hygienic dark retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

a book by andrew durham

formerly darkroomretreat.com




I am full to bursting
I am a dandelion drooping with dew
I am my swollen lower lip and quaking eyes,
lusting for her flesh and loins

I am a cat tensed to pounce
I am my skin stretched tight and tingling
over clean sinew and bone
My muscle strands stream over them
Like the river over stone

And it comes
To the sea
I am awash
I am alone
I am come to me


Words I cannot hold
For the stars shine right through them
It is the stars that I contemplate tonight

They are steady and quiet
While meteors and eclipses
Bustling this way and that
Fawn for attention

Their presence is subtle and final
To those who look
They are indifferent
To those who see
They are obliged

There is breath beneath your breath
And words
Beneath the words which escape you
Words that should
In every waking moment
Hum in your head

In stillness
One falls
Touches old bruises
And returns to the meanings of those

Who Needs It

– to the memory of Ayn Rand

By definition
I am conscious.

It can work
Only one way
It: everything there is
What is it?
Name it
The feeling of identification is pleasure
And nothing can alter that fact

I wanted so much to want
I could not break any laws
Then what?
Which way?
What had scattered the signs
From the roads that lead off from here
Could it mark them again

The thing to pull it all together
What would it be…
What would it be?
By definition

My Father Lives in Twin Falls, Idaho

I am not the kind
Who can walk down a main street with impunity
My body is a monolith
My blood stands still
The numbness is a forcefield
Which a draws a dangerous man close to me

I am going to the open desert
For safety
To be worn clean
So that I may never have to walk down a main street again

Right Now

The very best thing possible is happening
I am living

Food falls down my throat
And my chilled flesh
-it does not go to the bone anymore-
Warms in this temporarily benevolent fluorescence

I have just enough time to regain my direction
And the will to reenter a damp canyon
Where again
I’ll find the courage to sleep

To walk a mile
To go from this glow
To trees and a moonlit creek
Is to crumple into the hand of a giant
Who rests a world away

I am ready
This was worth six bits


I have collapsed into depravity
By way of prodigality
I hoped that you are fooled
And I hope that you are amused
By my efforts to nobility

Mine is the disguise of a spy
Who is about to depart enemy territory
For the last time
He is tired
More and more
He feels that he did not penetrate it
But that his own fatherland
Deeply screwed him

Ergo the appearance of a wastrel
Yes, I’ve squandered the money I’ve earned
But what I’ve been given
I’ve spent well

I’ve laid the plan
And collected the gear
I am vacating my place here
Listen for a whoosh
Then a crash
An implosion, I think
Will be a fitting end
To this place and this mask


No proper adjective
No possible qualifier
Common: Contradictory
Independent: Redundant
Pluralization: Impossible

Exclusion of the unwilling
By definition
His identity
Free, alone, complete
A city-state-nation unto himself

This… [lost lines] …

Quiet, he says
The mob absent
The comportment of his soul

The Words

Hear now the words
Which beseech thee to perceive their origins:

Dumb and still you were
Till their vibrations
Cohered inside your head

Flowering language
Trumpeted from every peak
Drowns if a child whispers them
In some lonely glen

The crickets and the wind will cease their own movements
And conspire to aid him
Lifting his feet
And covering their fall amidst enemies
Who writhe and languish all around

First the air into the lung
To start the friction for the tongue
To forge into a rapier drawn
Thy thoughts! behold thy foe hast gone

No potent threat can be heard
By the one who seeks and speaks these words

May I have this last dance?

I have my secret
And I am going
Do you hear?
I am going, I am going!

At last the boat docks and I depart
The oars and sails are my spokesmen
Do you listen?
They bid you adieu

You needn’t hear me say it again
For I am going
A thousand, thousand times you’ve heard it from me
But now it is true

I am going
I am going
I am gone


In the dark
In the deep
In the stone
In the keep

There is I
With the key
And the sky
Envelopes me

The sea’s drops
The Earth’s rocks
The jetty heavens
Time stops

Breathe in, breathe out
The seething din and the shout
Resonate in the settling calm
The tones, now heard
now dancing in my palm

Planet and World

Never have I considered these things as the same

Here is the planet, Earth
I can touch it
And live here
It sings to me
And if I break a limb
I bury it
And cease eating
And rise in three weeks

There is this world
—a coalition of polities on a planet—
In which people live unsecretly
There, we cannot hide what we are, what we do
It all comes out
It is all there
And look at it

Then there is the world that could be
Another world
Separate or greater
A world of freedom
That one can found

Tinder gathers on its blueprint
Some now aim their sparks there
A breeze collects itself

You will see others smeared with grey
Some walking
Some dead
Before the rains, everything will be grey
This new world will rise
From ashes

1999 – present

Eating Bitter

I see every truth
And every falsehood
Resolve to truth

Finally I am fed
By all this bitterness
For it was salt that grew it
Salt and humus
The blood of so many gone before

Including me
Yes I was here before
I wept and died here countless times
Horses would crush my body
And kick it into the canal
Where it would catch
On branches and barbed wire
And decompose into beds
For native flowers that never bloom
And malva and sheep sorrel and fat hen

That today
I sit by the water
In the seat of longing
And eat
And eat
Until the hunger is satisfied

Twin Falls 1999 Jul

Not Quite

What happens
If I tell you
That ecstasy always plays at my bones
Catches my breath
Wipes out history?

