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Category: Freewrites

Pure Love Give Away

Pure Love Give Away

We can no longer
sustain this gambol
It has burned through

Our Pure Love stores–such as they are–
we now offer for free
Our Pure Love stocks, bonds, and futures–come what may–
we toss like candy from fire trucks on Main Street in the clear sunlight of a July 4th parade

Pure Love for free
Pure Love for free
Insofar as we can

Dear God
Where’s this Pure Love
that would transform us?
We can’t remember anything
except catechisms and formulas
the gray windy dropletting fog day
neverminded all our ambitions
We were in the wrong?
Outside the heart?
Beyond the mind?
Forgetful of the center?

If Pure Love could overtake
could win could guide could show the way
What would that feel like?

I used to wander along the edges of a tidal pool salty cool lapping through granite smoothed round but still sandpapery. The shaggy brown star-fingered poppy-sac seaweed swooshed in and out with the tumbling water as it filled a little depression and then retreated, leaving just a wet curvature, then returned and once again overtook. I used to wander along the edges where the sun traced every stone, every sparklesand, the dark bluegreen water and the tips that glinted the light. Now I wait for salvation, exiled by something wrong within a poem we tried to write. We’d wanted a way out. Out of everything except the gentle edge of a gentle beach beside a gentle sea; and some kind of violent grownup love. Which longing was the more selfish? Which input the more disastrous? To hold forever to the quiet safety of a a childhood moment long before you’re called back into the blanket, spraydown, walk-in-small-barefeet along the hot sand, over the low, white, rough concrete boundary wall, onto the hot blackfadetogray pebbly parking lot, and upon a damp towel in the hot-and-sticky plastic-and-vinyl car? Or to wail desperate-dog for a corresponding shape that would somehow touch right through to heart/mind?

It doesn’t matter. For a hundred years we’ll now ride the ridges, in the high thin mountain air, our long-legged Landstriders tossing themselves and their small helpless riders through the purpley blue splashed on one side with reddening yellow, on the other with bleeding black, and swirled all through with puffy curdling strafing white. It doesn’t matter. We’re tired again; tired like children falling asleep against a hot sharp tight-weave polyester seatbelt and into a sticky blue, diner-vinyl seatback, our exhausted, sun-enriched little hands instinctively sliding away from the superheated metal buckle. Yes, we’re tired; we’ll let the monsters have their say while we slip away. Does that make us monsters too? And are we even allowed a return to innocence, into sleeping dead away like a fallen tree?

Our Pure Love factories, mills, farms, forests, fisheries, wells, and the like: all abandoned. The pitter patter of Pure Love marketers, brandsters, production and logistics managers: all turned to sudden dust and swept up and away by a lightly cycloning breeze. The Pure Love we leave behind, free for the taking. If, that is to say, we managed to build, grow, harvest, or mine any. Ah well, let it ride, let us ride into the cool collapsing day. We weren’t able to figure it out; couldn’t make sense of it; could find no good response to this thing called life. And so we leave, not life, but the living; not friendship, but the fray; not love, but purpose; for purpose we have none, nor can we get one, given what we’ve become, tiny puppets vaguely representing mythical children’s tales, fleeing the scene on the backs of long-legged, round torsoed, giant-eared steeds from a movie we half-recall from a world that must’ve somehow been though now it clearly isn’t.

Will looters come for the Pure Love?
No point. It goes everywhere and nowhere of Its own flawless accord.
Will hoarders fill their basements with It? Stack It around their bed, into the hallway, kitchen, dining room, living room, leaving only a narrow bath from bed to fridge to toilet to door?
Again: no point: It is already in all those places and more.

Farewell mighty halls of industry.
Farewell clacking typewriters, and clanking presses.
Farewell grand champagne speeches overlooking well-groomed smiles draped in black tuxes, exquisite rolling-flowing dresses, plush red carpet,

And so they disappeared, BW & AW, they quit the scene; you can’t sell Pure Love; no one can, not even the elastically spinning Bartleby Willard of the explosively poignant Wandering Albatross Press.

