Monday, September 21, 2015

August into September--ordinary intimacies

August into September, poems
of ordinary intimacies…

pink blossoms 

bounce along the fence, 
ripple, finally find repose, 

simply still


August 6th

Night was long wakefulness,
somehow restful, fog fingers now in the ridge 
to the west, morning sky blueing, cloudless.

The Buddha taught, I think,
the world’s suffering, our own, 
cannot for most finally be resolved, 

but can be faced with equanimity,
for the joy, love and fellowship 
found there also—this, 

we can do.


August 10th

In my absence, my wife pruned the blossoms
where the hummingbirds come to hum. I’ve seen them
return to wonder, as so often we do, at the change,
at loss, seen them in those hovering moments 
before recovery, before reconnection to the reliable 
stream of living inquiry, reconnection to question, 
to what is this, where will it lead, to 
whatever comes next.


August 11th

Mist and fog lay heavy
on the streets here, 
certain signs of summer
finally arrived in full,

the obscured view 
affirmed as real, as true, as
no, we do not see clearly.

Filtered light tells us so.


8/13—Sam Hamil, on Galen Garwood:

         “ He has remained patient, an artist more interested
          in process than wealth, a seer alone…, alone 
        and taking notes.”

And so we return, we see, we watch, 
respond and again return—not so much discipline 

as extended natural curiosity, 
unending tentative touching, taking notes.


Before the sun, horizon. 
Then, pink clouds.


August 19

Garrulousness, yes, perhaps, at times. But I’m told 
real poems shed words like leaves too heavy
to stay till the breeze lets go. 


Unable to touch
a safe place, fatigue
has its way.


From uncertain shifts amidst burnished shadows,
light collects, 




August 20

How many the telling signs

before hearing 
tolling bells

calling our name 



We’re tired, real tired, so
except to reach for the news paper,
the gate will stay closed,
the phone shouldn’t bother,
nor emails either.

Old age has it own ways.
While often ignored, there are times,
without excuse, it simply will not
be refused—good friends 
can do like that.


That old monk hobo
holds out his bowl

without apology—how well
do you hold yours?



Outside, through
the open
window, dogs,

small dogs bark
in morning 
air, without

any thought
of how far
that endless

stretch of air
will carry
voice along.

What of us,
our voices,
do we know?


Looking over
at the altar
where the flower
sits in its vase,

remembering incense
not yet lit, intentions
not realized
but for this remembrance,

wondering if that’s enough.


When I finally realized
how much I’d relied
on my friend as a teacher,

it became clear 
I’d known all the while
it never occurred to her.



The way
I understand

is punctuated

by the fact that

not one of us is ever
lost forever.


Just as we find our way again,
we look first to our feet

before lifting our eyes 
to horizons now somehow new.


September 2

Time passing does not mean something missing.
I mean, when an old friend calls, just answer.



A moment, a day even,
turns more to its own
given clarity

when someone passing 
nods at even the smallest flutter
of meanings we hold close.

Therein, the gateways
to how much
we share.


The winds that’ve been
have left with the night, leaves,
small branches and litter

gathered in shaded corners, 
huddled conversations of time 
gone by so fast.


September 6

Lay facts on me if you must. I promise to consider,
but know I will bend to hold 
only a few,

but for the image, the impressed influence
carried there in themselves, integral to each,
to its own meaning.

Along side the moments at hand, the given.

That we are at all, and as we are, always 

drenched undeniably in light.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

July 2015

July 5th, Sunday

Each day carries the one before
into the next, leading expression

never entirely its own, but its own enough 
to claim, beginning to end, 

both date and name.


July 6 is a Monday here,
breaking light and fog and dew

that lay a sheen on streets
that whispers passing tires wet,

careful too, to not say more 
than what’s known.

And what if we could live
like this, caring enough

that patient readiness 
becomes the mark of wisdom

and the insistent voice,
the cut of doubt.

And what if we could live as if
democracy’s mark

were an attentive ear?


International Peoples’ Tribunal 2015
Heart is to breath as breath is to voice as voice is to story.

Nations purport to be of laws, but people are always of story. 
Spoken and sung and listened to,

we overlap, we make peace, open avenues of justice
and heal

telling our stories as heard, we learn beyond
where pencils break, where boundaries fade.

Singing our stories we lend of ourselves our hearts
to song as heard by hearts 

already there; telling our stories 
we hear our healing together;

speaking our stories we dream of the dreams
that only our hearts can hold.

Heart is to breath, as breath to voice, voice to story

and story to remembrance of our original intention.


For Janet

They’ve begun
to slip in now,

passing through 
suddenly emptied skies,

of those gone
with the years
we all follow.

God’s speed
old friend’s
little sister.


I pray,

I think, 

though some 
say one 
ought not 
have to, 

it’s not 
like that 
for me. 

For some-
times one 
might feel 

thanks in 

for things 
from no 
one in 

I do.


As humans, others’ loss and suffering can become our own,
if we let it. If so, is this burden or opportune; if so,
what does this say of the state of the world
and the hearts that range
in and about it?


religion, politics, poetics

I put my trust in LIFE—all caps—
and return my living to this LIFE 
without limits

which unfailingly enfolds all things,
all beings, as worthy
in themselves.

I remember and return to this
because of all I don’t know,
can’t ever know.

But for this: aggression, yours
or mine, cannot be trusted;

suffering ought never
be ignored;

and solidarity means the movement
of the voice of tenderness

toward and among us.


