Monday, September 17, 2018

Walking on rocks

             August to September 

That slivered moon there
to the east, doesn’t share much
of its fuller story.


the stained-glass rainbow 
in the corner of the window

arched in blue 
and that 

in broken layers
of white

like the fog at the ridge
the window frames

in front of the couch
set so to see 

the shapes that take 
day to day


Peace work: something true
that sets your place
in order.


Morning earth-walk

Sometimes a rush of recognition
both settles and excites, 
sets the tentative to certain,
relieves. Body and mind revived, 
open palms hold the same mystery
that grips needles north.


Solitary flowers signal celebration 
of the work of multitudes.


Stanislaus National Forest,
                         Emigrant Wilderness

First day, first night, five miles in,
eating after dark—Lilly Lake, unnamed 
on the map; no one knows but us.


Day two: Gem Lake, atop a scrape 
of dome, looking down:

the dark, the moon, the owl. 


As impervious to our presence as to 
passing winds, deer and bird tracks gather 
at the muddied edges of Jewelry Lake, 
waiting what’s been promised.


Up here,
what could
book have
to add ?


Moon makes claim 
by light alone, silent
giving, never taking.


Over the lake, 

  morning light,
       a long-winged raptor, 
               woodpecker work,
             and the rhythms 
                   of breaking camp.


Dinner with the Fisherman, on a rock,
sun on our backs, over-looking the lake.

Watching fish feed, he speaks of breakfast. 


By day five in the high country,
I pee mountain streams.


Wood Lake to Piute Junction

In the meadow in the pass,
aspen quiver hello—fields of fern,
shading pines, and willow.


Full moon watching
throughout the night
gives me the light
to write this.


I made the lists, sort of,
that the teacher suggests reveal
essentials, and found nothing
I didn’t already know, suggesting
the teacher already knew too
the most essential of them all:
get off your ass.


Some mornings I sit
in the front room, summer light
reflecting from sun-struck hills, releasing
what had been hiding in cycled-out darkness,
a bright quarrel of glare clearly wanting in,

not at all like the light that falls the other side 
of the house, monotone, a whispered wrinkle 
of suggestion I sometimes sit with too, 
aside a lit lamp.

That old sage Shinran discerned some twelve
dimensions of light. These are three
that I know.



only the heart
to tell what’s true
for you.


Night turns in the quiet cry of daylight’s loss, 
till morning revives the only promise it knows.

Darkness stays its secret, until sky cools
its fire, and we circle ours.


Seventy-five years unfold untroubled
in a troubled world; low clouds and cold currents 
call favored flannel back to play; Buddha’s names 
dance with morning songs: living having its way
with a smile today. 


those wondrous one-off free-flight lifts
of precious imbalance, slivered insights
into new horizons held steady till the next


A certain courtesy of heart

I tried today to live-stream
an inter-faith service for climate
concerns, but was soon pulled away
outside to listen

to the garden’s work, to sit, for me
to sit and to breathe to learn
what earth has to say

of all of this.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Sitting on rocks--

When they asked for a blessing, 
the slightest pause gave away
he wasn’t often asked this;

but he said rather easily 
to remember you don’t have to 
be Buddhist to be a Buddha,

and bid us safe travels.


—Hidden Lake, Desolation Wilderness

So tired, all we can do at 7,000’
is crawl into the bags,

writing, well before dark, to stay awake
for the first of the stars, 

to answer the cry of the sky
to silhouette pines

that circle the last of its light
on the face of the lake.


—At 8,400 ft

Tangled up at the edge of the lake, 
watching the winds ripple the water, 
and the leaves, pass though needles, 
over my skin, speaking in words 
welled up in me that I mistake 
for mine alone.


—Lower Selma Lake

The first stars arrive before dark,
high above the horizon in the south-west.

My young companion sits on granite 
and waits for what more may come.

I head for my tent, no longer embarrassed 
at the lack of resolve, hoping just to see 
the sky fully alight before my eyes 
have to close,

thinking too, that to be here at all 
marks a deeper intention

still alive and well, even at seventy-five.


In the high mountains,
deep breaths draw
the scent of green.


Swirls in the trunk
of the rotted tree, turn a knot 
into story.


Monday morning light
slips in slowly, waits just outside
still slumbering eyes.


Rain spittles
through the tent netting,
makes me get up to pee.


Grand daughter,
at the edge of womanhood,
stops by, we talk, she goes.


I’ve heard
from an entirely unreliable source
that the old man is the keeper
of secret archives
in the State of Everywhere,
so close by here we walk through
and barely notice—when you ask,
the direction shows itself—no one
accompanies because everyone
is already here—nothing pressing,
no where else to be.


“The most precious thing
in life is its uncertainty.”

                   Kenko, Essays in Idleness

Having nothing better to do,
I indulge the smooth slipping pen
and the scratch of its faulty grip
on the empty page filling,

its definitive swirls, the wake
of the words they’d hoped to be—

like so many streaks on a window,
found out in the light of the sun.


The rose in the small vase
on the altar falls limp but holds
its petals, mounded incense ash
too, silent and steady grey center
of the waiting wooden bowel, 
itself an act of reception, holding 
its place and its part, signaling 
reserves of praise and trust.


—after Lu Chi

That old Chinese poet
says thought
follows word, so
which voice
brought word first
for you 
to follow with your voice
which at first was
like bird-call,
then words
calling you and you
following there—after
word, thought, then you.


—Together in this…

The voice on the car radio
spoke of borderless citizenship—
fire smoke following all the way out
from mountains to bay and ocean,
sun setting deep orange ringed red 
with haze.

In the garden, a hummingbird sits 
along side, watching, five minutes 
or more, neither of us knowing 
what more to do, neither wanting 
to leave.


—Introductory Note…

Mine is the way of pen to page—self 
sustained therein by that support before 
the mind behind the frame of push and pen, 
words returning of themselves in praise 
of the world from which they came, pulling 
stroke to stroke into being, living unfolding 
inconceivably scented sacred, every thing 
and each one many in themselves, all 

speaking by way of the spoken.