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Archive for May, 2009

On Focus

I was forced to write this Memorial Day column from my kitchen table and not the backyard as was planned, for my neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Piggy—the somewhat obese interracial couple who live on the first floor next door were outside slaving over a hot grill yesterday—and smoke always follows beauty.

So inside I came with my loose sheets of paper to the kitchen table, where with a light, and a pen almost exhausted from ink, I commenced to jotting my ideas and concepts regarding the lack of prayerful meditation in Christianity today. I know there will never be a market for such stories but I write them anyway, just for the hell of it.

The celebrated mystic writer St. John of the Cross has convinced me that inside, under the careful focus of the mind’s eye, is a secret path to ‘The Kingdom of God’, so I spent almost all the Memorial Day weekend forgetting absolutely everything, sitting outside in the garden with my eyes closed, permitting the breeze to pass over and through me—convinced that with enough dedication I could give up my addiction to reading and writing and take on a more profound, personal approach to conquering eternity.

Sudden thoughts and impulses would push into my silent concentration—I’d push them down, as St. John would instruct in one of his poems and go on giving thanks to the creator for just being here—breathing.

Amazing, it seemed after spending hours in trance under the glow of the dark of my eyelids, how I could sense my two cats coming near to rub across my legs which were twisted like pretzels or prayerful hands. I sensed the energy of the cats long before they came close and as the day progressed, could distinguish the different waves of energy being emitted by the two animals. What was that sensation—a bumble bee or a bird above? I don’t know- I’m focusing now—tune it out.

With so much to think about, it’s so hard to focus on just the here and now, but briefly, I believe I found that place that St. John wrote so profoundly of.

When my eyes opened, they were flooded by a canopy of illuminated green from above—for both the apple and cherry trees have shed their blossoms and the limbs have transformed to thick layers green leaves that to my dilated eyes and pupils appeared as a giant lampshade above and I, the light bulb.

Through the leaves, every so often as I rested from prayer to read San Juan de la cruz, a jet on the way JFK airport appeared in my peripheral view, just above the top of the tiny prayer book.

For a moment it seems I can see the faces of those inside the plane—gods not so grounded. It may never occur from the sky that I just lay here in the grass with nothing to do but feel joy and write about it—such a shame I didn’t write this outside, but I needed to come inside to focus.

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The arrest of four alleged ‘terror suspects’ Uptown last evening will sure-up support for Zion.

According to preliminary press reports, it seems the Pentagon was aware of the plot to ignite a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ in one of New York City’s many Gardens of Gesthemane.

The terror suspects were permitted to drive a van packed with fake bombs all the way to a temple in the Bronx before agents moved in. Surely, following this little trick of Jewish owned cameras and September Eleventh like drama, there will be more support for the people so utterly persecuted throughout all of time in these times of religious wars and nuclear capabilities.

Wealthy Pharisee and alter-media ego Michael Bloomberg appeared calm before cameras today—ensuring a third term.

A similar story on persecution appeared on local evening news last night just before Anderson Cooper broke the lead on the ‘terrorism’ confronting those still obsessed with circumcision—

A young man who lived in Brooklyn was arrested by New York City police for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. The rider did not have identification on him and the policed booked him. He spent twenty hours in Central Booking before being released before a judge on ‘time served’.

A story of far greater concern for those on the quest towards godliness appeared in the New York Post on Monday—

A young man who lived in Manhattan was arrested by New York City police for selling Ecstasy pills—The trademark on his e-pills were little guns—anyone who has ever popped an E pill knows they come with trademarks on them—quite chilling.

The drug dealer who looks somewhat like the steroid popping, Madonna humping baseball player- A-Rod, had eighty-eight E pills on him when he was arrested—quite chilling—in this age of wire tapping and increased surveillance where only those still obsessed with circumcision are the only ones not being monitored.

It is a relief to know that the new executive arm of the government has risen beyond the dangers of that old, cold Jewish – Muslim war. Our new president has taken a more sophisticated, non-secular approach to dealing with the devil in charge of the age of mass media for the last forty years.

Just to hear gay leaders like Barney Frank propose ending the war on drugs is more newsworthy than an arrest on a bike on the sidewalk.

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It was a perfect morning to make the four mile lap around Prospect Park—that was until I bumped into a lesbian I pretended to know.

 

Summer again has shown mercy on this cold town. A morning sun was up over Nostrand Avenue by 8:00 a.m. and a warm ray of sunlight had already made an appearance over my neighbor’s chain fence and illuminated the little patch of land that I choose to sit upon on Spring mornings when it’s not so cold and I go outside to read poetry.

