the women tell me

Crab

 

 

the women tell me

there is soon to be a baby.

 

I remember calling my brother

upon the birth of my oldest son.

both of our parents were dead,

and I needed to tell someone — he,

however, seemed unimpressed.

 

I see this son now grown, bearded

and strong, busy planning their lives together,

as if such a thing were possible.

 

I can almost feel the life force drifting

like pollen from our branches to theirs,

calling forth small, green buds, the sap

beginning to rise.

 

the flowering crab in the yard

holds dark, withered fruit fermenting slowly

under a weak winter sun, when a solitary robin,

who should have gone south months ago,

brushes the snow from the branches

and gorges himself on the hard, bitter fruit.

 

eventually, he grows drunk, drops into flight,

and spinning once in midair, flies straight

into the darkened glass of the window,

then drops to the ground like a stone.

 

so many deaths

caused by mistaking reflections

for truth, by confusing images

with the unyielding surfaces of life.

 

the women tell me

there is soon to be a baby.

and we shall welcome her

with indescribable joy. we

will surely be impressed.

 

we will do our best

to hold her safe, to teach her to see.

we will stand with her by the window

and watch the comings and goings of birds.

 

perhaps, she will smile and laugh with the birds.

perhaps, with time, she will come to love

these hollow-boned, fragile,

exquisitely mortal, impossible birds.

 

perhaps, with time,

she might even be the one

who teaches us all how to fly.

 

lift with the legs and throw

blackdog

 

lift with the legs and throw

 

it feels like it’s been snowing forever

shifting sheets of white and grey

covering what I knew of the sun

smudging the margins of day

 

into endless hours of night.

three days in, the city plows

have fallen behind, and all the routes out

are lethal. twice today

 

they’ve come to scrape our road

packing dense piles of dirty snow

into the mouth of the drive.

and twice today I’ve booted up

 

to attack that pile, my old dog

mad for the snow, leaping at the shovel

with every throw — lift with the legs

and throw. lift with the legs and throw.

 

just like my dead father commanded

when he passed the shovel to me.

lift with the legs and throw —

but he somehow forgot to tell me

 

that shoveling never ends

there’s always another storm

another plow in the night

coming to choke to drive.

 

this is men’s work –

dark, cold, heavy and wet.

so back out we go —

lift with the legs and throw

 

the black dog leaping

biting at the snow.

lift with the legs and throw. again.

lift with the legs and throw.

 

what choice do we have

but lean into the darkness

and throw?  study the dog –

swallow the storm

 

leap at the sky –

bite at the snow.

 

 

© 2019 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

 

treat ’em like a dog…

happydog.5.31 (1)

 

About five years ago, I needed a dog. We’d just lost our beloved golden retriever, Abby, to cancer and I was lonely. My wife was out of town, so I stopped by the local pet rescue place to check out any puppies they might have. As karma would have it, they only had one puppy left, a seriously shy black pup who was hiding at the back of the puppy pen, trying very hard to avoid any eye contact with humans. I asked the woman at the front desk what the story was with this guy, and she said that he and two litter mates had been rescued from a “kill shelter” downstate a couple of days earlier (they’d been 12 hrs. from the gas chamber at the time.) His brother and sister had already been adopted and this little guy was left behind, mainly, she thought, because he was so shy.

 

I got down on the floor and picked him up. He wasn’t crazy about the idea and looked away from me the whole time as I tried to give him a scratch. Not exactly the golden retriever “lean”  I’d come to expect from a dog after 30 yrs. of goldens. I was bothered by this, but like I said, I needed a dog, so I told the woman at the counter that I’d take him. He wasn’t a golden, I’d never had a black dog, and I hadn’t had a male dog since high school. What could go wrong?

 

They thought he was about eight weeks old, a Labrador-border collie mix (wrong- he’s lab for sure, but also pitbull and pointer and…) Like I said, my wife was out of town, so it was just the two of us for several days. He was scared and I was sleepless, having forgotten how often a puppy needs to go “out.” Many was the time we looked at each other and asked- who’s bright idea was this?

 

I could have returned him- the rescue folks would take him back anytime up to three days post-adoption. But for some reason, I decided we’d hang on and see what we might work out. Picking up on his readiness to play and hike anytime night or day, I named him Jackson after the cartoon character from my childhood- “Action Jackson.”

