Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I`ve never known a horse before. Sebastien is a 22 year old Quarterhorse, owned by my love S. He has a fine pedigree, descended from the proper families I`m told, and is a handsome chestnut, 16.2 hands, strong and proud.

I remember when I first met Sabi. Unknown to me, he had been drafted into the "Get V Healthy" campaign silently initiated by S following some hospitalizations of mine. I was still unable to walk very far and I sat in the open door of the horse trailer while S retrieved Sabi from his pasture. From my sitting position he seemed enormous and as S and he passed by closely she warned me to watch my feet to be sure they weren`t stepped on. There was just enough room between trailers to walk a horse and S led him behind the trailer where there was room to turn him around.

S smiled at me and said "Do you want to feed him?" I looked behind me and saw the pail with grain, intending to stand and get out of their way while he was fed. Before I could stand, S had brought Sabi to me and as I looked up I saw a very hungry animal. [I would soon learn that horses were always hungry and would graze for hours if given half the chance.] I followed S`s instruction and put the grain pail between my knees. Immediately, a large nose and mouth descended into the bucket and Sabi began to eat. He devoured his portion of grain in two minutes and continued to lick the sides of the pail, hoping to chance upon a stray grain. I looked at S and we both laughed as she started to tell me something. "After he eats grain, you have to watch out…….."

Before she could finish Sabi turned his face to me and I leaned in closer to him. Just as I began to lift my hand to rub his nose, Sabi raised his head six inches and proceeded to baptize me into his herd. A giant sneeze sprayed me from forehead to chest and I learned my first rule of feeding horses grain: Some of the grains will enter his nostrils when feeding and it`s prudent to turn his head away from you as he finishes!


Tuesday, December 4, 2007


In Vermont

It`s evening.

The pond is quiet,


Smoke from the fire

Licks my nose,

Awakens me

From reverie.

My son is sleeping,

Comforting me.

His existence defines

My worth.

To know, within me,

Love will exist forever,

In heaven,

Or the ether.

Sunday, November 11, 2007



Looking for nothing,
escaping the day,
I come upon our pages.
An old manila folder
almost thrown away
so many times,
yet always rescued
contents unread.

I feel the pages
smell them.
Eyes closed,
envisioning their mysteries.

Oh the tides
splashed upon these pages.
Passion never ceasing,
highs and lows
but overwhelming.

At first the letters,
pledges, undying,
meetings planned
written of
in full circle.

The burning within us
with urgency is fed,
consumes, is fed.
We marvel at its power
and forget we are
stripping our hearts
for kindling.

Much later
at the bottom of the folder,
I can sense the poems.
Odes to heartbreak,
to love
to our heroism and

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Meditation and Psychotherapy

My friend and I were talking yesterday, wide-ranging. We were speaking of death terror and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, of Meditation and Psychotherapy. A central issue here was the nature of the terror: was it of physical mortality? Is that which drives us to cloak ourselves in our characterological defensive postures? Or is the terror more Ego driven; do we hide from it in order to deny the meaninglessness of our life experiences?

From the beginning of man and his/her endeavors to make sense of the world, there have been attempts to deny our aloneness through acknowledging a higher Power, be it the Sun or the sun as a representation of that which has ever said “ I AM “.

In “The Denial of Death” Becker has shown a courageous light on our historical attempts to appear heroic, to be more than animal, more than mortal. And yet, when presenting his personal solution to our predicament, Becker agrees with all of humanities` strivings; the solution to the terror of finitude is a bowing, a giving-in to That which has made us.

As we spoke, it became clear to us that the philosophy behind psychotherapy and meditation, expressed in metaphor, acknowledges the same central truth. In meditation, each person is given something to concentrate on; a mantra, breathing, etc. When the “heaviness” of their thinking becomes alarming, the person has a safe haven on which to concentrate, thereby becoming attuned to the absence of distress.

The same principle is what psychotherapy attempts to teach: in metaphor, the essence of “wellness” is having a picture, a thought, a “lightbulb” that is instantaneously available to us. This “lightbulb” should continually have less of an ideational component as we approach “wellness”. In essence, mental health can best be defined as that mental state that continually attempts to deny energy to thoughts that exist for no reason than to cause us pain.