Author: BW
Editor: AMW

Next Steps: Now that we’ve agreed on the undoubtable values

Next Steps: Now that we’ve agreed on the undoubtable values

We agreed that any pattern of thought and action that refuses to ever sacrifice universal values like awareness, clarity, honesty, accuracy, competence, kindness, shared joy, and equality within the Love; we agreed that any such sacrifice would steer human thought/feeling/actions into places that were not meaningful, interesting, understandable, or standable to human beings.

We agreed that corruption is a mistake and that it is the state of affairs in which impulses not guided by the universal values rule the moment, and that corruption can overtake an individual human being or a group of human beings, and that corruption–like all human things–is a thing of degree.

After that I don’t know: did we agree on anything more?

I guess we didn’t, because you sided with what I think is cruel and stupid.

So what now?

I’m asking you, because I can’t figure this out all alone.

Something Deeperism and the Political moment

Something Deeperism and the Political moment

Who is no good?

Why are they no good?
The Fates!

What is worth persevering?
Awareness, clarity, honesty, competence, kindness, shared creative fun joy.

What is good for everyone?
Wise, coherent, careful, fair rules and enforcement.

How is that better rather than worse achieved?
A bureaucracy empowered by and beholden to a people committed to life, liberty, justice, and real joy for all.

How can we move away from folly and towards wisdom?
I don’t know. What do you think?

Author: Darren Doug Troubled

The Love I’m looking for

The Love I’m looking for

In these times, in these days, towards the middle, as the game shifts so childhood lasts forever; a man wakes up alone in his poorly managed bedding, admitting he’s in the wrong but doesn’t know what that even means, let alone what’s to be done.

In these times, with the way things are going, understanding that no one is wise but many are idiotic and a few are closer to correct; a man gets into his 40s feeling it’s perhaps too late now, perhaps uncorrectable now, perhaps heading to where it must now stupidly go, whatever effort he might yet muster.

What’s the error we wear? Who’s fault is this?
The only thing that actually exists is God shining through all these shifting sands.
So why so much nonsense?

People are made of shampoo and flakes of dead sin, skin, kin, and embarrassing kilns. People are made to order by the spinning world-machines. People are made to cry by losses they had to know were always coming. People are mad weird.

What is a good decision? How do we get better?
I’m worried, mad worried.

The Boys in their hood, lost like cobra eyes, sneaking where they had to be caught by the flyswat, so what the fuck what the fuck where they even thinking?

USA For Africa

USA For Africa

March 7, 1985
And then all year on TV
All our pop stars were there–about half white and half black.
They were singing to raise money for Africa.
It was a nice idea, a beautiful song masterfully done, an inspiring studio video. And it did raise some money to help some people in Africa, which at that time seemed hopelessly impoverished to eight year olds in Lawrence Park outside Erie next to Lake Erie across from Ontario.
That’s where we thought we were growing up: in USA for Africa and That’s What Friends Are For.
Weren’t we?
Isn’t it one of the places we grew up in?
Now the rest of the world is coming on stronger, free markets, refrigerators, cars and pop stars abound. Plus there’s the internet, where people everywhere upload their notions.
Meanwhile our political climate has fallen apart and our societal fabric strained, limbo-ing us mighty patriots and our nuclear arsenal, which I’m proud to say is still quite capable of destroying I don’t know how many trillions of living things–including, for example, all of us.
It will all work out I guess.
Now it is 7:03.
It does no good to whine.



A soul trapped in a mind with no vision
a heart with no scope

A nation lost in a funk with no laughter
a burp with no end.

In our cages like monkeys there for experiment.
In our living rooms like kings there in luxe.
Watching people make the moves, fight the fights, find the words, tackle the love, hit all the notes that we’d like to.
Waiting for the weekend to end and work to corner us again.

In the wrong somehow
Sullied it seems
By forces we’ve not adequately defined or resisted, no matter how sure we sometimes are of ourselves.


