Monday, January 1, 2018

poems from before 2018



For Sandino, and Shel Silverstein

twelve and twelve and 
twenty-four and rhymes
and rhythms may mean more
than any meaning ever can

at five and again at seventy-five
together we follow together the flow
of reciprocal streams 

that only love can know


**


that time of morning
color’s whispers can be heard
if you turn, just there


**


those rhythms 
before heartbeats 
beget butterfly breaths


**


winter’s street lamp shadows 
stretched thin with memories 
of summer


**


I’m not so certain, beyond writing,
what makes one a writer after all, or
what difference designation as such
makes, or in the end doesn’t make
in the wake of continuing writing
saying what it does in itself, or 
of itself or of those of us 
simply continuing that way 
just the same…


**


The furnace whispers winter,
cookies speak of Christmas, 
and coffee, coffee just swallows.


**


The painting of the Chinese Master
at work in candle light,
looks down at the first of many photos 
of our eldest granddaughter,

she wrapped tightly against all things
too new, he likely pushing hard
to capture all the more, 
the new…


**


Tell me, tell me do
what it all means for you

and I’ll surely try to do
the very same for you.


**


The year closes in on itself
a blanket of fog so thick
everything is cloud-closed,
spreading only where made to,
people and things held, yet not 
held, depending on where 
and when one happens.

Every direction the same, 
movement alone determines.


**


Leaves still hold to the oak 
standing aside the Real  
fronting the pizza shop 

just after sun down’s
new found need 
for star light

to hold its place
till coming night turns
back again.

Soft-breezed rattles,
the last of leaf language, 
can only suggest.



**

Morning is cold again, 
the hands-in-pockets kind
that pavement repeats 
for the feet.

The 7 o’clock sky streaks pink
just the same, waiting
in sun’s wintered approach

that allows cold its due
in the broader sweep 
that is the all of this.


**


Half way through the walk,
my legs wake me to the dream
I’m in—there lost in inner mists
then illumined in itself
in the light that holds 
its place in the day,
not lost at all.


**


beyond the need to know
and be known, the mark of true

experience is anonymity

Friday, December 22, 2017

Where words don't go



the old poet—he’s up there
where the trail gets lost in mists

where words are swallowed 
whole, is where he goes


**


while the weather people speak
of rain’s arrival, sky suggests 
stories with less certitude 

wherein facts of matter speak 
for themselves, despite 
presumed absurdities

native peoples hereabouts
might hear hints of coyote here


**


the passion vine chokes
the many branched almond tree

the way a single poetic form
could, might, rob a mind

of spring’s pledge to open growth

or maybe not


**


after dinner clouds 
clear enough 
for stars 
to present night-fall


**


to be of help
in all endeavors
to make the world
a better place

                 —John Coltrane


**


11-11-17

—for Juan Carter

I don’t keep in touch with friends very well,
save an email here and there,

some poems now and then, 
infrequent with the phone,

but do think of them

a thoroughgoing wholeness,
rim-full to a tear drop—

and now, one is gone


**


a tree falls in the forest
and no one is there
to hear…

well, whose ears,
which lips, anyway,
make a poem?


**


“rock-face prayer, in ink and water”
                         —-Jerome Rothenberg


make of me
what you will
mystery


**


poetry is the conversation accompanying 
the words being spoken


**


rain throughout the night
quits its run when hillside lights
quit the quitting night


**


Psalm

There are the words, almost breathless
sounds I’ve heard, the curled lips 
and dusted white of what we know 
as wall flower, low to the ground 
of resonant roots whose work 
is the scent of perfume.


**


if giving all we have is the essence
of service, any direction everywhere
counts


**


In a small sliver
of un-curtained window
in our bedroom, stars
sometimes spend the night.


**


like the call of geese 
coursing through our ears 

sky does touch, and we too 
touch back


**


The way light glistens
in running water’s play with rocks,

what can be said of the sun in this, 
of the twist and turn of creek bed ?


**


If the teacher’s life doesn’t speak,
how can we expect the teacher to ?


**


The wail first catches the throat,
tears from there the sound
needed to hold the pain.


**


Fallen rose petals 
lay among the almond leaves,

catch wintering mists.


**


And so the breeze stops, 
haltingly at first, then done,
moon, unseen, rises.


**


Don’t let them fool you,
those Buddhist poets were not all 
recluse Zenists—and even if,

who could tell, 
after so much 
not said ?


**


She doesn’t so much “shop”
as linger here to there
to see what calls imagination
out to play.


**


Translation: words
are the events our world
calls us with.


**


curled leaves gathered outside
the front door, crunch greetings
to all who pass through


**


Sleep-filled nights slip away
the way others do, 
leaving fewer traces.


**


as if moonlit skies
clear the air for morning’s light
its own place to play


**


the real reason for a poem
is that it says


**


where the guiding principle
of this tradition lies
is in question:


**


small songs, each a breath
of the larger stream

leave little left to sing
but the next


**


seeing your short-comings
in light of all that holds you close
just the same


**


before morning dew 
lifts its voice before 
sunlit skies take hold 

the day I hear

turns me that way