 

St. John of the Cross’s poem of the Dark Night of the Soul returned my racing mind to that place of inner tranquility that only those on the mystic path understand—wow, such prose, I thought as I read a stanza about meeting the sweet lord under an apple tree—how odd—there is an apple tree in my yard here in Brooklyn.

 

My mind was so serene following an hour of tampered meditation—one word I chose to meditate on—oh how my mind was refreshed.

 

Time to run, I thought. Just get out and go and open up those lungs—no work today—no job to report to. How many years have I spent inside of cubicals on nice days, wishing I was off—just to absorb the tender warmth of Spring and the gentle glow of God in me—

 

St. John of the Cross spoke of sneaking into the master’s inner wine cellar and drinking of the best vintage that the lord has to offer—understood the poem perfectly, that was until I ran into that lesbian I know while running around Prospect Park.

 

She was heading in the wrong direction—counter-clockwise from the flow of normal bicycle and jogger traffic around the park—

 

“Charles?” She yelled, as I was in a near sprint speed—thinking of nothing but the wonderful smell of freshly mowed grass and those large trees all around Prospect Park.

 

“Hello!” I yelled, breathlessly, looking her in the eyes, wondering just who she was.

 

“Do you remember me? Harlem United?” She asked.

 

“Oh yes—how are you I asked?” Not speaking her name.

 

“Very good? You?”

 

“Breathless,” I said, “Please pardon me. Are you still at Harlem United?”

 

“No. Left that place and social work almost ten years ago. I’m a mid-wife now.”

 

“How marvelous,” I said, not really sure what a lesbian mid-wife is exactly, but I assumed the white woman walking with my former co-worker was the women who hires mid-wives.

 

“It was so nice to see you,” I said—wishing I was much better with names—for the life of me I cannot think of that woman’s name, although I do remember her face somewhat. Maybe she put on weight since I knew her. Who knows. I was glad to cut them off without talking too much or breaking my stride. I took up off over a severe incline, still chasing the Indian man who had passed me on the loop around Prospect Park.

 

Such a race I was on. I wanted to beat him. He seemed to challenge me. So much for the lesbians walking in the wrong direction.

 

Skate boarder dude came out of nowhere—nearly ran me down—but oh so beautiful he was this morning under that May sun—from the Lord’s inner most wine cellar I assumed—blonde hair and blue eyes—

 

“Where’s your mid-wife?” I yelled at him—assuming that he was not much over eighteen and had no business flaunting himself at me like the lesbians who try to break my stride.

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Lifetimes Savings

Despite looming starvation, no income and a lack of lifetime savings habits, I have managed not to ask my wealthy parents of Three Springs, PA for a substantial loan during this most recent recession. Mom’s bubbles in the kitchen sink must have multiplied when I asked her for $100 one Sunday, several weekends ago—I could hear over the phone that she was washing dishes—

“Sure,” she said. Sure enough, three days later a check for exactly $100 arrived in the mail—surely she must have known the price of milk here in Brooklyn—even if she did, she sent just $100.

Exactly one week later, another $100 showed up in the mail from Mom and my stepdad Bob—the rich white people who live at the top of the hill in Three Springs in the big gold house on the hill—the couple with three boats–yes them—they sent a second “loan” out of the blue.

Real fathers seem to be much better parents than mothers and stepfathers, for my real Dad, who lives in Huntingdon, sent me $1,000 without blinking even though he and his second wife, my stepmom Jan, are nowhere near as wealthy as Mom and Bob.

I didn’t have the guts to ask for more money yesterday when I called Mom. I only called to tell her that I had a job interview last Friday—a place right around the corner from the house—“I think she liked me, Mom. Black women always like me,” I explained to her.

“Well, I hope ya get it. I’ll pray for you. Remember—faith and hope is all you need to get through anything. Oh—one of Bob’s buddies wants to buy one of your guns,” Mom said before we got off the phone.

“What guns?” I asked.

“What guns he asks?” Mom giggled to Bob, who must have been sitting in his reclining chair in the living room next to the coffee shelf that Bob built using a hard fungus from a tree in the woods.

“Tell him he has four I think,” Bob said in the background.

“You don’t remember when you came home from Ft. Gordon– on your way to Germany and you asked Bob to invest the money you made in the Army that summer in a fancy gun?”

Honestly, I forgot all about the gun I bought—but yes, Mom was right. I did remember not wanting to travel with so much cash in my wallet and since I had no bank account, I told Bob just to invest all that cash in guns—figuring one day, I’d leave the Army and return to a life in Central Pennsylvania where I too would become a hunter for sport. I then remember “saving” and “investing” money from my paper route in guns—it was a hobby that my stepfather encouraged back in the mid Eighties—he insisted that guns were one of the safest investments a red neck can make.

