Unspoken Word
June 20, 2021

I am the proverbial tree that has fallen in the forest,
no one around to hear if I have fallen or not,
I am also the moss upon which the tree has fallen,
and the sky
and the birds in the branches just a song's distance away,
not to mention (which I have just done),
all of those clever teachers wondering
if this is a strong enough metaphor to use at their next retreat.

Who, may I ask, is listening to the sound
a tree makes when it falls and does it really matter,
especially when you consider that the homeless person
you have just passed on the street needs a hug
and your tomato plants need watering?

Is it the tree falling in the forest we need to be listening to
or the ones who listen
or, maybe, just maybe, the little known fact
that there is absolutely no difference
between the tree, it's falling, the listener, what's heard,
and what's said about what's heard?

This, my friends, is why dancing exists.

How about we all meet, tonight, at my place,
drink champagne, listen to Pavarotti,
find the nearest forest
and all fall down?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2021

I have finally understood what my profession is --
I'm a stripper.
I strip away everything that is unnecessary,
whatever separates me from myself and others,
and whatever I forget to strip away
is stripped away for me,
any way you look at it, I'm a stripper.
Completely naked on a good day,
I'm not sure where the money goes.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2021

Desire is wanting what we don't have,
longing is wanting what we do,
but if we knew how much we already had,
we would have it all,
so much so, that a million lifetimes
would not be enough to give it all away.
Here's a simple as it gets:
There is an underground spring within us all,
the waters of life that quenches all thirst,
and the only thing we need to do is drink.
Yes, the world that surrounds us is beautiful,
but only if we are,
otherwise, it is just the centrifugal pull
of wandering away from ourselves,
the merry-go-round ring always out of reach,
the thought of love, but not the love itself.
You can marvel at the stars all you want,
you can praise a single blade of grass,
but it is only because your eyes are open
that any of this matters.
God's nature is, undeniably, a gift,
the earth, the sky, the butterfly,
but it is only human nature that allows us to open it,
the impulse to see beyond the wrapping and be seized,
pirates on our own ship of this moment's sailing,
passengers on the long journey home,
having arrived by already being there.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2021

Upon moving from Woodstock to Catskill, New York three days ago and getting quite a workout lifting, carrying, tossing, selling, and noticing 26 years of my possessions, I came across three boxes, in the garage, of old journals of mine -- some going back more than 40 years -- moon howling rants, late night ramblings, incantations, Rumi-infused ecstasies, madman utterances, lists, plans, notes, drawings, and other outtakes from own suburban Mahabharata.

I thought of throwing them out, not wanting to pray at the Golden Calf of Memory, but something stayed my hand and so I lugged them to my new abode. Usually, when I lug these journals around, as I have done for 40 years, I stash them in a closet or a basement. But since I have only one small closet and no basement here in the town that time forgot, I removed them from their boxes and placed them on the bookshelves in front of my desk -- my feral children, my orphan brothers, my mendicants, madmen, and monks. And every day I look at them, at least their spines, hesitating to pull one off the shelf, not wanting to disappoint what remains of myself with the half-baked jibberish of my soul's longing to express the ineffable.

There's something in me that prefers the honeymoon phase of life -- the realm in which the promise of love is so much more magnificent than the earth plane experience of it. Anyway, as I head towards 74 and, soon enough, the second wall, I totally get that there is no excuse for not opening these tomes and seeing what's in them, even if the perfectionist in me gets hugely disappointed. And so, this evening, that's exactly what I did. I opened the green one and paged through it until I found something I wrote that was close enough for prime time to share with you today. I cleaned it up a bit, removed some of the clutter, riffing, and self-indulgence that has stalked me most of my life. And so here it is for you, my friends. I'm not really sure what it is. It's not poetry. It's not a story. It's not a prayer. It's not a song. It's not going to make it to my next book, should I live that long. It's more of a sand mandala of words that came to me like a flock of birds, a murmeration of my soul. Here goes:

"What this existence is all about -- my own self-invented scripture no one will ever read -- needs no jabbering disciples to argue its fine points over what I meant by saying nothing, the next day congregating, as they have long been accustomed to doing, just a little too studiously, and debating whether or not we should start our own religion or speed dial the nearest sage sweeping up this morning's sand mandala just before the BIG interview with CNN.

Yes, indeed, it was that kind of moment I was having? So I grabbed what used to be a tree (where birds sang), but now was a notebook, and opened it, like a rose, to a random page and wrote, my sudden revelation taking form, a kind of kidnap letter to myself, though there was no me, no my, no mine, just the caretaker of a knowledge every jazz musician since the beginning of time knows in their bones. That's what I'm talking about, brothers and sisters -- why animals get extremely agitated just before a tsunami and I am left homeless with only my breath held high above the heads of anyone who has ever prayed without words or played, Jerry Lee Lewis-like, an upright piano, alone in a room, the bouncer at the door, a heavy-lidded man with a scar on his cheek, refusing to let anyone in, him not wanting anything I play to be misunderstood or any side conversations going on, my left hand not knowing what my right hand is doing, the night shift cleaning up, as the space between day and night opens wider, a kind of red sea parting in the underground kingdom of love.

I must say, with all due respect, I was a bit surprised at how little of what I knew to be true made it to the page, writing as I was with a kind of invisible ink, with still the faintest glimmer of wanting to say something meaningful enough to sign my name to and feel good enough to die. Space. Lots of space. There was lots of space. And lots of silences between the space, each one an orphan from a place now spinning in great circles around me.

What did I write that night in the underground kingdom of love, bouncer with the scarred cheek standing guard at the door, letting no one in? What holy hieroglyphic made its way to the page, my right hand twitching, my left hand hitchhiking elsewhere? Are you sitting down, my friend? Are you ready to receive the shortest scripture ever written? Four words. That's all I wrote that night, none of them longer than four letters. One of them only two, my entire revelation a kind of speechless tourist meeting Miles Davis, backstage, on opening night, with only enough time to say hello.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

“I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry.”
— John Cage

Welcome to my new blog — brief ruminations on what it is that moves me (and maybe YOU, too). If any of my poems inspire you, please forward them to friends. Good muse travels fast. Or could, with your help.

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