Thursday, August 9, 2007


At the burial site I felt a weakness in my knees, a void somewhere within. Death touches us so deeply. There is really no one`s death, no one who we love, that is not also our death, a piece of us. The stark reality of our own existence, the barest time left to us, brings a shudder to our souls. That little conceit buried deeply in our hearts, “Thank God it`s not me.” I felt that cravenness, that recreant scream inside.

It is not death that makes cowards of us all, it`s the living with that knowledge. All of what the world knows of us, all of our personality, our character, is nothing more than our feeble attempt to deny our finiteness. And yet, in our time on earth, we are sometimes fortunate enough to be touched by another`s struggle. The basic humanness of it.

In trying to understand the waste in the death of my friend, I`m drawn again to the work of the Anthropologist Ernest Becker. In his seminal works, “The Denial of Death” and “Escape From Evil”, published posthumously, Becker ponders the central problem of human existence, the human as part animal-part god. We are that which has self knowledge as the Gods, yet are aware that we are flesh and blood and must die. It is that self awareness of our mortality that drives us to attempt to transcend our fate through the value we place in certain cultural institutions.

The power of the state and religion are poignant examples of our attempts to identify with immortal institutions, to become something larger than oneself. And yet, Becker ponders why the destructiveness and evil in our history, why such viciousness in the name of our cultural institutions?

For him and for me, the answer lies in that dichotomy of god-animal that separates us from the unthinking, that gift from the Creator so exquisitely described in the Book of Genesis. We are the animal that must feel heroic in order to transcend death anxiety, yet are inundated with guilt by our very heroism, our very identification with the cultural institutions of our society. It is guilt at its most primitive level, that which is associated with our feeble attempts to become god-like, to become more than animal.

Becker suggests that it is our expiation of guilt that has led our cultural institutions to engage in countless wars, to sacrifice millions of our kind in service to our own mortality. Those within our ranks who question the “rightness” of our value systems must be persecuted; countries with different ideologies must be destroyed. And yet, through the bloodshed and destruction, a most central part of us realizes the illusion and fetishism inherent in this scapegoating. These destructive acts offer only temporary relief from our knowledge that we are less than Gods, that someday soon we will all die.

Within these wars and murders I believe there are many more victims than the sacrificed. Freud, Rank and Becker spoke of the “artist”. In the widest sense, the artist is he/she who by temperament and life experience is more widely open to the knowledge of his/her own mortality. I believe there are three solutions to this conundrum; “madness”, artistic expression through the use of sublimation and a deep abiding faith in the Creator. I define “madness” in the widest sense, the use of brittle defensive postures to repress primal anxiety. It`s my belief that my friend hadn`t the depth of faith to sustain him through the horrors of Vietnam; I`m not sure if many of us would. Through drug usage he experienced “madness” with no relief. Finally, his life experience, his “Thrownness” into the world, denied him the courage of artistic expression. There was little left for him but the gradual giving in to his mortality through excessive drinking.

Other than the war,I know of little that separates my circumstances from Ed`s. I`ve felt the “madness”, I`ve denied myself artistic expression lo these many years, I`ve had doubts of the Creator. Yet here I am, trying to write, feeling a deeper understanding of the Creator. Ed`s sacrifice is akin to all of us artists, millions of us who struggle to express ourselves, knowing few masterpieces will be created. Yet, we struggle on.

Friday, August 3, 2007



Each morn

a minute later,

the sun arises

over the river.

Each dawn

a degree south,

on its journey

to the Equator.

Canada geese arrive

following the sun;

disciplined V`s

collapse and rest.

Bees and wasps

flitting lazily,

the sun signalling

the end of struggle.

Leaves depart,

depending on the kindness

of strangers,

for their blaze of glory.

Autumn, inexorable,

cloaks its arrival

in glorious colors,

soon to be blanched

by winter`s snow.


