A Good Treatment

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However it happened—none can really say.

I only know that I was standing in a pasture filled with mirrored boxes, like disco saunas, and that people were lined up in front of them in silent repose.  We were like a host of jet-lagged arrivals waiting to get our passports  stamped—or our eyes examined, or our opinion surveyed, or our future turned upside down and shaken out, its contents inspected for contraband bits of the past.  Whatever the hell was going on here, having just found out you were here, and not somewhere else entirely, the obvious thing was to wait your turn.

The whole thing was quite stately once you took it all in.  Placid.  A beautiful row of mirrored boxes, each of them roughly ten foot square, lined up through the field and down towards the water like drips of blood from some fleeing crystalline god.  It was quite a sight.  Even at the front of the line, there was no escalation of mysterious intensity just because you were next.  It felt right to wait calmly, with a quiet demeanor, which I was doing until a woman stepped out of the mirrored pane before me with ash all over her face and coveralls, with tears streaming down her cheeks, and with eyes that sparkled to the light of a setting sun whose origin defied location.

She was looking right at me, but seeing somewhere else.

A hand reached out from the box and yanked her back, and she was gone.  Her eyes stayed with me though.  There was no sunset in this field of glass mysteries.  No fiery amber orbs dipping out of sight.  What could she have been seeing?  And how?  From where I stood, in this field of pleasant beings lined up in front of these glass disco saunas, there was only a benign tranquility.  Like that first page of the book that’s intentionally left blank.  And then that woman, and her tears.

I coughed into my balled fist.  Was it my turn?

The hand reached out from the box, finger pointed right at me, a finger that swiveled around in a perfect half circle and curled upwards, beckoning me forwards.

Right then.

In you go.

I walked right through the plane of mirrored light and into the examining room.

The doctor began by asking me to have a seat on the examination table, which I did of course.

“You have to imagine,” he began, “the point at which non-existence realized it was you.”

“Could we have introductions first?” I said.


“Why not?”

“Because I don’t know who I am.”

“Well, you seem very familiar.  Do you write poems?”


“Were you in a movie?”


“Is this place real?”


“Well, you seem very familiar.”

“Been doing this a long time.  Plus there’s only one of us.  Now listen up.  Lots of people to treat today.  You have to imagine,” he began again, “the point at which non-existence realized it was you.”

(It comes easier than you think, I have to say.)

“Good.  Now at first, it’s a benign tranquility, right?”

“I think that’s my line.”

“Well of course it is.  Whose would it be otherwise?  Now—first, it’s a benign tranquility.  Then there’s a moment in which you realize: you don’t have a clue who you are.  But it seems… it seems as though suddenly, for the first time, you might be some thing.  The reality is, you could be most anything.”

“I’m me, you mean.”

“Yes!  Yes, that’s it exactly!”

(I realized I was a natural.)

“But think back!  Think back very carefully!  How did you get there?”

“No idea.”

“Think back to the point at which non-existence realized it was you.  Where were you right before that?”

“No idea.”

“But you were there, right?  Just before you were there– there you were.”

“Non-existence was there, yes.”

“Yes!  Now, here’s the thing.  What if the point at which non-existence realized it was you was the point at which non-existence realized it was so much more than a benign tranquility?”

“I’m listening.”

“What if non-existence realized that it never wasn’t, meaning that it never began and will never end, and that it was by its very nature—an immaterial nature neither created nor changeable—an endless plenum of goodness and beauty?”

“Then it would turn into me?”


“We’re unbelievable, you and I.”


“Thank you, doctor.  I really must say, this has been quite helpful.”

“You’ve had a good treatment today.  Name’s Hafiz, by the way.”




    • Hi Linda, I wasn’t sure either. I wasn’t sure what it was, actually! 🙂 The truth of the matter from my end is life has been so all-consuming lately it has been difficult to find time to shift into the creative space. It leaves me sometimes grasping and uncertain when it comes time to write. But maybe that helps open up new ideas or avenues. I’m grateful and delighted it spoke to people here in whatever way that it has.

