Paper Vision and a Turnaround

comments 36
Christ / Poetry

A cardboard tube
can make all the difference,
and I’ll tell you how.

Walking
through a flavor of solitude
in which I find myself sometimes,
covering my face to ward off
the trace of distant putrefaction,
and squinting into the heat
to see if my suspicion is correct
about the horizon stockpiling
behind its dusty curvature
all the sad carcasses
not fortunate enough
to receive a proper burial–
I’m wheezing in the fumes
of my own dissolution,
choking on the smoking obvious
hanging all around me.
It’s the clarity of meaning so little,
of drifting along the dried-up riverbed,
wandering past abandoned homes
with torn screen doors,
seeing just enough bones
protruding from the skin
of this broken tongue of ash
to make you think
they’re mile markers.

The songs I had have all withered
under the weight of measurement.

But
a cardboard tube
at a time like this…
a cardboard tube
can make all the difference.
Because first, if you let it,
it’ll give you the feeling
you’re looking for something
you can’t see without it.
You’ll get this glint in your eye.
You might even imagine you’re standing
at the prow of a great sailing vessel,
and focus, for instance, on one pixel of sky.
That little point of color will confound you.
You’ll be forced to look at another one.
Eventually, your experiments will wander
to the bottom of your shoe,
and you’ll find the stench
is not the bloodthirsty horizon,
but a couple of those vomit-flavored
jelly beans from the mall
you haplessly squashed
into the gum rubber grooves
of your inadequate footwear,
forcing them into rhythmic release
of their vehement fumes wherever you go.

Yes, it’s your fault,
if you want to call it that…
but also…
a simple thing
like a cardboard tube
can probably help you scrape
those rubber wrinkles clean…

Okay… I know…
The heavy stuff…
The hot dust in every direction…
The bones sticking up here and there…
The meaninglessness wearing you down
inside and out… sinking into your mind
like a thick mud.
What about that…?

Well this is what I mean
about that cardboard tube.
I look up from the scraping
of my scratch and sniff shoe sole,
raising the tube towards the level again,
and am interrupted by another set of footwear–
glittering, breathable fabrics and reflectors.
Scanning upwards, I see two legs,
a pair of shorts, a shirt, and then
eventually an eye.

Jesus is holding his cardboard tube, too.
He can’t be more than three feet away.
We’re just looking, eye to eye
through the spiral-wound paper wormhole,
completing an ancient circuit.
I came to find you, he says.
You’re doing that thing again…
Using the full power of the seen and the unseen
to see what makes futility futile.
You figure it out yet…?

His eye is like a–
like an I don’t know what–!?
like a double-dog dare drowning in trance,
or the eye of a savvy desert bandito–
one of those unruffable, slow-talkers
with a six shooter on his hip,
a belt loaded with world-changers,
and a fleet of doves at his beck and call.
Snap of the fingers
and you have cosmic messages
flying in from every point on the compass.

One glimpse of sanity changes everything.
One taste of unity
and inevitability turns in your favor.
You can’t pretend after that.
That’s how the cardboard tube saves me.
Small movements. Holy sight.
Now I want to start fresh.
I want to pour myself into the day’s mold.
Go buy a gigantic trampoline
and position it under the moon.
Hang a microphone off the
shirt pocket of a black hole.
Paint a bulls-eye on my shirt
and walk out onto the water.

Drink a thimbleful of our love,
stare out beyond the sea,
and chuckle about why I ever wrote this one.

36 Comments

  1. Genie says

    I fully believe that, one must see the beauty of the rainbow reflections on the snow on the mountain, and also, see the blood on the snow; then, one is a complete being in this world, and, not of it, at the same time.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Beautiful and true, Genie. I find myself in agreement. The blood on the snow feels to me like the most humbling form of giving. Love becoming flesh, and giving its very self… That is how I see it tonight, and I don’t know if that is what you meant. And I don’t know if it matters… Your thoughts here sent me into a quiet place that was well-lit, with room to maneuver, but no need to do so.

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How wonderfully expressed
    the magic of mindfulness
    concentration & insight
    revealing the ultimate true nature
    which is neither immaculate
    or defiled,
    inclusive of mud
    and lotus 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Grateful for your insight into this one as always, David. I see it through your lens– the mindfulness that cracks everything open and leaves it simply as it is… Gives me a beautiful feeling right in the middle… We are indeed inclusive of mud and lotus…

      Blessings
      Michael

      Like

    • Thank you, Shailie. Surfing around a little the other night when I posted, I realized many seemed to be writing about coming through a patch. It was interesting to see us moving in waves, reinforcing we’re never alone… It’s not merely our own pain we face, is it…? Though it seems to be so, I realized everything we feel is being felt by connected hearts as well… Grateful to be walking hand in hand with you…