After William Everson

is knowing when
to stop, 

how to leave the words 
at the gate of the silence
where poems reside.


Cid Corman said,

“If this is divinity,
best make the most of it.”

John Muir Wilderness

Stepping out into night air 
to pee,

the Milky Way 
arcs across the sky so high

only dew-light falls 
far enough 

to touch. 

And finally we see them, this morning,
three young bucks, who’ve spent their nights
in circular sweeps of needles 
under nearby pines 

that seem to have protected us all.

Long deep nights, sleepy mornings 
of musing and the slow promise 
of coming sunlight—together.

Sitting on the western shore of Steelhead Lake,
watching the curved cirque of rock that tops
at 10,600’—there this morning, small fish

break the surface with muffled plops, muted peaks
burst with the first catch of sunlight 

and a hushed silence 
tempts the waiting voice.

Winds come up around 5:00, well before dinner, 
temperatures drop in chill enough 
for jackets and caps

and the moon moves over the ridge, behind the trees, 
to hide till stars come out—so slow, the turn here, 
so slow.

You have to be here to hear it. 
But you can actually hear 

who you are.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

June 2015

June 2015

Of wind and breath

As wind is to breath, breath is to wind 
and we in turn to the many things 
met along their way.


What is this

there that takes 
each breath’s empty end 

and lifts it to the next?


Children seem to know 
what we struggle 

to remember: a world created 
reveals the self 

who dwells there.


Each life’s living
moves beyond itself.
Each always more.


I’d vow to give up the nonsense,
but I’ve vowed before
so many things

that maybe nonsense 
defines them all—but, this morning,
a crow 

I could not see, but knew 
to be near, a crow unseen called
so clear

that any vow I might have made
brimmed to full
right there.


Hope has a role, I suppose; but gratitude offers firmer ground.


Legacy—what the poet said—

that things left behind
wake silence lain latent

in presences now gone.


She said, the world sometimes confirms,
mostly not; but adjustments, though fleeting, 
can be satisfactory—the secret: to not demand

so much 

that the unplanned 

can’t be enough.


The prayer flags are frayed. Sunlight splays 
the porch railing, lays along fingers holding a pen.

Blues pour from inside shadows, a dove calls
from shaded limbs, and that orange and black butterfly

holds the warmth of wooden siding. 

Colorado Springs means friends.


Stepping into the morning air, the limbs of the pine 
still, the sky blue, silent, he stops, breathes,

thinks of prayer, of the hum within the hush of himself,
of beginnings already begun, intentions recalled

and day already complete.  


And yet again another of the poets moves me to sentences
like these that pour from pen’s end to white and lined and dimpled 
pages creased by the weight of telling thoughts 

impressed—sprung organic from logic-sparked currents 
through tongue and fingers in directions well-taken to follow, 
if what we want to know of is ourselves in the world.

Listen here, watch just a bit more closely that guiding working 
its magic, even if seemingly silent, even when directed center.
Watch. Sentences rock.


The last day together tends to quiet 
the walk for the Sunday paper,
accent pancakes and coffee 
and make music of its own enough
to dampen the need to disturb the air 
that brims to full that hold
between us.


Taos to Santa Fe

Waking late 
in the darkened room, 

we crack the blinds to blue 
sky sun light 

and coffee 
garnished with powdered creamer.  

Beggars can’t be choosers, they say, 
and the Masters 

did not wish to be—what a fine way 
to start our stay 

here in Taos. We tell each other 
of our dreams.


Poet-teachers and what they’ve done with the pen
is not as compelling as what has kept it moving 
for them—I listen for that.


In the tangle of nerves that passes for norm, 
we turn another way, lean in to trace each shift full through 
to its end, to the next. Everything real is here.


Through the blinds I can see sunlight on shadowed leaves,
scattered spores of blue and the earth-toned stucco wall
of the living room patio faintly dappled.

Like trying to capture air in a screened box, we try to keep 
time, even when there’s nothing to hold, living as if 
loosing count of our heart beats 

means we loose life.

A teacher once said the depths of the natural functions
of all we are, of all we behold, are as deeply integrated
as impenetrable. But we can encounter telling glimmers,

if only we take them as given, and let them go as they will.


The Pueblo at Taos Mountain
has been inhabited since 1350 AD.

Those who live here now 
still drink Red Willow Creek.

And to the west, the Rio Grande 
cuts gorges into the earth.

Time is long here. Days hold everything.


Prayers for South Carolina

The Santa Fe River runs the city center
from east to west, reaching steadily 
for the Rio Grande which runs its way 

south—even before the smoke settles, 
televised pundits attempt to advise 
that guns are not the problem. 

But river banks reveal history 
as readily as day’s flows speak 
to current circumstance. 

Time listens to both.


     “From here on, 
         may everything 
                  be beautiful.”

The Navajo people
make morning offerings 
with words like these,

so I might sing with mine

of the aspen at the river
and the willow too,

of the juniper’s fruit
tangled in vine,

of the promise of heat
at water’s edge,

of reliance given
and of frequent touch.

May everything be beautiful.


Words reveal our conversation 
with the world—the poet’s job, to listen.


It’s July…the first…and

after morning’s walk, still within the reach of a single stick of incense, 
mind touching page, on and off, here to there, breath unlabored, writing. 

Coffee cools, the pen moves—questions rise, pass, rise and pass 
again—off-pink petals watch from along the fence.

Then, on my knees, sunlight whispers, 
across my hands a testimony, a record 

of personal witness. That all manner of meaning 

need only be taken as given.