Shame Dissolution

Shame
Shame dissolution
Same
Same my name
Fingers swipe thumb flick
Savior-ing savoring
Crunch
Remembering silence
Remembering sleep
Body is in a supine slump against a
Subway car wall.
2 teenagers get on.
Take up position
Ones arm keeps jostling mine
He is younger than my nephew who is my yardstick for measuring
How I dole out my love, tolerance, avuncularity.
I’m world-weary and also just regular ol weary.
I want to get to my coffee stained mattress
And lie alone.
Young canoodling man,
I used to canoodle too
Toodle oo.

But guess what.
I get off one stop early.
Instead of getting off at my stop.
Because I want to walk and meditate-pray.
I pass so many cats out and about.
They know it will be Spring soon.
I make a scraping sound with my lips
That means: I love you.
Your furry body darting across the street.
Your glowing always
And never-satisfied eyes.

Hey Look Me Over

You don’t look at me,
and you don’t look at me,
and you don’t look at me,
And then you do.
And it’s like looking in the eyes of God,
because it is
Looking in the eyes of God
Before they dart away.

Outside a car is gunning an engine
which hits a peak intensity
of brazen cacophany
before fading mercifully away.
Though I’m not in
New York City it reminds me of
New York City
Where you are and

Where
Nobody remembers silence.
Or reveres silence
Or cares about your furtive eyes.

Except me.
Well, and your family,
The whole lot of them
And your friends,
A whole passel.
A crowd then.
Rambunctious, fevered, clamoring
And your co-workers
And maybe a stranger or two, too shy
or too proud to say:

Over here.
Add me to the mix.
Stir me in.

4/20

I don’t like weed; it makes me paranoid.
Or I’m already paranoid and weed accentuates it.
Once I did smoke it. Ok more than once.
I sat on the couch afraid to move, staring at the TV.
Unable to unconvince myself Homer Simpson was thinking bad thoughts about me.

Better. Much better, to leave it be.
Alcohol on the other hand, well. I love.
The warm slow spread, like octopus ink,
or like the octopus’s suctiony arms themselves, in my chest, belly,
nether and hind parts.
The looseness in my face, it goes to my finger tips,
and the slight acrid stank above my nose below my eyes.
Amber liquid amber light amber feeling.
Hey, that’s better, right?
Yeah.

I saw a play — a musical — on a rainy Superbowl Sunday. The theater was half full.
It was about a girl who spoiler alert killed herself. Good grief. A kick in the stomach from this beautiful creature
who didn’t want to live anymore.
And the actors singing about it under the lights
with brave and ardent faces.
I didn’t want it to end.

After the play I walked past a bar.
“There are no TVs in here, just humans” proclaimed a sandwich board. I looked in.
Yeah there were humans in there,
hunkered down, dry, murmuring confidentially shoulder to shoulder.
I wanted to talk and be heard and to listen and to lose my only self in the selves around me.

And I almost went in.
But remembered the girl who chose death
and walked in the rain to the subway instead.

Cold Snap

Here are some little known facts.
This is a moment you will only experience once. So is this. so is this. Each moment gone, never returning.
Each next moment that’s about to come, never experienced before, until it too is gone. And so on.
Et al, ad infinitum. Except not.
I wish I’d taken latin in high school so I’d know what the latin is for on and on until ____.
Until not on.
I remember seeing Paul McCartney interviewed in the 60s, asked what happens after one dies.
“Nothing, you just conk out.”
The answer was seen as somewhat scandalous as I recall.
The plainspoken lack of belief, so foreign to Americans at the time and foreign to me also.
Conked out, like an old Hoover or a rusty buick overtaken with weeds.
So flat, plain and blunt.
Rick Rubin says that the Beatles are proof of the existence of God.

I googled a bird. Such a high pitched descending 3 notes. TWEE twee twee.
I heard it every day, every morning, outisde my window.
Lo I did google it
I googled the ____ out of it.
But I didn’t turn up what it was. Every bird I discovered was a different bird. Jerking its head around on youtube, about to sing about to sing until there it goes, unleashing its own shrill chirrup.
but not the one I was after. Elusive silly twee-ing twitting thing.

I cant see what it looks like, it’s too small and hiding in one of these magnificent trees which by the way are the only thing that keep me sane here. these beautiful towering magnificent otherworldly alien twisting gnarling ancient ever-young beasts towering and shooting into the sky but also just staying there. Because, you know, there is a vast system of roots like blood vessels shooting also and twisting and gnarling underground. but wait they’re breathing life into the air. thanks trees. oh yeah but anyway the trees are

hiding and housing this thing that I am googling.

until one day. I notice that I haven’t heard the high-tweeing bird. in a few days.
As quickly as I noticed it I un-noticed it and as quickly as it was here it wasn’t.

And so haven’t googled it and
I wonder where did it go, is it coming back,
and what did it sound like.

Gallery

Europe, Part 2: Bangor, Northern Ireland (continued)

Greetings and welcome back to the series of posts about my trip to Europe in the Fall of 2016. When I left off, I was talking about playing in Fealty’s pub in Bangor, Northern Ireland in late September 2016. I forgot to say that the fellow who gave me his windbreaker (necessitated by my having left my jacket and coat at home in Brooklyn) in Fealty’s was originally from Arizona, and that it was a dad-windbreaker. The kind of windbreaker that my dad would wear, or your dad, or, if you are a dad, you. And apparently me, because I wore it all through EU, until I found a suitable replacement. (oh yeah. The day I replaced the dad-windbreaker. *that* was a banner day.  Stay tuned for that, you won’t wanna miss it.).

