paranormal shows, Ghost Hunters, premiered. They used that cinema vérité style which gave a feel of credibility (and because it was cheap to produce), but imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Most of what’s come since has been crap.

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My life is a lot better since I’ve given up trying to find ultimate answers. I’m more content trying to find ultimate questions.

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Well, I got within 100 pages of finishing Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson but my medieval porn book arrived so…sorry Neal.

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Cats exist simultaneously in this time/space and in hyperspace which is why they always seem to take up a vastly greater amount of space than their physical bodies would imply.

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I’ve been to both Disneyland and the “Disneyland of Cemeteries”—Forest Lawn—and I would choose to spend my eternity in neither of them. (Talk about terrifying!)

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Lt. Col. Vindman during the impeachment hearings reading that paragraph to his dad and talking about it? “Don’t worry. This is America. We do what’s right here.” We have to justify his faith in this country. It’s been what was true in the past and we can’t let it fall away. DO THE RIGHT THING, AMERICA. And Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi talking to Vindman about the pride of being an immigrant and being an American? Yep, that’s the essence of what this country it’s always been.

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