Written October 12, 2006

I`m not sure of all that has stopped me from writing since my hospitalization. I know of terror and I think of some of my readers who have been living with that knowledge. I look back at much that I have written about the universal denial of death and its primary importance in limiting us and our cultural world view. About Becker, and his amazing presentation that has so fueled my thinking. And I realize the utter truth in his words in my week-long hospital stay. Not just the knowledge that my life is limited but that the terror inherent in that knowledge, the abyss, the “sickness unto death”, is real and inescapable. Even now, part of me wants to describe those nights of despair, of hopelessness. Perhaps some of it may make good poetry, maybe. But I think of my readers, you know who you are. I think of the courage I find in your writings. Even in the darkest of those hospital nights I felt myself buoyed by thoughts of you, of your struggles to be, your acknowledgement of the terror. And my patients, and my son, and especially, S.



Thursday, July 5, 2007

" E L O W E R S "

Oh how it is, I wonder,

to smile at break of day.

And marvel at the flowers,

overcoming grey.

How can a simple flower

in the beauty of its play,

live a life of honor,

when all I do is flay.

Sad thoughts demand attention

this statue made of clay.

My consciousness demands it,

for I`m its chosen prey.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

To " S " A Haiku

So strong, yet fragile

God has given you to me

Paradox, a mystery.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

" A PRINCESS TALE " Part Fourteen

Princess Elaina opened the door and followed the bird inside. The bird flew directly to a darkened area of the chapel and seemed to hover above a closet door. Lighting her way with the golden ring, Elaina sped to the closet and said a prayer as she opened it. Lying on the closet floor was Siegfried`s body; inert, unmoving.

The Princess sobbed as she fell to the ground, cradling Siegfried`s head to her breast. “Oh, dear Lord, please help me. I must save him!” As she kissed his lips, the ring touched his face:Siegfried`s eyes flickered as he suddenly gasped for air. Elaina felt him struggling, trying to rise, then falling backwards in a faint. She quickly took his hand and placed the ring on his wedding finger. In seconds she could see the color returning to his face.

Siegfried opened his eyes and smiled when he saw Elaina holding him, her lips close to him, her tears watering his cheek. The Princess kissed him and spoke “My love, what did he do to you? Are you feeling well enough to speak?” Siegfried seemed to gain energy as he remembered the plunging of the knife in his back by the Neder Prince. He felt his back, moist with blood, yet could feel no pain.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Oh the times I`ve lost,

What is left unlived

Fruitless, unformed,

Kept alive by fantasy.


Thursday, May 10, 2007


As if in limbo,

The man floats

On his back, leisurely.

The wind settled,

Waves gently moistening his skin,

The man seems spent, smiling at

The placidness of the sea.

Bereft of energy,

Abandoned of will,

It seems enough

To breathe, to think,

To be.


Thursday, February 8, 2007

" A PRINCESS TALE " Part Thirteen

As the Neder Prince brought his dagger to her throat, he spoke. “It will be difficult to explain your death, my dear, but as the grieving newlywed and widower, Siegfried will bathe in the tears of his nation. It matters little to me; which do you value, the ring or your life?” Elaina sobbed and took the golden ring from her finger and threw it onto the patio, where it lay among the jasmine.

As Johann rushed to retrieve the talisman, a small woodbird alit, took the ring in its beak and flew to the edge of the patio. It hovered perhaps a foot from the patio`s railing, behaving more like a hummingbird than a typical woodbird. As the bird seemed to tease him forward, Johann approached the patio railing and reached forward to where the woodbird was arcing. It hovered just out of harm`s reach and Johann slowly turned his body to face left, thereby freeing his right hand holding the dagger to reach further over the railing. The woodbird seemed to sense the change and began to widen the arc of its flight away from the patio.

Fearing the loss of all his dreams, Johann tensed and as the woodbird`s arc narrowed his distance to the railing, the Neder Prince extended his daggered hand in one fell swoop towards the woodbird. The bird stopped his progress in mid-flight and Johann was carried forward by his momentum over the patio railing, landing three flights below on a ground of tiled paving.

The woodbird flew to Elaina`s side and dropped the golden ring next to her hand. The bird perched on Elaina`s shoulder and whispered in her ear “Coo-coo”, then flew out the patio doors. The Princess sat, unable to move, but when the bird repeated this ritual three times she roused herself and followed the bird to the patio. The bird flew directly to the side door of the chapel and perched above the door, staring at the Princess. “Coo-coo”, he said, “Coo-coo”.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007


K L I M T 1906 "Garden With Sunflowers"

Hi Everyone! I`ll be visiting soon. I have so much reading to do.