Innocent through it all by virtue of our round-eyed wonder; by virtue of how we’ll never leave the brown shag rug of the redbrick rowhouse where early morning cartoons My Little Pony Jabberjaw those years your mother treasured when she was young and her family was too; by virtue of your inability to understand the wide creek, the cement bridge undergirded by two steel I-beams, the fallen creek-crossing trees with criss-crossing thick-ridged lightbrown bark and branches sticking every which way, the slabs of rough offwhite concrete worn raw so the gray pebbles show everywhere; by virtue of bodies and minds living east of Eden while souls stay forever eating from the Tree of Knowledge, becoming more and more overawed and grateful.

These times are running through my fingers while I sit with my feet up on a sofa I would’ve never got around to buying on my own, but which I now enjoy all by lonesome. What to make of this? Clearly there is a path more worthy than freewriting bored and desperate on MLK Jr day at 6:27PM.

What to do about sexuality? Ignore it and it takes you down. Indulge in it and it takes you down. Fight it and you become a hypocrite for a little bit before it takes you down. I think you’re sick in the stomach or the head. Maybe we should carry you out of your car and lay you down on the soft dark green grass by the road.

Movies books and all that form a dialogue with a time and evolve together. Greater works speak at a fundamentaler level and so are timelesser. I’m just killing time, which is another way of saying waiting to die. Surely we can do better than this. Surely we should


A Consistent Evil

A Consistent Evil

Walking, hand in hand, through the tall grasses, beneath clear blue sky so fresh and soft with a dollop of muggy fun where the bees buzz the grasshopper thwack the dragonflies purr and you and laugh.

Ah the lives we’ve had!

The tiger circles his tail.
The flamingo folds down like a jackknife standing on one leg in the artificial pond.
A penguin fluffs and shakes with, opening and tucking back her little razorblade wings, stunning in her black tux.

I bought the tickets. You ate the popcorn. No one said a thing.

These days, as ominous gray storm clouds come to roost all around our castle, I squeeze your hand and you look up, slouch your shoulders a little backward, pout your lips a little forward. I guess you should’ve been a rock star with moody creative outbursts and loyal fans, but you spent your youth picking daffodils by the pond’s edge, with that grumpy old swan sailing suspiciously and superciliously by, curling his black flippers in the tepid water.

Who’s to blame for the stolen decades?

We’ll start a planetarium and offer free lectures every Thursday. We’ll build a forge and turn disadvantaged youths into master blacksmiths. We’ll forage the oceans, removing all plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and even suck up the chemical spills. We’ll make something out of this yet!

A (Failed) Story of God’s Eternal Love

A (Failed) Story of God’s Eternal Love

The LORD God walked in the Garden, dreamy musculature in a thin white open-collar button-up, hands in grey tweed slacks, whistling an easy tune.
He hears a rustling in the sumptuous foliage and, craning his neck with a curious cockeye, discovers The Man hiding behind a mighty cedar tree.
So The LORD God said to The Man: “Hey! Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?”
And The Man, long broad hand over his puny mortal genitalia, stepped forward into the golden sunshine filtering through great trees not seen on this world since the time of the Giants, saying, “Well, The Woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
Then, from behind the shadeful cedar came a high-pitched, “Hey!” and out stepped The Woman, an arm across her ample breasts, a hand in the diamond center of her wide, world-populating hips. But, under a narrowing of The LORD God’s bewitching blue eyes and his steady-on “What is this that thou hast done?”, she lowered her eyes and, with a softer deeper voice said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

Oh now they’ve done and gone it!
Might as well get matching “Shoot Me, Please!” target T-shirts.

