thought lung #1 – breathe

how many selfies you gonna take

till you know what you look like

how many social media posts you gonna post up

till you know you were seen

how many mirrors you gonna seek

till you know the reflection’s your choice

how many ego trips you gonna take

till you know your life’s not about you

the dance of your body felt by another’s hands

the intent of your words flowing through another’s actions

the lines of your face traced by another’s eyes

the love you gave remembered by someone else’s soul

how many thoughts we gonna choke on

till we learn our minds are thought lungs

till we learn we can breathe

breathe our thoughts

breathe

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narcissus in the squeeze chute

all of us trying to be our own personal brand and none of us asking how it feels

to be flat and shiny and spread around like info jizz

so confused by a media haze, hitched to a worthless gaze, while the screens blaze

all of us trying to be our own personal brand and none of us asking how it feels

to stand up for ourselves on a screen with a profile, but not with our words, our actions, our bodies, our souls, our love

straight addicted to thoughts, thoughts looped in knots, not’s and cant’s and wont’s

all of us trying to be our own personal brand and none of us asking how it feels

to be narcissus in the squeeze chute, burning our own brands red hot across our own eyes

so blind, we start peeling faces with places, dicing souls with races

all of us trying to be our own personal brand and none of us asking how it feels

to be tripping on dreams, never just dreaming, huffing fates, never just breathing

breathing in the wisdom from centuries ago…

 

To carry the self forward and illuminate myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and illuminate the self is awakening.’

 

– From the Genjokoan, as translated by Robert Aitken and Kazuaki Tanahashi. Revised at San Francisco Zen Center, and later at Berkeley Zen Center; published (2000) in Tanahashi, Enlightenment Unfolds(Boston: Shambhala), 35-9. Earlier version in Tanahashi 1985 (Moon in a Dewdrop), 69-73, also Tanahashi and Schneider 1994 (Essential Zen).

supply chain of shame

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measurer of what is measureless

the pallets are ready

the dock trucks are ready

the shipping containers are ready

the tractor trailers are ready

the container car trains are ready

the container ships are ready

the supply chain is ready

the advertising campaign is ready

the wide aisles are ready

shiny with speechlessness

ashen with white light at 9pm

humming and flickering above parents with children

trying to buy groceries and find someone to take the kids

in the 90 minutes between 2 full time jobs

while politicians retch and fart from the flat screen near the pharmacy

“you’re poor because you’re not working hard enough”

their glib smiles delivering the end product of this supply chain the final mile

a wage of starvation paid to hard working men and women

a wage of never seeing their children grow up

a wage of missing school board meetings

a wage of canceled doctor’s appointments

this supply chain of shame carried, worn, pushed and pulled

the final few feet, hours, seconds, inches, days, and nights

by the little bodies of children forced to care for themselves

while from a flat screen in the break room at 3am a pundit declares 

“kids need a mom and dad to be there”

 measurer of what is measureless

there is an accounting far beyond profit and loss

there are dreams that won’t flat pack

there are ideas that float over aisles and rail yards

there are hard workers that never walk away

there are words that burn in the dark after closing time

city of open windows

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city of open windows

there’s a campsite along the Mississippi

right near downtown

it’s hidden in the wilderness of my dreams

the beach is sheltered like a cove

there’s plenty of driftwood for fires

the fishing has been plentiful, delicious

every night i watch the river flow past me and fall asleep

in your cool summer breeze

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i get so lost in the big thunderclouds growing over your skylines

blown in on your cool summer breeze 

you have grown so dank, thick and green

those fat cold drops coming down on schedule

slapping my silent window a.c.  

splashing through my open windows all summer long

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laying there in your cool summer breeze

wide awake at 3 in the morning, thinking about

how to have my father’s life

now, in this world

better than he had all those years ago

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your cool summer breeze makes me think

there’s some huge ocean nearby

blowing onshore every night

giant waves rolling across these great plains

of innocence, optimism, empty store fronts and empty lots

so much room to put down roots and grow

and so many back breaking dead ends that swirl endlessly in dirty river foam

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i’m just trying to find my campsite along the river

so i bike down your tree lined avenues in north east

big beautiful trees arching over me at dusk

and i notice all the bungalows like my grandpa’s

with front porches like my grandpa’s

facing streets like my grandpa’s

he never even lived here

but it makes me start searching around for

for sale signs every time i return

praying they don’t say “sold”

before my plan to buy can even form

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at least i never have to wonder

because lovers strip each other naked

just inside the open doors of balconies

just inside all those open windows

making sweet love all night

there in the dark, where no one can see 

in your cool summer breeze

i’m not the only one to feel you on my skin

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city of open windows

when i feel closed up, trapped and sweating

when i’m freezing in the cold dark of an impossible situation

my campsite abandoned

i’ll imagine your cool summer breeze

blowing down all your streets

through all those bungalows

through all those open windows

across all those porches, balconies, dirty sofas and beds

over body and skin

into dreams

artist, your job is

and it’s just like
feed these humans
feed these frail bags of bones and fates and wounds
feed them, them walking black holes
fill them, them hurting empty insides
tell them, the stories they couldn’t know
heal them cuz
they pull you down too
so don’t go down, lift them
with you

dead frozen models

billions of little glowing screens

flashing in billions of dark apartments

getting walked down billions of streets

we bathe in screen time

screens rising and setting

the sun just passing

we push our face boxes around with our thumbs now

melting into hot little screens

cooking in our own information now

selfies like slogans looking for nibbles

young person, you need to be seen being a scene

the structure of everything so exposed

so posed now

we pound on it with our thumbs now

to record videos of pieces breaking off

our cut off pasts left twitching until deletion

big ideas ripped apart and buried in comment threads

streams of bullshit and fact flowing at 40mb/s

and caught in that space between what’s being uploaded

and downloaded

a tender truth

gone in a second

obfuscation covering it in a fuzzy mold

we watch time remaining bars, hourglasses, and spinning circles

while clicking touch pads move hands into fists

bodies start running, blood starts flowing

flicking thumbs, hot little screens

shudders through structures

and cracks in our face boxes

we stand now, posing like columns of information

getting soft edged in the rain of time

frozen in our selves like the marble up on the acropolis 

our endless smiles

in a gif’s endless loops

darting in curves

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2 flat planes of gray pancake batter

held up by epoxy coated rebars clinging to invisible bones

cooked up in some buttery dreams years ago 

some kind of business plan

some kind of notion

some kind of blueprint unknown 

left sitting in the sun and the rain

little cuts in the epoxy grow

into metal tendons bubbling rust

pushing off pancake batter in chunks

some kind of urge that cuts earth from sky

some kind of math in our blood

some kind of hard edge to defend

strewn with mickey’s 40 ounce bottles and dirty sleeping bags now

and half formed graffiti pieces painted on the floor

unpracticed scripts of color and form

some kind of hot light buzzing above

some kind of dark level cool below

some kind of difference to be tended

as house sparrows and pigeons

darting in curves

fly between the straight lines in our heads