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Your poetry is rich and rippling -- dappled; moving awkwardly, gracefully, as humans so often do, through the relentless darkness and yet also through the startling splashes of light that sometimes grace us in spite of everything, filtering down through the branches above, warming our skin for a moment and asking us to wonder if perhaps after all, we are touched, we are held . . .

Thank you especially for your bravery in airing a couple of "taboo" issues I have never quite allowed into my own public poetry --- in particular, that terror of hell, of being hellbound . . . . How to admit that this vestige of Sunday School got programmed into us for real, got its tentacles so deep into us as to strangulate the spirit, and now resists our every cerebral-logical-grown-up effort to exorcise it?

And thank you also for the wonderful, frightful image of the squirrels upstairs! -- those creatures who seem like a waking nightmare, like a damned infestation set on overrunning and dissolving us, until they, too, experience the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom and grow docile, awed, incapable of harm.

Your suffering, your journey toward some tenable relationship with the numinous, remind me of (1) the Hasidic conviction that Hashem, ruach ha'olam ("The Name," breath of the universe) is nearest to us when we are deepest down in our fright and despair, in that place where no light seems to penetrate; (2) the journey of the shaman in various societies: as recounted by Joseph Campbell. In our own society this haunted, fragmented young madman would surely merit a psychiatric diagnosis, a sheaf of prescriptions. But in fact his horrific distress, his seeming disintegration, is simply the shattering that must occur so as to initiate the healing gifts that will bring him honor and gratitude from all the suffering people of his culture who ultimately come to him for rebirthing.

Your poetry is a powerful medicine, perhaps inextricable from the trauma and terror you have endured. Your wholeness shines through your brokenness. It beckons mystically, indefinably, to all of us who have been similarly broken and ruined; who have at the same time, paradoxically, been called to spread our wings and utter "Father," to rise up singing after all . . . .

apples