blackhockeyjesus (at)


For Stacy Campbell and a Sophomore at LT High

He is unaware of a whereness and it’s hard to be all foreground. For instance, he is in a chair at a desk in a room with a door, closed, beyond which is the rest of the house on a street in a city beneath a galaxy of stars all shot through with ghosts and gods and no end of ambiguous wailing.

But is he aware of the chair or the desk or the glass of water atop the used copy of Discourse on the Method? How about the house, the city and all those stars, the many layers of the peculiar dream we call outside—is he aware of those? Does he, so him, hear the wailing? The answers—no, no, no—rush in quickly. All too quickly. And it is precisely here where I want to leave the questions open, give them room and let them breathe, and see, perhaps, if the rushed conclusion isn’t an example, itself, of a failure to hear the essence of the endless wailing of the gods and stars and water.

The where of his apparent awareness dwells within an in-tense (in what?) amount of suffering that neglects the chair, the room, the water and gods, and focuses rather on the composition of a suicide note that, take note, also ignores the computer, the desk, the closed door and—beyond—the bright lights of the beckoning city and its luminescent twin of bitter stars.

He wants to die. He is going to kill himself and he is full of regret. The intensity of his suffering, the reasons he wants to die, and his regret toward all whom he intends to leave behind. This is the half-written substance of the note he composes, paused, reflecting, sifting through his screaming thoughts for the note’s conclusion. Don’t rush it. Never rush it. Take it slow.

Regret. From Old French regreter: bewail (the dead), perhaps from the Germanic base greet.

This is not a suicide plot. It’s a murder conspiracy. He is aware of the chair and the water, the door and the stars. He hears the wailing. It sounds to his ears like the exquisitely unique tragedies that, oddly enough, plague us all: deformed love, work dissatisfaction, imbalanced brain chemistry, inferiority, money problems, the relentless inability to make ends meet. These conclusions, these rash interpretations of the endless wailing, forget the crucial essence of the wailing. The blind desire for conclusions, to make ends meet, is how we meet our end.

Quickly. All too quickly. We forget the ambiguity that vivifies our lives while misinterpreting and misplacing the source of the screaming.

He is innately and irreducibly embedded, pristinely enmeshed, fundamentally in-volved, by definition entangled in context, always already in a sharing that endures. Relationship given, together implied. In a world, therein he is. His desire to die is a longing for union with what is already dead and with which he originally belongs as the precondition for being at all: being-with-all. His regret is not for whom he intends to leave behind. It is the wail of the already abandoned and neglected. The chair’s revenge. The door slammed shut. The house’s resentment. The street’s dead end. The ugly city and the murderous stars— 


Go ahead and write your letter. Just. Resist conclusion. Never finish. Forestall forever what is never inevitable. Your death does not belong to you. Wailing means lots of things. There are many ways to greet. What wails like a dead world hellbent on killing you is the wail of the world begging for its life. Pay attention to where you’re sitting, to what constantly supports you without complaint. Slow down. Sip water. Open the door. Go outside. You are always inside. You have never not been outside. My God, it’s always twilight. There are friends along the way.  


Thank You

It was a blueberry pie, but nothing ever was only a blueberry pie—like this—already, though, cut into pieces—lost—like words and people and trees cut into things as if they weren’t already made, with no effort, of hours and years and as he forked a piece of pie into his mouth, his tongue and the blue sweetness—there—flowed into a whole new river and he blinked back tears because what could he possibly say that would say the rest, too? This blueberry pie was not a blueberry pie and Thank You would be misconstrued.

All, certainly, is too ambitious, but the pie more than the pie did spill past its limits, not an object but, if anything, a symbol that announced a vast weave of happenings. He would leave later that day, get on a plane and fly away, after a summer that had arrived, yesterday, to a blueberry field beneath the sun and they, between, picking. When picking blueberries, you don’t just grab them, one by one; you cup your hand behind a bunch and beckon with your fingers like a rake gathering leaves from the deep green grass, the trees, clouds and sky, all beckoned to gather and be, together, itself, like a blueberry pie, until it isn’t and is, instead, the sun on his neck, sweat, and her emerging into view. The sky was blue and her shorts were blue and his eyes were blue and he watched her, picking blueberries, picking blueberries, picking blueberries, and he knew, secretly, that the blue mysteries of this world were too clear and big to ever think or say.