I never put a second thought into the guns, nor did I ever miss the money they were worth as the years passed and they increased in value.

“Put Bob on the phone,” I begged.

“How much are they worth?”

“Oh, I’m not sure. I’ll have to check the current listings. Jimmy’s been asking to buy this thirty-thirty for almost five years now—I kept telling him ‘no’—but yes, he wants it bad.”

“Well please hurry,” I said. “Sell the damn thing and take what you can get for it. I’m starving,” I said—“But keep that shotgun of mine,” I said—“Don’t ever sell that. You never know…”

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Brave New War

Murder of five at a stress clinic in Bagdad will certainly lead to increased funding for mental health needs of our service men and women.

Unlike previous wars when stress was high and men went nuts from the bullets, this generation will offer the veterans of mid-east battles more Zoloft than they can shake a stick at.

The media must take caution when reporting on isolated incidents of violence that occur among the ranks in times of war—implying that anyone who faces the trauma of war will be crazy for life.

How will any of our veterans find jobs when employers know that anyone who served in Iraq is likely to have emotional problems?

It is not fair to assume that all our soldiers will be crazy from war—just a few—probably the gay ones that know better than to tell anyone they face emotional stress.

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Meditation techniques described by an anonymous monk in the book “The Cloud of Unknowing” have rattled my psyche. Not since Eve was tempted by the serpent of old has there been such delicious fruit of literature to feast upon in the banquet of this place called enlightenment.

The author of the “Cloud of Unknowing” suggests using a single word to meditate upon rather than hail marrying ourselves to tears or through cumbersome tasks of repentance. He instructs those in union to cast aside all outside thoughts—good or bad—and press onto thinking of nothing but a single, one syllable word such as ‘God’ or ‘Love’ and to place all other thoughts below by concentrating on one simple word. He refers to the place where random thoughts go as the ‘the Cloud of Forgetting’.

A most unusual apparition – delusional to the eyes of non-believers and naysayers – occurred to me after following the guidance offered in this little book.

I spent several hours on Sunday afternoon sitting like a butterfly on a flower in the warm Spring sunshine. My somewhat stiff legs were crossed into my best interpretation of the Yoga “lotus” position, but my knees would not relax enough to touch the warmed slab of stone I was perched upon in my back yard. I thought nothing of my wretched body, just the single word.

The repetition of thinking that word started innocently during my meditation session but the concept of forgetting my worries lasted throughout the day. Although the outward act of my butterfly stance had ceased, inside I was still meditating on that single word. The definition echoed as I did the dishes and vacuumed the house.

I rested quite peacefully that night and did not clench my teeth in my sleep. Slobbers ran down my chin onto a pillow—GOD GOD GOD I was dreaming.

Eventually the need to think of my one syllable word to place all other thoughts aside had subsided—only so often in the midst of my peaceful dream state did I meditate upon that word when random thoughts came to mind. As I rested that night, I thought it marvelous that I had remembered the Cloud of Unknowing—but even with my mind closed, thinking of the book, I put the thought aside, meditating on the single word, as per instructions.

An eruption of most unusual proportions filled the somewhat sedated atmosphere of Brooklyn that evening. At approximately 3 a.m. a deafening thunder-clasp rocked both the house and my bed. There were no early warning signs of a storm that sleepers most often receive when a storm is approaching. The loud thunder erased the silence of night and my constant meditation on that one word.

The moment I whispered that word in my sleep was when the heavens exploded—coincidence? It seemed not at that moment—but as if I had pierced the Cloud of Unknowing—as was described by the monk.

My lover sleeping next to me shivered at the sound of the haunting thunder. I too trembled, wondering if perhaps—no—I put the thought into the cloud of forgetting and cuddled up to B.—simply glad to be here in heaven and that I was not the only God who heard the thunder.

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The unemployment rate is at 8.9%– the highest since 1984. Despite a surge in government jobs crated by Big Black Brother, indications somehow show that job cuts slowed in the month of April.

The number of out of work Americans is exactly on target of what economist projected although the private sector remains cautious. Outside of government subsidized careers, there are very few new jobs in the free market. If the Department of Labor were to include individuals who are no longer collecting unemployment benefits—having exhausted that right—and those who have had to settle for part-time work—the figure would be an astounding 15.8 %.

Newspapers suffer from the burdens of unionized writers. Real Estate agents who hope to survive must create scam businesses such as Cash for Gold projects. It seems outside of healthcare, the one industry which will soon be hiring are Collection Agencies, although now it seems, as is the case with Chase Manhattan Bank, that even nasty bill collector jobs will be outsourced to Sri Lanka.

Big Bank stress tests showed positive results yesterday—how could they not when even newspapers that report on such matters are in need of loans.

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