      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

  3. footloosedon says

    The way you craft a few words into luminous images is wonderful, Michael. I particularly resonated to the line ‘One glimpse of sanity changes everything.’ in this piece. I had one brief moment at the end of a group meditation where time stopped and I knew the Truth of Being and I was at peace. Memory of that one moment has sustained me many times since. Thank you for the reminder.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Don. I like that line, too. And the one after it is one that spoke to me: turning inevitability to your favor… When I’m underneath it, the weight seems like the inevitability. When I’m clear-hearted, the expansiveness is the inevitability… But it seems there’s no middle ground to this. We can’t really hide out in gradations and so-so… We’re either all-in, or we’re suffering…

      The experience you shared here sounds wonderful. I love when we just know it. I love when it taps us on the shoulder, when a moment steps out of line and suddenly we realize there was no line… 🙂

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My bathroom is now awash with unravelled toilet tissue Michael.

    Wonderful work; I think I followed your drift – something about the self-centredness of indulging a sense of futility?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hariod, that was definitely part of it. I was experiencing some difficulty, and definitely there is a place in this work where I suggest that indulging this is a sort of selfishness. That’s a fine line to walk, though, isn’t it? I do believe we have to welcome whatever comes up in the feeling department– welcome, but not become them perhaps? Share a space with them, but don’t be consumed by them? I like your use of the word indulgence, because it can in a way be tempting to drop the attentiveness, and let them simply wash over, and in doing so allow oneself to have all sorts of validities and reasons for certain feelings. Touching them… tasting them… not because of their reasons… but simply for what they are or offer… seems to allow the openings to emerge.

      I also wanted to try and recreate the way the opening comes, when it finally arrives. The way the whole world flickers and resolves. The way a weight or an insecurity evaporates. The way, over time, we realize we can depend on this, when perhaps at the beginning of our practice we haven’t experienced this, and truly feel overwhelmed…

      You know me by now… my idealism… is that the right word? Sitting with discomfort and pain, I kept thinking of the importance of touching them the way you touch a delightful meal, or a beautiful piece of music. They become something different then, and what it means to feel and to be somehow softens, even as it expands. Then we can hold it all… There is the feeling that in sitting with every feeling this way, the visceral sensation of being at home with the entirety of things seems to increasingly arise. I like to imagine experiencing the entirety of the world the way we might experience our closest friend… there’s no barrier to flowing across it, and the whole of it has an intimate knowingness to it. I glimpse it… These other feelings arise, but perhaps merely to take their rightful places, having once been discarded during a time when I thought I knew best…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

      • Very beautiful thoughts Michael, and as ever, deeply insightful. I thank you for your further unravelling of the matter, and had somewhat suspected that my own unravelling (of toilet tissue) was no more than a preliminary exercise. Still, deploying my cardboard tube in looking at your further words has helped a good deal. Thank you. H ❤

        Liked by 2 people

        • Much appreciated, Hariod. I do recommend the gift paper tubes myself… as they offer a slightly finer resolution… and the raw potency of a a frontiersman’s musket… Though in the end, the resolutions that come into view do seem to defy our understanding…

          Your Friendly Synecdoche,
          M

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m going to write something…and then I wonder how many times I have written it before…and I don’t want it to be watered down…but rather “elevated!” “This is one of my favorites!” And I will tell you why: First, you show a vulnerability and there is a window into a sadness…unexplained, yet real. It makes me feel so much more connected to you that you show this side…because I often think of you as so spiritually evolved that you are almost out of reach…and I am sure this is my own baggage speaking. But to see you on the edge with a profound sorrow and a questioning mind solidifies the fact that these times are necessary…that there is a yin to the yang and a balance that is the essence of life itself! Ah! I know poetry is different for everyone, let alone the thoughts the author had in mind while writing it. And I may have completely missed your mark…but I suppose that is the real beauty in the art form… It will be what it will be for every soul who reads it…and it doesn’t have to be the same. Looking through the cardboard tube and finding Jesus looking back…AHHHHH! I want to mark this one for easy access to come back to in times like these. It reminds me of the saying ‘It isn’t easy, but it is simple.’ Yes…narrow down the focus, through a cardboard tube…through a keyhole to your heart. Thank you, Michael. Your soul is so beautiful and you express it through words that touch my very core! Much love to you ❤

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi Lorrie,

      Thank you very much for your shared feelings here. You are close to the mark indeed, with regards to this piece, at least as regards the traversing of difficulty and sadness. It makes no sense to explain the cause or where it comes from… we simply do pass through different currents and seas so long as we have fears and attachments (specialness) rooted within us. It all comes to light, and I think if anything we get better at being gentle with ourselves along the way. I’m encouraged by Jesus’ words in A Course of Love when he suggests that as our hearts open we don’t cover the same ground twice, though it may feel so at times. We have these core challenges I feel, and they poke their heads out from time to time, but the experience of moving through them only strengthens the feeling that life is possible without some of the types of difficulties we’ve felt for so long.