And when we called it a day, it was blueberries, and she made the day into a pie. She took the time to make a pie with the day. The day was a pie. A blueberry pie. Made with her time, the way she cares, and our day, in the blueberries, picked during the summer, which would end the next day, in the middle of our lives between the grass and the sun and birth and death and this is how, really, a blueberry pie is.

So as he forked a piece of pie into his mouth, his tongue and the blue sweetness, and kissing, all that kissing, thank you, yes, for the pie more than the pie, the time, your time, our time, this summer beyond coming and going and the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me. 

This is not a pie.



He brought the groceries in. She put them away. This division in labor arose of its own accord after several grocery experiments. In the beginning, they both carried them in and put them away but, after years of buying groceries together, the refined process simply arranged itself. How? Neither could say. A dropped bag here. A misplaced bag of chips there. Collisions. And now this is how it was.

“How you doing?” he asked. She put away the celery and closed the refrigerator.

When she asked him the night before about attending her work party, he did in fact say “Sounds good.” But he wondered now, as he mowed the grass, if he hadn’t said “Sounds good.” with the proper enthusiasm. Was that why she was angry? But he really wanted to go. The enthusiasm that animated the expression of his desire needed some work. “SOUNDS GOOD,” he practiced in the noise of the mower. Too much. “Sounds GOOD!” Maybe. “Sounds gooooood.” Creepy. He killed the mower’s engine and checked his work. Missed a spot.

As he undressed to shower, she looked him up and down and smiled with a bounce of her neatly plucked eyebrows. Yes, but why didn’t she answer him in the kitchen?

He watched a football game on TV and questioned his assumption that she was angry. Maybe her silence merely implied that she wasn’t well and didn’t want to talk about it. It has nothing to do with him. Okay, but why didn’t she want to talk about it? Wasn’t he, her husband, a safe harbor for all her woes? Did his lack of enthusiasm when he said “Sounds good.” destroy the space where she could open up and be vulnerable? He noted the new level to which her silence was about him. Okay, maybe she wasn’t well but she didn’t want to burden him with the details. Couples do that for one another all the time. It’s courteous, a good thing. Him again. Okay, maybe she just has cancer and cancer is scary. But?

Maybe she didn’t hear him. That was most definitely probably it.

She read in bed and he wondered why she was angry. He did, he knows, eat the last Klondike Bar. He should’ve grabbed more. They were just at the grocery store. He almost decided that she was angry because he forgot to empty the dishwasher when it occurred to him that, in silence, ambiguity is the place where anything lives. She didn’t respond for an infinite number of reasons and all of them, each one at the same time, inhabited her pregnant silence. She’s pregnant! No. But silence is pregnant with a richness that resists inquiry. Her face blocked half the lamp. He looked at half the lamp. He looked at her face. She appeared in the light that outshines our thoughts about the light. He emerged from this reverie to think You are so fucking beautiful before he fell asleep.

“I’m fine. How R U?” she said and closed her book.


Kingdom of Spain

When we met, you said you liked The Decemberists and a Chilean novelist named Roberto Bolano. This is how I remember you. In barely legible poetry written on postcards of Paul Klees that hang somewhere in Zurich. O, the colors defy names. Imaginary Alps. The pause that tells between church bells. On the dock with your foot dipped in the Kapuas River. Crying in the movies. Love fodder. The Queen of Spain sits in her castle 52 floors above Chicago dining on novels and sad songs. She will not go back. She’s not going back. She will never go back. But I will light the candle to blur distinction between light and shadow for she who hears the cries of the world. Je est un autre. The glaciers are melting; we were never not ocean. For what else a howling beast if not to kiss away? I will ask again tomorrow after I catch a train to your kingdom. 


I (I) Got (Got) Lawn Mower Whack (Whack)

50 seconds of scratchy Yauch. Bow.



Lone Mt. Roshi's Gruel

Jon drove his Saturn Vue 3.6 miles to scale, on foot, Lone Mountain’s 600 feet to seek refuge in the wise council of Lone Mt. Roshi.

Lone Mt. Roshi’s face looked like cracked bronze leather that melted a little and dripped drippy wise leather. His long white hair and beard called to mind Santa Claus and/or Walt Whitman. His old robe looked like an old robe; he was exactly as he was and the other things, too. He was complicated, though simply and straightforward like an old man stirring a pot of gruel.