      We had a painting on the wall when I was growing up, of a buffet table that stretched into the distance, all the way to the horizon and beyond. I remember asking my dad how far it went. The answer was that it went on forever. It was supposed to be an artist’s rendition of the experience of heaven I think. Later, somewhere along the way, in college I think while making the two-hour ride between school and home, I had a feeling of being astounded by the fact that what truly is, is good. It didn’t make itself that way. Didn’t choose to be that way. Couldn’t change or help it if it wanted to. That’s simply the only ultimate reality there is. It kind of blows me away every time I think about it… We think so much depends on what we make of ourselves.

      And nothing could be farther from the truth of what is already true…


      Liked by 1 person

  1. Excellent work Michael – a trip to the metaphysician. May I ask, what is the intention with such pieces, will you compile the whole into a book perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

    • “What is the intention with such pieces…?”

      I wish I knew, Hariod! 🙂

      So, I have compiled most of the poems that have been on the site, along with probably 25% – 35% of previously un-posted material, and am working to organize it into a book. To be self-published at a minimum. I just have a feeling to complete that effort, and am working on it. But this piece feels like it’s either the start of a different sort of effort, or something off on its own. Having said that, I’d be interested to hear from your perspective, because maybe that isn’t the case from your side of the screen. 🙂

      I’m simply trying to use writing as a way of staying connected to something alive within me, and to stay connected with others, through which connections an increasing amount of my daily bread seems to flow. I thank you, as always my friend, for your encouraging presence here.


      Liked by 2 people

      • Ah, I had always wondered how you managed to post so prolifically, particularly at those times when you’ve declared yourself to have been besieged by more mundane matters. You are saying that what we see here may not have been created within the past week – correct, or have I misunderstood you Michael?

        For what my perspective is worth, and it really isn’t much when it comes to poetry, then I could see both the poems and prose working together very well indeed. I tried something similar with my book, in which I have what we might loosely call ‘aphorisms’ breaking up the otherwise linear thread. I got the balance wrong I think, but that was down to me rather than the idea I believe.

        Because I don’t know anything about poetry, I’m never quite sure what qualifies it as such. I often see prose presented in a procession of very short lines and, doubtless in common with countless others, think ‘why bother?’ There must be some reason for this, but to me – am I alone? – it can just seem like an affectation. I read a post on an Australian artist’s blog last night and told her I thought it was poetry, even though it was arranged in conventional paragraphs. What I’m asking here is what is the real distinction between what you may consider your own prose as against your poems, and can the two not work together in a book?


        • I think you have misunderstood, Hariod. Almost all of my posts are fresh off the press, created just prior to publication. Sometimes they begin the day before, but mostly they are just in time productions. Only one or two have ever been more than twenty-four hours in the making. And once in a while I can sustain the flow and cobble together some other pieces that haven’t appeared here.

          I like the idea of prose and poetry intermingled. It sounds like another excuse to delay, however, as I tried to pull together the prose to complement the poetry. And as you note, what the hell’s the difference? I don’t honestly know. I know that when I write in paragraph form I can’t escape the notion that my paragraphs should be meaningful wholes, and the sentences should have a certain “paragraphical” rhythm. When I chop my sentences up into bits and call it poetry, I intuitively feel it’s okay for them to be obtuse, to digress into image inexplicably and not quite find their way back, and to have strange types of emphasis. But I realized all this in trying to respond to your own thoughts, and observing myself, and not because there was ever any intention about any of that.

          I have really enjoyed Daniel Ladinsky’s “renditions” of the poetry of Hafiz, and they are basically sentences. But the way they are chopped up often gives me as a reader a certain added curiosity. It’s like a graphical inflection. One word could have countless inflections and mean something slightly different in each one. Some of the arrangements in Ladinsky’s books are perfect, and add depth to what I read. I don’t think I’ve achieved that, but I’m not sure the “poems” I’ve written would work the same in paragraph form.

          I don’t expect to make any sense in this reply, Hariod… 🙂 You have dished out some good food for thought, however!