      As to my spiritual evolution, I am completely normal in the sense that whatever you feel that you are in your own heart– with all your own desires, hopes, uncertainties perhaps, or moments of trembling doubt– I am precisely the same. There is no difference between us in that regard. Our minds like to swoop in and say who is doing well and who isn’t, who is farther along and who isn’t, and it’s truly all a distraction. What we feel in our hearts about who we are as beings… is identical. And there is nothing besides that… The rest is an unnecessary interpretation, and when we rest on the realization that what we find in our own hearts is the same, I think we reduce the meaning in some of the thought forms that can trip us up.

      Your friendship is a gift, Lorrie. We are all such to one another, realizing it in fits and starts perhaps… Until we realize it with everything at once…! 🙂

      Love to you also,
      Michael

      Liked by 5 people

        • I was thinking of your article even as these words came out, H… realizing they were so closely related… and savoring the feeling of it all!

          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Michael. I debated, for about two seconds, whether to put my statement in my comment about thinking of you as so spiritually evolved that you are almost out of reach. I know that it goes against all that I am learning, all that is written, and I knew that you would touch on that in your response to me.

        I left it in because it is a powerful feeling and it was truth in the moment. I think it is a combination of the incredible light you shine, and as I stated, the baggage I carry on my back. My body has wear and tear and has been broken in ways that are hard to comprehend. But as I walk, and deposit bags along the roadside with hopes that someone else can find something useful, my load is lighter and my heart is freer.

        I suppose what I am saying is not that you are unreachable at all, but that I didn’t feel worthy of rising to the light that you exude. Every time I read your words you give me a gift. I remember the first time I read one of your posts, I was blown away. I had FEAR when I thought about commenting! So, I really hope the writer in me is able to articulate what is in my heart here. I thank you for helping me see the light in myself. Your genuine love and kindness has always fostered unity. The thought of you being unreachable dissipates in the ether of the love you offer…to all!! Thank you for extending your hand, for holding my heart, for offering me the belief that, Yes…we are all one. Your unwavering ascension in love is profound and powerful, and I see the commonalities more than I see the differences now.

        In closing, I hope that a statement I made that appeared to set us apart, is rectified to show my gratitude that you never allowed me to stand in the wings looking in on the beauty, but rather pulled me in and touched my heart with hands of light and taught me so much more about the true meaning of love. Blessitude!!! ❤

        Liked by 3 people

        • Beautiful, Lorrie! Honesty about how we are feeling always clears the way to the deeper experience of the truth within us that is available. For what part I have played in your peace and acceptance, I am grateful, and trust it is all part of how we move into presence together. You have expressed yourself perfectly, and I feel both the equanimity of our being, and the love that comes from moving deeper into one’s own heart. Our path home is the return to one another, and we vanquish unworthiness with our joining. You are a gift, Lorrie, and I hope you continue to find peace as you lighten the load… I assure you, our load lightening efforts go far beyond what we think of as ourselves… 🙂

          Blessitude, indeed!
          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I love those moments when I see the futility of it all. They set me free and I laugh out loud.
    Reading this beautiful heartfelt flow of words reminded me again. Thank you. When we know that ultimately nothing matters and never will, and that everything is love anyway, what more could be wanted or needed? There’s that Jesus looking back through the hollow tube again!
    Much love, Alison

    Liked by 3 people

    • Me, too Alison! It’s the journey through the muck and back to this point. The temporary setting aside of simplicity and believing the mind’s strange weather reports. What!? There’s a storm that comes once every hundred years and flattens men like pancakes!? Jumpin’ Jehosophat! We better be thinking about shelter… But we can’t dig in our neighborhood because of Ordinance 719. We better move then!

      Get out the cardboard tube… Look a friend in the eye… Blow a kiss to the sky… 🙂

      Much Love returned–
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Michael … During the first reading of your poem I was spellbound , not knowing if I could read it a second time , and then after reading the insightful and caring comments I too , in a humble way , wanted to be included in supporting all that has been expressed so thoughtfully by such beautiful people with loving spirits … You inspire ” Holy sight ” …your description of Jesus with ” a fleet of doves at his beck and call ” and ” a belt loaded with world-changers” gave me a new and different perspective of ” his eye ” looking at us thru that cardboard tube … I know I am going to dream world tonight thinking of this …perhaps on that ” gigantic trampoline …under the moon ” …I especially felt the same as Lorrie did in her comment above …You Michael , write with divine beauty and I am awed , completely ….love , megxxx