And so The strong-jawed enchantingly-wry-mouthed LORD God of gleaming white teeth, beefcake hands on solid hips, doled out appropriate reprimands:
The tempter Snake should wriggle forever in the dust and an enmity should arise between him and the dupes, The Woman’s childbirth pains would have to be considerably increased and her free agency seriously curbed: “in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” And for The Man: “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, very specifically, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

But what is this strange aside?
And most strange of all: why let us in on it?
I mean this: Directly after sewing several cute matching outfits for occasions from formal to casual and sporty to labory–complete with coordinated footwear–, and directly before driving The Man out of Eden (letting his clingy baby doll follow after him) and placing at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life, The LORD God makes the following statement: “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:” Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Are we supposed to know how close we got to being a God? And who is this “us”? Wasn’t there supposed to just be the one God? Or is it that The LORD God is more like a demigod, and the one God too infinite and pre-body/mind to flaneur gardens? Was this an unguarded moment from The LORD God, or a calculated hint to keep us in the game through century upon century slogging through the mud and crumbling with the dust? I don’t think any of us could countenance the argument that The LORD God spoke to deceive us poor, already woefully uninformed mortal worms; No, that can’t be it!

Be that as it may, The Man started calling himself “Adam”, and he dubbed his chick “Eve”, because she was the mother of all living, and because in the witching hour, as the dark swallows every ambition and blind naked poking longing climbs forward, stripped of all but its most basic outlook, a certain vampishness can improve the mood and grease Necessity playfully along.

No, no luck.
Not a story of God’s eternal love, just a silly riff on the Tree of Knowledge story.


What Can We Say 1 & 2

What Can We Say 1 & 2


What strange times! What can we say?

Let’s start with what we all can agree on and go from there.

Example 1: Let’s demand aware clear honest thought searching for truly better ways of thinking and acting, with the whole process guard-railed by the understanding that to the degree we do not prioritize sharing kind joy we are going in the wrong direction. Any human dogma that fails to accept that principle (not so much those words, nor even those concepts, but the inner-senses-of-things they imperfectly but not therefore necessarily inadequately point towards) is meaningless/boring/not-believable to human minds and hearts. So to the degree one abandons it, one disappears from the conscious moment and becomes an amoeba, pushed around by whims that rise up, as whims always will, declaring themselves, as is their spurty want, great Truths. Much wiser to keep working to better and better center oneself around the Truth–deeper and wider than human ideas, and thus not liable to literal/definitive descriptions, but not therefore completely severed from human ideas (think of how a good poem can, when read with an open mind/heart, imperfectly but still meaningfully recreate the author’s experience within the reader’s conscious moment). That way one can compare a given whim’s claims against the Joy within that alone knows that and how human thought and action actually matter. We don’t need to be enlightened to agree on this principle, and we aren’t hypocrites if we agree to it and don’t always live up to it. The point is to agree that this is the goal and to throw back words and deeds that do not live up to it: “please try again!”, not “you’re out of the club!”, which anyway clearly violates the sharing kind joy rule.

Example 2: Let’s demand clean government. We will not all agree on everything. However, we can all agree that our only hope is 1) clear honest well-considered win-win policy decisions are superior to randomly generated / whim- & prejudice-based ones (if not, we humans have no method for coherently thinking our way to truly better thoughts and actions, and are thus at the mercy of chance and history, which would imply there’s no point having political opinions, or any ideas at all [note that you have no good reason to suppose this, and to the degree you do suppose it, you don’t suppose you should bother thinking anything, and so you undercut all your thoughts, including that attempted-supposition]) and 2) our individual and group decisions are, on the whole, clear … win-win. So let’s agree that we will not tolerate dishonesty, nor will we stand for doing any old stupid thing, no matter how much money or other powers request that stupid thing. Ah! But here’s the rub! For most will assent to these principles, but then, in the same breath, they’ll come to completely different conclusions about which politicians are lying and which ones are doing any old stupid thing for the sake of money, ego, or blind worldly dogmatism grabbed with religious fervor. How? What is going on here? And how to fix it before it critically undermines our shared interests with the persistent myth that we are not on the same team and cannot share kind joy?

Example 3: Let’s agree that human ideas and feelings are not Gods, and that we must therefore ask over and over again for the great God to bless us and make us wise enough to understand that and how it is True that what we say and do really does matter, and that we really are all in this together and cannot escape one another and so must find a way, if it takes us eternity!, for everyone to share kind joy with everyone.