          Much Love

          Liked by 1 person

        • PS – I really enjoyed the aphorisms in your book, and despite what you may feel about the balance, they definitely rounded out my experience of your writing. I liked the mix of aphorisms with sections of the text containing lengthier expositions… 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Doc! I thought perhaps you were in line with me there, in the field… There is indeed a diagnosis for everyone, and it’s quite delightful…


      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Karin. I really appreciate it… I see and hear in you own writing you have been the recipient of a similar blessing in the house of mirrors… 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

  2. My response was formulated by the end of your piece…and it was “WOW…just WOW!” And then I see my dear friend Dennis’ response and I know that I was on the right track! It is not glib…it is short…succinct…and full of the kind of emotion that leaves me speechless…unable to articulate how I was moved by something. Thank you Michael for this incredible feeling! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Lorrie, for sharing your reaction! A WOW is a humbling response to receive. It is the magic of the human connection that is most warming, however.

      Much Love

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Meg! I’m so grateful for your comment, because your response that I have “shared awe” suggests a sliver of the heart’s original intent made it all the way from me to you, and perhaps to others. What other response is valid, when we look into the depths of our being and find a thread that connects us all the way back to a timeless bounty without dimension or condition? It’s truly awe-inspiring… To be part of this permanent, invisible sun.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. I experienced a moment, in an airplane bathroom.I’d fainted/collapsed into the tiny space between the toilet and the door. First awareness arose of the sound of the plane. There was no me, no thoughts, no body. Just awareness. Thank you for transporting me back to that. It’s important.
    May all your treatments go as well as this one.
    Alison ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Collapsing in an airplane bathroom– I must confess– was scratched off my bucket list some time ago. It seems to me you must possess a serpentine dexterity to even consider ending up in the position you have described. It sounds like an extremely rare yogic pose one should not attempt at home. The reward, however, is a sublime encounter with pure awareness… Which is important. I hope you won’t mind my poking fun…! So much can be revealed in an instant. Then there’s six or ten years of living to figure out what that instant really was… A long walk through experience with that pamphlet in your heart to refer back to… 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

      • Mind you poking fun? Oh God no! It gave me the best belly laugh I’ve had in a long time. Thanks!
        Honestly I have no idea how I fitted in that space either. I went into the bathroom, locked the door and in an instant consciousness was gone, only to return however long it was later – a simply awareness of thrumming. Not even a name to the thrumming which later I realised was the hum of the aeroplane engines. But that moment of pure awareness with no thoughts, no words, no story, no need for a story, no ‘me’, no nothing at all but awareness. As you say a pamphlet in my heart to refer back to, and to guide the way.
        After that it was much more mundane. ‘Normal’ consciousness returned, I realised that the flight attendants had removed the door to the bathroom and a semi-circle of people stared at me with great concern as I royally threw up in the toilet. Just a small dose of food poisoning.
        Scratched off my bucket list now 🙂


  4. What?!? What? What! How do you DO this?!?! My goodness, a girl goes away for a while to move across the country, and THIS happens. This is so funny and amazing and I don’t know what you’re soul has access to, but I am at least comforted to know that, since I am you, I too can perhaps dig it up one day. In the meantime, I’m going to throw on my coveralls, fish through the outdoor grill for some ashes, and stare (indirectly of course) at the sunset.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andrea! Was that you peeking out of the waiting room!? I was so delighted to see the heart in the tree appear on the dashboard here, and have thought of you periodically over the past lunar phase. Your note here leads me to realize the way we truly reveal ourselves to one another, because your sentiments here echo those I often have reading your own writing. I get to the end, and ask myself, how does a person write so smoothly and richly all at once… Clearly you have been busy. I’m thinking this winter we’ve had could very well spark an exodus. A friend at work told me a friend of his had decided to pack it up and move, after living his whole life in Massachusetts! Ha! It was certainly a challenging winter…

      Hoping you savor the indirect view of radiance–


    • Thank you, Ka. I love the way you read! You were undoubtedly there. I think we all passed through that passport control on the way in… or out… or through… Whatever… 🙂



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