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Meg, I hope you had a good flight through the dream world, with that Love Gazer Jesus keeping an eye through the cardboard spyglass… It’s a team effort here, a movement into unity that can never happen alone… and I think if you look between the lines to the places where each of us meet, you see the profound evidence accruing of the grace of which we all partake. I love that this one spoke to you, and to others. It’s interesting too, for me to hear people say they found a different perspective of Jesus in this one. I wonder what the impressions are of him. I know they are rich and perhaps varied. Is he any different than what is emerging between us here? I think not, to be honest… We have our cages of doubt and uncertainty from which we are emerging, but what emerges is the same. It must be, or else all this talk of Love is moot… 🙂

      And I don’t think it is…

      Love you,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Michael, this is so elegantly written,so uplifting, playful and ultimately empowering. I am going to change my agenda so that today is “crafternoon” and out comes the egg shells, the toilet paper rolls, the dinosaur stickers and some scissors and a stack of National Geographic magazines so that I can create my own global mosaic and find a way to splice enlightening with uplifting & I might have to bring out the big guns: Glitter! Respectfully yours, Harlon

    Liked by 4 people

    • Glitter!? Through neural pathways I’ll never fathom, you’ve just jarred a memory loose of that paste we used to use when we got out the packs of colored construction paper and the plastic scissors that are necessary companions to the glitter… You remember that stuff? I love your image here. Cracked me up! I love thinking back to the simple grace of the tongue sticking out in concentration, cutting out dinosaurs and stars and pasting them together into Christmas ornaments…

      Five years old again,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I want to read this again and again. So, is it okay if I re-blog it? Using the cardboard tube as a spyglass from the bow of a huge sailing vessel reminds me of how most of the clients I teach basic meditation and mindfulness to like escape imagery best. That’s way I watched a lot of TV, especially science fiction, after my divorce, to take my mind off of my reality, to go somewhere far away. But then, for recovery to progress, we need to look at ourselves, and the thoughts and attitudes we carry with us, like the vomit flavored jellybeans squashed on our shoe. I laughed out loud at the image of Jesus, in shorts and a shirt, with his own cardboard tube. Then I imagined Jesus standing beside me, showing me where to look, so that I might glimpse how he sees the world and people. Thanks for making him so accessible. I will never look at a cardboard tube the same way again.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi JoAnne,

      Thank you very much, and of course you may re-blog. I find you’re right about needing to look deeply and honestly at ourselves. It’s not always fun, but the escapism is like an economic bubble that eventually bursts, and then we’re left with what we’ve always been. Some of my earliest and hungriest moments of “seeking” were profoundly painful, and the greatest of blessings at the same time. We simply have these moments and places within us to embrace and welcome home to our hearts. I’m glad you found something to relate to in the image of Jesus as well. He feels so present and available when we open to his presence. I think, to use Hariod’s word, he’s a synecdoche of unity… We use this word Jesus, and he’s absolutely there, but I think also he’s enabling us through our connection to him, to access what is beyond any one being as well… He’s like a cosmic usher, friend and brother…

      Thank you again, JoAnne,
      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

  10. Working with children there are craft days where out come the paper tubes and all sorts of throw away items. Without fail, every child will pick up a tube and begin to survey their surroundings in that narrower but entrancing way. And they always invite each other to ‘take a look’. It reminds me of looking through a kaleidoscope, such a simple piece of equipment but one that constantly changes in beauty with perspective.
    I smiled many times in the reading of this – several readings – noting each time simplicity enhanced. From the vomit beans of our own treading to the questioning appraisal of cool hand Jesus! Looking through a cardboard tube, inviting, ‘take a look’ has already enhanced my day and, as Harlon has suggested, I may very well glitter bomb the rest of it, remembering the pleasures such simplicity always gives.
    I have an image right now of Jesus playing peek-a-boo, smiling at me and asking why I overcomplicate life at times when there is so much joy to be had in a different, more simplistic perspective. It’s generally my way but I think I had lost my cardboard tube for a while there and need to go hunt out my thimble. You’ve given me a chuckle, food for thought and a fresh dip in the universality of love. Much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, SM. I found your readings and listened to one, and enjoyed it very much…

      I can picture the craft days you describe. It’s a common image, isn’t it, turning the empty paper towel roll into a spyglass? The movement through suffering seems also to come home to the simple, though at times it trumpets its complexity for me as well. I’m delighted to have enhanced your day with this piece… and yes let’s raise a thimble’s toast to the Love we all recognize…

      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m inclined to forget I have a readings page so thank you for listening. 🙂
        I actually found and used a cardboard tube today and had a giggle using it. The simple things may give us pleasure but many of the truths evidenced in them are the most complex, like looking at a daisy and seeing the world. Raising my thimble here. Blessings to you too. Anne-Marie

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well said, Anne-Marie. The complex and the ineffable, explained by the simple things we can never fully describe once we set about to trying… Glad you had fun with that simplest of toys!

          Michael

          Like

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