What strange times! What can we say?

Upon death, I’ve heard, the soul is led to the River Lethe, where it forgets all but its deepest, most profound, most spiritual lessons. There, every bit of you that is not Love disappears. Everything not soaked through with Love is, as some have put it, burned in the fire. And so, the theory concludes, the eternal purpose of human beings is to understand and live Love. Insofar as we accomplish this, we succeed. Insofar as we don’t, we fail and gently disappear.

Another, related, line of thought runs thus: We are all in this together and the whole rises and falls in accordance with how well we all treat each other, and also by how well we all treat shared resources: our immediate and larger environment, our governments and their organizations, our written and spoken thoughts, and so on–these structures within which all live.

There are of course those who hold that it doesn’t matter what we do. After all, the game goes on forever and there’s no stopping until all are saved. Even, they reason, if we blow up this world: that’s cool–we’ll just inhabit other forms in another world and keep on rocking. Perhaps. I couldn’t say for sure from where I sit, on a tall stool at the great front window of some no-account SouthEasternConnecticut coffee shop, watching the rain stop and a wintry droop-leafed rose bush wobble in the gray winds, the various accounts drifting see-saw all around me. However, it seems safe to say that as far as we know it would be best to not blow our hand. Better to go easy on one another and our shared physical and mental space, to seek more and more wisdom and, no matter the details of our lives, to focus first and foremost on sharing kind joy. Granted: that’s the sort of thing everybody knows, irregardless how foolish we all sometimes are and how high-flying our theories sometimes get; but, you know, at Christmas we remind ourselves of these platitudes, and that, trite as they may be, they are still True, which still Matters.

Authors: Bartleby Willard & Andy Watson
Editorial Concerns / Copyright: AMW

[correction to CNL 2018: delete “no-account”]

The Law

The Law

Here is a spiritual question.

If meditation is too painful for you because the hurt inside is yelling so loudly, should you still meditate? Or is it wiser to stop? And if the latter, is there some substitution you could make so that your practice might limp along until you, in a reasonably short eventuality, are in a position to resume meditation?

Here is a practical consideration.

One can well begin the process by demanding incrementally more dignity for oneself. By that I don’t mean to suggest that mopers can cure themselves by taking to the streets and demanding passerbys salute them, call them “Sir” or “Madam” and otherwise pay homage. I’m speaking rather of simple, private adjustments in one’s life. For example, tidying up one’s apartment, organizing one’s finances, keeping oneself and one’s dress clean. Or, calling forward a more specific example in order to awaken the senses and with it one’s imagination, suppose it was Saturday morning and you were alone in this apartment, eating a pomegranate; pomegranates, though delicious and healthful reminders of the wonders of international trade, can be rather messy; no great surprise, then, that you notice, while passing your bathroom mirror, that you’ve got some red streaking on your chin, adding a sort of Halloweeny ghoulishness to your aspect; now, you’re not planning on going anywhere for a while, and you hadn’t even noticed the juice stain until you’d seen it in the mirror, so it clearly causes you no physical discomfort; it may even be possible that a bit of pomegranate juice on the skin provides a little health and beauty benefit by infusing your flesh with antioxidants; perhaps you should leave well enough alone and continue walking past the mirror; but no: it is at this point that our method inserts itself, explaining that for the sake of your own private dignity, you break your momentum, turn back towards the mirror and wash off the pomegranate juice, also taking the opportunity to straighten your hair. Do you see? In this way, you communicate to yourself at a very deep level that you mean business, that you demand something of yourself and for yourself.

Indeed, even if a meditation practice must be paused, one’s spiritual practice need not collapse in upon itself. In addition to taking care of your space and your appearance, you can also focus on being mindful about what you say and how you present yourself. You can keep a journal each night, writing down how you felt and how you behaved and what you want to do next and how you might accomplish your goals. You can exercise. You can breathe carefully, taking care not to overbreathe and feeling the stillness created when you breathe air out but do not immediately breathe air back in. You can even add silent chanting meditation to your walk to work and to the time spent falling in and out of sleep. A good one is, “what should I do, what should I do, what should I do, ….” Another nice phrase to run over and over again in your head is, “how can I actually make things better for me and everyone else?”, or some variation like “how can we all make things better for everyone?”