 

Well, as I said, we’ve been together for over five years now. I can say without reservation that he’s the finest dog I’ve ever known. He’s smart, gentle, athletic and, in his own individual way, very affectionate. In the days, weeks and months after he came to live with us, Jack set about training us in how he wants to be loved. He still isn’t big on “cuddling,” or on direct eye contact, and please don’t reach toward his face to scratch his head. But if you’ll let him hold a ball while you’re petting him, he loves the “carwash” (scratching both sides as he slides between your legs), loves a belly rub on a sunny afternoon, and would absolutely accept an invitation onto the bed at night, though he always jumps off when its time to sleep.

 

In short, we couldn’t make him something he isn’t. He’ll never be a golden retriever. But he’s been patient with us, and over time, we’ve come to understand who he is and how to respect that. I was thinking about this history over Christmas this year as my kids, friends and family gathered in our home to celebrate the holiday. Inevitably, a human behavior laboratory like this can create frictions and irritations. No one, it seems, behaves as we’d like them to. Especially for family members and children, if they’d just listen and maybe take a hint, things would go so much better, no?    No

 

Why can’t I treat my sons, for example, as I’ve come to treat Jack? Why can’t I tune into how they want to be loved and do my best to give them that? Why, in other words, can’t I just treat my kids as well as my dog? I remember stories of students meeting with the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the founder of Shambhala. They say that CTR always spoke directly the basic goodness in everyone, not to their superficial neuroses. Maybe this “like a dog” thing is similar. My projections for Jack didn’t fit, and he shook them off, well, like a dog shakes off water. So I dropped the projection and began to see the real black dog in front of me. Suffering was reduced; love grew.

 

So that’s my New Year’s resolution – I’m going to try to treat everyone close to me like a dog. Try genuinely to see them as they are in themselves. Try to slap down my projections for them when they arise. Let them show me how they want to be loved, and try my best to give them that. My wife is always telling me that I give Jack too many treats — I tell her that one day, Jack is going to die (as dogs do,) and when that happens, she’s going to wish she’d given him more treats. So that’s on the New Years list too- more treats, fewer “corrections.”

 

We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I have a dog. A beautiful one who I love to distraction, and for that I’m profoundly grateful. By the way, Jack and I have talked at some length about this business of dogs dying. He’s promised me that he’ll never die, that he’ll stay with me forever.

 

I plan to hold him to that.

IMG_0027

 

© 2018 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com/jfinkimages.com

Let Us Come Together

This Spring and early Summer, I’ve been struck by the richness of community, the simplicity. With heartfelt gratitude for family and friends…

letuscome

let us come together

 

let us come together here

on the rocky spine of this world

 

let us suspend all judgment

of ourselves and of those

we would hold as friends

 

let us watch the shadows

of the clouds as they race

across this darkening land

 

let us hold this hour

in the companionable silence

of those collected here

 

let us ask for nothing more

 

than the warmth of these hands

than this breath

than the tender, fragile heart of this day

 

let us cherish one another

and in this,

 

let us be glad

 

 

© 2017 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com/jfinkimages.com

 

 

New Photo Collection – Ancient Lands – Italy 2016/ www.jfinkimages.com

I just posted a new Collection on http://www.jfinkimages.com, Ancient Lands- Italy 2016. These are images from a recent trip in Rome and Southern Italy, specifically Puglia. My hope on the “Images” site is to invite you spend more than a second per image– click the link and you’ll go to the slideshow.

Begin the slideshow, take the images to full screen, and turn on the sound.

The Collection takes less than five minutes to view, and the soundtrack is from Italian Jazz trumpeter Paulo Fresu. Please enjoy…

http://www.jfinkimages.com/p318766476/h1B40DF1D/slideshow#h1b40df1d

forum-2

morrocan elements – first of two pieces

medinah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Struck by the contrast between the walled density of the old cities, and the edgeless space of the desert… 

 

 

medinah

squeezing like corpuscles

through the black capillaries of the medinah

the ancient spice of sweat and piss

of horses and sheep

the stench of human kind

since before memory began

generations striving

to mount the higher floors

to rise above the stink

of this shame in who we are

while the rest of us

have little choice but to ride on

wildly whipping our donkeys

crossing the road

charging hellbent, blind and desperate

deeper and deeper into the trackless

featureless sands of our lives

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

sands