What does it mean to love the earth, to love it in its unglamorous particulars, to get close to the sweet stink of our decay, the armpit of the world and its asshole? The planet isn’t real for me. It’s too big, too abstract. What’s real is the street I live on, the sky outside my window, the middle-aged man in the mirror still fighting a battle over whether to eat one more cookie.

Better the struggle than the pose. Better the skinny truth.

From the newspaper: a wealthy man, asked what are the three most important things in life, answers, (1) someone to love, (2) something to do, (3) something to look forward to.

Oh Freedom, I knelt at your feet but you said, Not now. So I threw myself at Love. Love said, Is it me you want, or Freedom?

The poem waited a long time. Waited while I got married and divorced and married again. Waited while I raised children. It curled up on the bed and read magazines.

I ask J. why he doesn’t teach a workshop on photography. “Because,” he says, “I don’t believe in my own strategies.”

The day puts its head on the desk, weary of itself and the promises it made. The day would like to hear a good joke about now, but the news is grim. The day could use a little love before night gets here, slips his silver key in the door, yells, Is dinner ready?

Remembering that sadness changes into something beautiful, something big, bigger than words; that sadness is warm, like the ocean that welcomes the setting sun, and full of dignity, like the mountain with its iron fist.

When I’m sentimental about life, death is an affront. When I’m sentimental about my illusions, life itself is an affront.

Scientists prove we’re hurtling away from each other, farther apart than ever. Yet what of the love that held us last night — like a single thought, like a point of light?

This loneliness a fact, like my breathlessness after a run.

N.’s personality is just another maze, but I can’t love her if I insist she not be the puzzle she is.

This body: a parenthesis in a sentence without beginning or end, who I am after death no less a mystery than who I was before birth.

Christ beckons me toward the window. All I see is my own reflection.

To kneel before You, not before Ms. Sex or Mr. Perfect Number.

The difficulty of being here, now, with this raw, indescribable moment. Memories sing my name: hard not to tap my foot to the beat. Hard not to peer into the future or to reach for N.’s warm body or for a clean, white sheet of paper.

What a struggle for one clear moment of awareness: shaft of sunlight, touch of grace.

I decided to take myself out to dinner but couldn’t make the time. And after everything I’ve done for myself, I thought bitterly: the therapy, the self-improvement books, the midnight walks in the rain.

Morning looks me straight in the eye, teases me again about the darkness.