Lone Mt. Roshi stirred a pot of gruel and, grimacing, shook his head. “What do you want with this thing that you call the what…?”

“My Original Nature! My face before my parents were born! The Treasure House! The 10,000 foot Palace of Rubies and—”

“Yes, that. Your Ruby Treasure Face. To what end do you seek such a string of frustrating enigmas?”

“Duh, Lone Mt. Roshi! So I can be freed from the tyranny of selfhood and publish a self-help book and do book signings and speaking engagements and receive the financial backing of several eco-friendly sponsors.”

THWAPPP… Jon’s chin snapped behind his shoulder. Lone Mt. Roshi had enormous slapping hands.

“Ha ha ha! There! There, Jon, is your Ruby Treasure Face!”

“What the hell, Lone Mt. Roshi?!?” Jon held his stinging cheek. “What in the EVER LOVING hell?!?”

“Oh, but don’t mourn your stingless face. Gods are born and die. Empires are crumbling. Kingdoms are under construction. My friend, Derek, got a new dog. And yet there you sit like a little boy wishing only for sweets in his mouth. Here. Stay for dinner. Find your nature later.”

Jon ate the old man’s gruel, thinking of his face.



The old couple sat in lawn chairs in the skeleton of a house, partially framed. There would be a second story but not now—the carpenters had all gone home. They could’ve been anyone, as we all might, but at the same time, they were themselves particularly.

The new construction, at the end of a long, provisional driveway, was surrounded and hidden by a thick stand of oaks. Next to the house a small fire burned, feeding on the work day’s wood scrap. The unfinished house held its place awhile between oak tree and ash.

When the carpenters returned, the old couple turned them away. They would stay in their house the way it was; it was so pleasantly breezy and the sky was its ceiling. You don’t want it finished? the carpenters asked. Someday, they said. But when? they queried. No hurry, no hurry.


The Teachings of Lone Mt. Roshi

The old man emerged like steam off coffee, slow, kinda swirly. He looked like Ben Kenobi might look if Ben Kenobi had long white hair and a long white beard, so more like Gandalf but without the wizard hat. No lightsaber. But he did look rich with Force, though old and decrepit. In fact, he would have blended right in with the jagged desert rocks had he not steamed into slow, swirly emergence.

“Excuse me, sir. But are you Lone Mt. Roshi?” Jon asked him, wiping sweat from his brow.

“It depends who’s asking!” he cried and held his staff aloft. “I am no gold sandy beach for sunbathing tourists with cocoa butter and floppy hats!”


“Who’s asking?”

“My name is Jon, sir, and I have driven my Saturn Vue 3.6 miles and scaled these 600 feet to seek refuge in your wise council.”

“Do you know, Jon, when you’re smoking crack and your mind is racing about how you’ll obtain more crack before you’ve even enjoyed the boulder in your pipe?”


“This is not good. Think hard on this.”

“But—” But nothing, for Lone Mt. Roshi had dissolved into the rocks like cream in coffee.


Several years later, Jon drove his Saturn Vue 3.6 miles to summit, on foot, Lone Mountain’s 600 feet and Lone Mt. Roshi taught him how to tie a noose.

“No, dummy—over, then under, around, around, around. Like this!” All afternoon they tied nooses. When Jon tried to talk or ask questions, Lone Mt. Roshi gazed wordlessly at the Las Vegas Strip until the questions were no longer questions; they were nooses.

“There!” Jon had mastered noose tying as the dark swallowed the sun. Orange and violet death spasms. 

“Well done HA HA HA! Very well done, Jon. But what good is the perfect noose without sturdy, weight bearing beams in one’s garage?”



Several years later, Jon drove his Saturn Vue 3.6 miles to summit, on foot, Lone Mountain’s 600 feet and Lone Mt. Roshi was very pleased with Jon’s earnest will to pass through the Twin Gates of drug addiction and suicidal ideation.

“Addiction and death are but mendacious escapes from the wily labyrinth of selfhood! Merely artificial sweeteners when I have come seeking sugar!” Jon announced in keeping with a unified coffee metaphor.

“Very good,” said Lone Mt. Roshi, rubbing his beard and nodding slowly, “Next time, bring tea.”