When you’re talking about imagination, you’re talking about bringing something into being in your mind and having a clear enough vision of it and understanding it in all its parts well enough that you can bring it about into reality. And if you have a cheap, hurried vision, if you have a cartoon vision . . . then you will make a cheap vision . . . Some people put all their attention into visions of stuff that only has about one chance in ten quadrillion of happening, claiming it’s their artistic freedom.

Stephen Gaskin


A clear, attentive mind
Has no meaning, but that
Which sees is truly seen.

Gary Snyder


Walking the streets, looking for inspiration, the way I used to look for love. I never found love that way; what did I expect to find tonight? Something out there? We create our own frontiers — streets in the night, battlefields, strangers’ beds — and off we go, to explore. What a joke: looking for inspiration, while my soul blazes like a star and my thoughts give birth to worlds.

We create ourselves, at a level deeper than words suggest. But don’t they? Look at the letter; listen to the sound. I whisper who I am; in your ear, my breath is warm. I’ve cooked this up, between the inbreath and the out. Inspiration is, first of all, a “breathing in”: no wonder. With a deep enough breath, we create the world. In the beginning was the Word, the One we’re still pronouncing. It’s the deep sea roar, it’s the falsehood on our lips: the days of our lives, the words of our song.

Forget the words and you can fake it. But not for long. Hunched over the typewriter, one eye on the clock, I’m eternal, and I’m sweating it out. Then space opens its fist, I’m neither in nor out, not who I imagine, yet imagined by my Self. The hum of things continues. I’m the kiss of life — if only for this moment, to this moment I’ll cling.

Pounding the keys. Not for the sake of “art” or “revolution.” I wish to flatter neither myself, nor you. Leave the uniform, cultivate no style. “It is fatal,” writes Theodore Roethke, “to woo yourself,/However graceful the posture.” See through me: length of hair, thickness of tongue, transparency upon transparency. This is the sea of my becoming. To know all, to drown in it, to burn and make the cinder of my heart a pillow for the night. I am a dying image resurrected in your eye — not who I was when I began this, but neither are you. I am the blessed dead; give me your blessing. Push and kill me. Teach and tear me. We are the Ancient One. I ask for nothing; if I am nothing, I am born. With a joyful music, a cry and a tear.

And now it’s morning. I catch myself rocking back and forth like the old men praying and chanting in the synagogue. When I was a boy, it seemed funny. Now, I understand: they had rhythm. I’m inching toward them, day by day, becoming the music I was meant to be — the young boy laughing, the old man laughing, the man between.