What will it be for me-
Cross or scaffold?
Do you have any idea
How much you hate purity?
How ferociously you cultivate
the drama of pain and achievement?

But this only provokes
Your “Work,”
As if, somehow,
God left something undone.

Grass’s benediction

Grass is benediction
To my feet

I had forgotten
Shoes clogged my brain

If you’re strong
You can eat it
Said the tough-footed boy

Across the valley
Bare-limbed disiduous trees
The beard of the hills

And the clouds
Write themselves
On paper

Audience With Myself

If I could meet myself
At this point in my life
I would place all my hopes in myself

My secret longing for the sacred
Would find second wind
In the clues falling from my lips
In the excited tension throughout my back
In my sweet wish to make love
To marry any one
Of the beautiful, perfectly loveable women I meet everyday
Everyone of whom I feel myself falling in love with

I would throw myself at my feet, sobbing,
Deliver me! Deliver me! You are my only hope!
I would beg all the saints
Disguised as the ordinary people
Who surround this self of my present
Please help him To help me,
To remember me
Remember all his own failings, which I am
Remember everything that led me to this point
Remember everyone like me
Sobbing at our own feet, Deliver me! Deliver me!

If I could meet myself at this point in my life
I would place all my hopes in myself
Seal my love
For myself, for life, for others, for this lovely Earth,
Seal it in wax
Feed it to the flame in the hearts
Of all our selves
Whom we might now meet at this point in our lives
Again and again and again and again

LV 2001 Mar


When love becomes a life and death matter
Even sweeping the floor is urgent

In washing the dishes
the universe hangs in the balance
Swallowing morsels of food
stuns and dumbfounds even the quick and articulate
A salad is a vision of god
And just sitting down is an act of war

Who is the gremlin
That gives things meaning?

It occupies my heart
It has locked itself in
It is making ransom demands
It intimates that you are in its care
But for how long?!

These things cannot, however, concern me
I lean back
Let the sun hit my neck
Like so many kamikazes
Coming in

Seattle 2001 Dec

2002.01.19, for B

Did I storm your yard?
I bid you relax
Then caught you off guard
Now I know the facts

Now your face is too much
Only your feet can play in my mind
These I can see and touch
Without going numb or blind

These rhymes spring from love
Won’t you believe this old heart?
Fly to me flitting dove
May we nevermore be apart

You are wine, I, a drunken cup
The sky opens and you pour down
At the first red drops I look up
At the receding blue before I drown

The crest and the trough

Waiting for an opening
And then
Into the breach

Endless controls
Waffling toward zero

I touch a place now
where I cannot
Move against my feeling

Satloka 2004 Jan

Corduroy Classic 2001

– for Micha Grainger

Youth, man: that’s IT
Said Micha

Micha chases a lost rabbit
The furbearer of his people

See his comical corduroy cap
His flaring pants
The missing white member
Of Fat Albert’s gang
Showing up late
The party’s second wind

Old-school court shoes
Improbably shined and flashing
Twisting on the carpet
Hands waving like daisies
Laughter springing up goofy
and hip:
For the people
For his people

Others chase their own dreams
Micha chases the dream of his people
Assured and fleet
On his lucky furry feet


There is no agency
—let alone free agency—
Only one long chain of life
Binding us all to its winding course

Belong to it!
Your strains against it
Only pull it tighter against the rest of us
Against we
Who will bear it smiling
Be assured

For what choice have we?
Strain, do not strain:
We belong
It has us
Has us

en route to Boise 2005 Aug 11

The Battle of Wounded Knee

– for Rob Bolman

The traveler of pregnant faith
Sets foot on the distant path
God is with him
God is with him

Sing god’s name with his
God is everything
And he is only dust
Yet sing their names together

Many hopes follow on his heels
Like friendly cats
Longing pours from his eyes
Unbearable tension rips his limbs from his body
But he pulls himself forward by his chin and forehead,
his abdomen and pelvis

God is with him
God awaits him
With prostheses that work better
Than the arms and legs
Of a born champion

This one will be made

Among the six billion cells of Maitreya’s body
This one finds his way home twice:
in leaving and in returning

Godspeed, traveler,
Closing his door and already far away,

Eugene 2006 Jan

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