like you, I’ve been thinking

“Seamen are… to be numbred neither with the living nor the dead,” explained a minister familiar with the dangers of life at sea; sailors’ “lives [hang] continually in suspence before them.” Marcus Rediker / Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

As far as I know is a curious phrase, linking distance and knowledge, but one which is still used and accepted, as far as I know. Here I simply suggest that by invoking the phrase a legal position is being taken.

How long does a ball tossed straight up into the air hang motionless at the top of its ascent before starting to fall back down? The answer will terrify you.

Well, maybe terrify isn’t the right word. Haunt? No, not haunt. I just don’t have the energy to back up those claims today. I didn’t get much sleep last night. Like you, I’ve been thinking, tossing and turning, experiencing a growing sense of unease: What is that ball doing and how long has it been doing it?

Those who speak math say that no time at all elapses while the ball hangs suspended between going up and coming down, no time at all, due to how the calculus of limits works. Those who speak physics point out that a ball is a bundle of quantum freedoms and indeterminancies and that there’s no one motion that describes the bundle as a whole.

That’s what I was afraid of, things not being what they seemed.


the sandpainting river

In formal contexts, continually should be used to mean “very often; at regular or frequent intervals,” and continuously to mean “unceasingly; constantly; without interruption.”

Not just the sandy bottom,
continuously rearranged by the currents,
but the river itself is a sandpainting,
made of crystal clear, vanishingly small grains
tumbling from form to form
from erasure to erasure
in a way difficult for our freeze-frame words to describe

you too
are what you are


a personal relationship with life

“…thus neither can it be known by the human mind, since the possibility of being constructed is prior to the possibility of being known: nor can it be known by the Omniscient Mind by a simple eternal act: because by its nature it is among unknowable things.” (Johannes Kepler / Harmony of the World)

The world came knocking but nobody was home. The world, though, doesn’t take no for an answer and keeps knocking, keeps insisting that it’s here. What finally convinced me, as far as I remember, was a color (that I now think was a bird) of the purest red-orange, a color that I could vividly taste.

Even today the sight of a cardinal will, on the rare occasion, prompt some lobe or another in my brain to produce that same concentrated, bittersweet, phantom taste, courtesy of synesthesia, courtesy of the sandpainting called life.

storms form

“Why shouldn’t we”, they ask.
“We’re possible. That’s all the invitation we need.”

“It’s the same for you”, they say.
“You can be and so you’re here.”

“Everything that can be is.”


skip rope rhyme

star berries
hearts of the sky

sun on a sidewalk
red birds who fly


the psychiatrist & the smoke charmers

Beings in a dark, dank lair
with twisted strings of long, lank hair,
with cobra-colored minds of stone,
blindly playing flutes of bone,
charm copper snakes and smoke cyclones
into swaying / sashaying,
above the sawing teeth of a silver fire.

This is the origin of your thoughts. This is why they seem to wander.


4th moon in a row

I’ve reached the edge of the dream, my toes just barely skimming the surface, preparing for final descent. Do you still read? Over. (static) Thought is breaking up, language breaking down, sentences uncoupling like trains, words unloading their cargo of meaning and speeding away as naked sound.


hollow be thy name

Making deals with the devil never turns out well. I’m surprised the Evangelicals aren’t aware of that.

The courier ocean, exhausted after traveling thousands of miles, collapses on the shore, letting a bottle roll from its hand. The note inside the bottle – this note, in fact – has long since forgotten its message.

“Generally speaking, what does it mean, no longer being able to think a certain thought?” The Order of Things / Michel Foucault

Loose pieces of water wandered absentmindedly here and there, in directions that normally aren’t even allowed to be gone in, indicating the country’s river was disconnecting with itself, dissolving back into tribes and tributaries. The sky, or whatever was in its place, was the wrong size, and despite there being a skeletal sun, the afternoon was flickering off and on. People generally stayed indoors where the smallness was a balm to their minds, vacantly listening to the king’s brutal torture of truth, his drumming insistence that afternoon was fake.

And so it was that the idea of afternoon was uprooted from many people’s minds. It still filled their eyes, to be sure, but found no welcome in their brains.

When the sharing of an afternoon, one of the most ancient and most binding of human ceremonies, is rendered meaningless, society begins unraveling, but when the sharing of a reality, the most important of human ceremonies, bites the dust, that’s when the wheels come off.


Our greatest liability, the sunspots on our intelligence, is our psychological susceptibility to the messaging of demagogues (or worse).

Our greatest freedom, such as it is, lies in our awareness of our liabilities and limitations. Investigating these limitations, by definition, takes us outside of them, i.e., beyond them.

You can leave room but you can’t leave space, although space is so comfortably conformable to our bodies I don’t know why you’d want to leave in the first place. I mean, there’s never been an instance that I’m aware of where space has been other than perfectly amenable to our shapes and motions. We are space, is why, and space doesn’t hinder itself, to paraphrase Dogen.