At Fealty’s, I met Rodney and Jennifer Cordner, a wonderful couple from Portadown who took me under their wings for a few days.  I was introduced to them via Facebook through my friend Gary Moorehead of  Massachusetts (It’s worth pointing out, that as much as I think social media contributes to the downfall of society, here’s a decidedly positive thing about it. I was able to easily make 2 lifelong friends because of a mutual friend on Facebook). Rod and Jenny are fun, warm, bubbly, funny, nurturing, creative, and plain old fun. Rod will talk your ear off, and did mine. He loves an audience and has the Irish gift of gab. His dad was from Texas (met Rod’s mum in Ireland, and then, I think left and went back to the US) and Rod never misses an opportunity to remind you that he is part Texan (and part Cherokee as he claims). Rodney is a singer-songwriter as well, and endlessly entertaining. Jennifer is sweet, kind, generous, and possessed of an deep, strong, unconditional love.  She treats Rodney’s hurricane-like conversation style with a bemused forbearance. Jenny has heard his stories before, many times, and has got a few stories of their own, as it happens. Neither Rod nor Jenny ever met a stranger. They drove me around, fed me, housed me, and took me sightseeing. Rodney lent me his guitar (“a teckaminny”) for that first gig. Oh and they taught me some of the lingo, which I drank in in wonder, as I drank in everything in wonder.

Here’s some Irish lingo I learned:

They Irish say “wee” a whole lot. Every sentence, like (That’s another Irish-ism, putting “like” at the end of a sentence like that): A wee spot of tea. a wee bit of juice. a wee walk, a wee gig.
“How’s about ya?” means “How are you?”
“What’s the craic?” means what’s going on or where may a good time be found.
“a brave drop of soup” is a big, hearty, bowl of soup.
someone who is incredibly drunk is “bleuthered.”
Someone who has “popped his clogs” has died.

First on the sightseeing agenda was the Mountains of Mourne, or Mourne Mountains, in County Down. It’s a granite mountain range in the Southeast part of NI, full of misty Celtic myths, Game of Thrones filming locations, endless stone walls, and sheep.

 

 

Rod and Jenny

 

 

Rod and Jenny’s front garden in Portadown.

 

This was a resort town where we stopped for tea on the way to the Mts.. can’t remember the name of it.

 

Jenny.

 

It gets windy.

 

The stone walls, the green, the sheep, the sea.

 

Jenny and Me. Do not, I repeat, do not be jealous of my sweet dad-windbreaker, I implore you.

 

A map.  Mourne Mts are at the bottom, Portadown is kind of in the Middle-West, under Lough Neagh.  Belfast and Bangor, Northeast.

Red Lentil Stew

I don’t usually take or post pictures of my food. In fact, maybe I never have. But I made a really good batch of red lentil stew tonight so I’m breaking the rule. It’s not the first time I’ve been tempted to post a picture of red lentils. I eat a lot of them. They are really hard to mess up unless you burn them. You can’t really overcook them (unless, you know, you burn them) and they cook really quickly, unlike regular lentils (wikipedia tells me red lentils *are* regular lentils, only de-husked). The shops around me, many of which are Pakistani-owned, sell a lot of them so I always have some on hand.

This stew had lentils, water, tomato puree, lemon juice, and a little bit of garlic powder. I didn’t add salt because the tomato puree had salt already. I simmered it over the lowest flame I could get on the burner for close to two hours and it turned out perfectly. I added some spinach at the end which quickly steamed.

Gallery

Back

I’m back in New York after 3 weeks or so of touring (in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio) followed by a week of visiting my parents in NC. It was great being on the road again, and an experiment of sorts because it was my first extended stretch of shows since transitioning out of ministry work. I hit the road with a lot of questions. Will I enjoy playing? Will I be good? Will people come? And will I make enough to make rent? The answer to all of these questions is, for the most part, yes. I had good shows, and enjoyed connecting with friends I don’t get to see that often.

Being back in NY feels — well, it feels ok. There’s a certain loss of momentum that comes with not having any performances coming up soon. I’m always happier if I have shows lined up. I’m working on booking the next batch of shows, and thinking about what the next batch of songs might be like. It’s been on my mind to record a collection of hymns. Either an all-original collection, or a mixture of some original and some traditional, or, perhaps something more conceptual like a double album of half doubt-songs and half faith-songs. This latter idea has received some good feedback, but I worry it might be too gimmicky or too forced. Part of what I already do (I think) is explore the edges and overlaps where faith intersects doubt. Really, they go hand-in-hand, and I’m not sure I’d want to hear any songs of faith that were entirely devoid of doubt, or vice-versa. So maybe my next album will just be plain old Jason Harrod songs without any special thematic emphasis. But at least, the gears in my mind are turning.

Here’s a picture of a construction site I took on a walk tonight through Midwood, the neighborhood just South of where I live:

Link

Joy

It’s January 30th. phew. what a day. The Trump Presidency has been a roller coaster and we’re only eight days in. I’m beat. I should post earlier in the day.

I did hear a poet — well, Christian Wiman. I think I started the month talking about him, so maybe it’s fitting that I end the month talking about him, too. I went to another reading of his the other night.

He was talking about joy, and how joy and happiness are not the same, because joy can be — I’m trying to think of the right word — attained, obtained, experienced, gifted, evinced — even in the midst of deep sorrow. Happiness, not so much.

Paul and Timoty say in the letter to the Philippians to rejoice always. This constant-joy seems inextricable with gentleness, and with peace.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” — Philippians 4:4-8

Seems like good advice for these times.

The older I get, the more content I become. Not in a lazy or resigned way, but in a way that, I think, reflects a deeper sense of gratitude and surrender. Thanks to God for giving me that. For gratitude itself is a gift. As is surrender.

By the way, have you been praying for Trump? No, me either. Maybe I’ll go do that now.

See you tomorrow