We humans. Do you remember the spot in the creek where the channel suddenly and precipitously narrowed, creating a funnel of white water emptying into a deep (5ft?) and wide (10ft?) trench in the creek? It was between Napier Park and the bridge over Main Street that led from the front gate of GE to the downtown, which was of course nothing more than a small section of Main Street. Creeks ever evolve, and I don’t know how long after 1992 this slice lasted. Certainly, in 2010, it was no more. An awesome sight, but also a little terrifying. What I enjoyed doing at the time was tossing a stick into the creek (pronounced in this essay, out of nostalgia and shouldershrug, as “crick”) right above the diving tunnel and watching its fate. Because the water churned so violently both forward and backward at that spot, the stick would often spend several seconds jiggling back and forth in place before the chaos’s fickleness resolved into the inevitable suck-down under the white water. The water after the frothing was glassy green and deep, and from the right vantage you could see the water gushing into the deep spot as a straight white tube sunk into the green still waters. You never knew when the stick would emerge. It might be a few seconds, it might be five minutes. This private research of mine held me in good stead when my family went to nearby Niagara Falls and learned, in an incredible 3-D film with surround-sound and a surround-screen wrapping around the first fourth of the auditorium, of someone who went over Niagara Falls in a giant rubber ball with extra oxygen stored inside, but who, held under the falls for 14 hours with only three hours worth of oxygen in his tank, was found the next day inside his perfectly preserved one ton tomb.

“O divine Niagara, be prepared on July the 5th to receive a faithful worshiper of your beauty and of the mystery that covers you, and if you will to keep me with you eternally as your prisoner, I accept the sacrifice in the hope that your divine nymphs will spray my grave with flowers from the gardens of your palaces.” (George Stathakis, Buffalo Evening News from I guess sometime shortly after 7/5/1930)

If you’re just a human, tossed about by the noises inside and outside, a prisoner to the white water of stimuli and other physical slaps, how do you proceed?

Some say that asking any question except “how can we make things better for everyone?” will lead to the correct answer. Simply because all other questions miss out on the fundamental interconnectedness and spiritual importance of all sentient creatures, and so ask the wrong question. No matter how passionately, creatively, logically, interestingly you answer the wrong question, you still end up with the wrong answer. And, so goes the reasoning, it is this failure to even quite want to make things better for everyone, that keeps humanity breaking apart on the rocks all the time. Is this true? Didn’t, for example, Marx ask that question, and end up finding an answer that has not made everything better for everyone? I guess the nuance is that people ask questions that they may think answer that question, like “how can we give everyone material security?” or “how can we get everyone into heaven?”, but in focusing on these questions, they skip over the one they are purportedly answering, and actually answer something quite different.

But if that’s the case, then how can you ask anyone to ask this question, since in asking it they inevitably skip over it, and only think they are asking it? Well, we have to keep tuning ourselves, keep refining our approaches, keep coming back to the real question, the one that understands we are all in this together and must find and share kind joy together. We can’t come up with ideas, policies, or systems to once and for all correctly ask and answer our question. But we can agree that it is our goal and keep refining our ideas, policies, and systems with the understanding that they are not the answer, that the answer is known only to the inner joy that knows what this life is really for, and as such cannot be perfectly translated into ideas, policies, and/or systems, but that it be better or worse translated into such what we say and do, and so it can and should remain our shared goal and standard. Not to bring about heaven on earth or to force everyone into heaven. Those kind of goals make sense only for God. But to work together within the only framework that can possibly mean anything to human beings: how can we grow together in the understanding of how we are all in this together and how we should therefore treat ourselves, each other, and the resources (be they ideas, governments, raw goods, etc) we share?

Author: Susan Jes Sayin
Editory: B Willard
Copyright: AM Watson