What Eihei Dogen, the 11th century Japanese Zen monk, actually said in his essay (or fascicle) Uji was “See each thing in this entire world as a moment of time. Things do not hinder one another, just as moments do not hinder one another.”

Being-Time by Shinshu Roberts is a wonderfully clear new study of Shobogenzo Uji and of Dogen’s thought in general.

(for Lily)

Some words, like bone, are solid and known, while others are as elusive as a scent, words that sleep with many meanings but are attached to none of them, unfathomable words that seep from the walls of subterranean caves deep within our brains, cryptic ur-poems of painful journeys and transmigrations, at long last emerging meaningful and whole into this sunlit world of ours, names inseparable from what they convey, inseparable as you and the lilies of the field, or as heat from the blue, ice-cold heart of a flame.

“Painting plum-blossom is like judging horses,
It is done by bone structure, not by appearance.”

Jiang Deli

Particle: a bead-like bundle of frequency
Frequency: the skeleton of a particle
Bead: a curling wave
Wave: a breathing of numbers


“They put earrings on crocodiles.” / Roberto Calasso

A sunlight.
A boat overturned.

The Nile looks the other way
having business elsewhere.

A drowning mathematician divines
the slope of an oval pearl.


“As the time right now is all the time there ever is…” / Dogen

Everything’s in outer space, including us and our little sky.

Shadows cross a sundial yard
years in pieces come apart
summer grapes winter stars
fall hard work raking shadows

Dance and sing. Paint plum blossoms. Make earrings of echoes.
Practice some form of mindfulness.

Stars are feeling their way into the apartment through the window. Precious little is known about the interaction between starlight and mirrors. Is it simply a coincidence that it was a reflecting telescope with a huge mirror through which Hubble detected the galactic redshift indicating that the universe is expanding? Or was it because of the concentration of starlight in the telescope’s mirror that the universe started expanding in the first place? All we really have to go on is which is the most likely scenario?

Throughout the night, while Mr. X dreams of tomorrow’s experiment, thousands of stars message mirror to mirror in an emerging network that includes more and more information, information including the changing paths and angles starlight has taken in approaching the mirrors from the wheeling heavens, information including time differentials and spatial configurations of the living room, information including, at last, everything. So the room becomes a 3-D mirror, marbled and singular, watching itself intently.

Has this really occurred? Occurred here in this world, that is, not in Mr. X’s dream world? Where does one world end and the other begin?

And what would a mirror look like in a 3-D mirror?

You don’t want to start thinking about that.

(background check)

A shift in the spectral lines of an object towards longer wavelengths, caused by the object’s movement away from the viewer, is called redshift. A shift in the spectral lines of an object towards shorter wavelengths, caused by the object’s movement towards the viewer, is called blueshift.

Simplifying, a retreating blue bird is a red bird, as red as the plume of a retreating comet. An approaching red bird is a blue bird, flying under the radar. Color is not an intrinsic property of an object. And color, i.e. the frequency of light, is independent of light’s speed, which is constant.

Per Einstein and Minkowski nothing can travel at light speed through space except light, but all objects are always traveling through spacetime at the speed of light. This motion may be purely through space or purely through time or shared between the two, but the combined speed through space and time always equals the speed of light. A bird on a wire, observed from the chair on your front porch, has no spatial component to its motion, it moves purely through time with respect to you. But when the bird flies off, part of its motion through time is diverted into motion through space, and then the bird moves more slowly through time. Time for the bird dilates with respect to you, a very small but measurable amount. This ultimately leads to the conclusion that time doesn’t exist for a photon*.

*A photon always moves at the speed of light. If it doesn’t, it’s not a photon. Often it’s stipulated that light must be moving through a vacuum to maintain light speed, this because light apparently slows down when moving through glass or water or other materials, but this ignores how photons work. When a photon engages an atom in a molecule of glass, say, the photon gives itself away, gives its energy to the atom. The atom in the glass molecule, in turn, now wide awake and extra energized, spits out a photon which then moves on at the speed of light, forever or until it encounters another molecule, of glass, say. This begs the question of where one photon ends and the next begins. Or does one actually ever begin or end?

Not for the first time a kaleidoscope of tumbling shapes startles Mr. X as he closes his apartment door on the world, but once the door is fully closed the avalanche of forms resolves into a full-length mirror attached to the door, rendering the room faithfully.

And not for the first time Mr. X compares his hand to its mirror image, attempting to detect any difference in color, trying to determine if the somehow definite-yet-indefinite silverness of the mirror produces slightly silver offspring.

At last Mr. X is prepared to launch a full investigation into the matter. He arranges a series of mirrors, hundreds of mirrors, an installation that fills the room, ready to reflect and re-reflect the patch of blue sky that promises to appear in the window tomorrow morning, to see, at the end of the line, if the blue is degraded, or even completely buried under layers of silver sand.