Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Home ground


               poems—May 2018



Home ground.
To live where no place
isn’t that.


**


The trails in the hills are dry now, 
creek beds wet and moving. 
Nettles stand out, at least two
of the family, along outside edges,
patches and stands of poison oak.

Overgrowths 
of deep-throated Yerba Sant 
kiss our steps  

with delicate white petals—there’s more,
of course, so much more unfathomable fullness 
that senses stretch to a singular gasp.


**


Robinson Jeffers accused himself
of a “harder mysticism,” a world needing nothing
of man’s to sustain the wholeness of its beauty,
including man’s.


**


Fresh corn bread
as it cools, just before
the shell sets…you know.


**


Buckeye buds from pink to white, 
from bottom to top, from there 
to the air.


**


from the fruit trees,
pulling curled, misshapen leaves,
especially bunched bleeders, 
so sunlight can do the work
I can’t begin to do


**


Clouds these past days
push from the west against the ridge,
hold there with chill.
Shadowed hills less inviting,
gardening more easily postponed,
errant patches of sunlight murmur 
remembrance of the inevitable.


**


Dry trails, wet boots, a wet beard, 
all tell pre-summer stories here. Sunless
blankets of fog—the bay a dream—ocean 
gone—but light, ah yes, light always allows.


**


the passing of books from a friend 
passed

gentle as dawn searching itself 
complete

fingers and eyes catch this, turn that,
let go, covet—

quiet waking to the walk underway, 
warm in prayers

another’s words, music 
for a heart not alone


**


what we look for, each of us, he said,
is affirmation—the mistake
is to turn to argument—
it’s in the beauty


**


Thinking about it, about making statements
of how it is for me, seems, after thinking
about it in light of the mysterious, ie., 
unknowable nature of the unstoppable
motion-flow of this living-dying experience
holding us, thinking about this way makes me
think, to speak the petals that flutter
may say more than trying to trace the tree.
Falling petals, after all, do remind our eyes 
to turn upward.


**


conflict, fear, opposition
and the natural desire to overcome,
to relieve ourselves of these, to realize
freedom—is the state of things for us


**


the browned leaf tremors, bamboo
taken in wind only today’s

so unremarkably common
as never to be repeated


**


Don’t ask me
about direction,
I just follow my feet—

wherever we go
they seem to know,
even without a map.


**


I dreamed once about a white path.
Flames lick at one side, waves threaten
the other. Behind, all the decisions ever made
to get you to right here.

A familiar voice urges. Another 
calls—the path, the only promise 
you can count on.

I woke up then, swung waiting feet
over the side, where they walked.


**


Is stardust then kind of like the universe
passing gas—and if so, what does it mean to say 
the universe manifests us ?


**


the tongue releases reality’s tissue
into air carrying the common’s dreams,
there, shared or not


**


The gracious gesture does not go unnoticed, 
especially when under-appreciation is 
most noticeable.

Living in fields of opposites, as we do, does not
mean we are stuck with a life of this over that.

In delicious tastes, intervening tensions sustain
an unspeakable space of broader connectives.

The graciousness of unattributable presence
breathing all and every.


**


In the dream I lay stretched out, sharp-cut grass 
under my chin, pen in hand, readied. I move 

spot to spot, listening, writing, hearing roots hum 
earth’s names: no thing ever is turned away here.


**

It occurred to me

while reading of the life of a Spanish immigrant
to France, schooled there, who in 1906 comes
here a youth to learn of democracy and to be
a cowboy, and who does, and who becomes 
as well an expert ethnomusicologist, a linguist
and poet and keeper of songs 

of the multiples of peoples native to this place 

it occurred to me what better place to plant 
the tongue of Buddha’s names, what better place 
than this that’s absorbed so much of so many—

why not these songs too…


**

One day either way
would have made

another way
this life was made.


**


Through the one window
to the south, moon light

dapples soft carpeted floor

surrendering bared feet.

Friday, May 18, 2018

plain wood

              spring poems
                    April-May 2018





sunlight—bellies—passing birds


**


Longing so for a compelling voice,
when all the while, there is one.


**


morning dew drinks
newly opened 
lupine


**


The chattering mind
is just that—no more, no less.
At times it’s quiet.


**


I can’t see the smoke
from the incense, but no one
can say it’s not there.


**


Morning light makes its way
in ways words can’t follow,
except in saying so.


**


Buddha says
no place to arrive
is just where we want to be.


**


I don’t really remember
seventeen, but almost sixty
years later don’t feel my steps
that much heavier—stars
and blue sky seem always
to be sending enough.


**


Recognition isn’t just
what mind thinks; ask body
what it remembers, breath
what it can tell.


**


Once I sat where Ryokan sat, in foliage
so thick cicadas built castles there
and thumb-nail frogs guarded 
the steep path down from the well 
for the temple he cared for
when not busy finding poems.

I’ve wondered since then
if he looked where cicadas
pointed, or followed those frogs.

I know he didn’t look to poetry—
because he said so.


**


A busy crow rattles the morning so,
I close the window.


**


If realization speaks 
unselfconsciously,
will we hear our own?


**


Breeze glides, freely itself this morning,
along with tips of branches,
some quivering leaves
and that openly resolute
window.


**


Miyazawa Kenji wrote

“a catalogue of what he saw
as he walked one day…,”

wrote of the timing
of bifurcation of rice 
sprouts in times of drought,
of grey water, and
of waiting—

he felt precision always 
requires a date.


**


These chilly mornings.
Without being told, I move
toward the sun’s touch.


**


Wisteria blossoms
beginning to dry, flutter
and glow to sunrise.


**


Go ask the scholars.
I know nothing of strategies,
just push the pen.


**


We breathe
despite transgressions
both large and small.

What does one
say to this?


**


What then, when morning walks
are of the past—well, will morning
still be?


**


brushed-red yellow roses,
clustered thorns

beneath a stained-glass
Buddha 

on a white lotus,
shadowed 

by almond branches 
and a single leaf 

falling


**


Buddha’s light

as walked
casts no
shadow


**


After Santoka

seeds dropped
sprout where they fall—
troubles upon troubles


**


The open journal, patient
till just now, the flower 
on the altar—the books, 

a bit out of reach, still

holding everything 
they have to say.


**


Even with no rain, weeds pull.
But that lady bug 
holds fast.


**


Squirrels get the almonds
this year without a fight, green fuzz
for the taking.


**


Haiku is honing
to the core what’s said, not
what one wants to say.


**


My son returned home
because all he sought was here.

His story is mine.


**


Which parent is it
that leans over the parent
leaning over the crib
breathing into the infant
life     bearing    words   


so that, then, every word
is praise, every voice 
the parent’s song.


**


Syllables are joint points
that enable words

to do what they need to do
to return to silence.


**


The poem’s function 
is to reveal the unspoken,
give “way” to language.


**


And when Buddha’s Name came up,
he said, there isn’t any name
not Buddha’s.


**


a spot, a moment
on the hillside, sunlight
through the clouds


**


In a second, for a minute,
the neighbor’s chickens stop

clucking


**


unbidden doubts
like clouds

lift to nothing
when met aware


**


Light

is grace.

Be still

so as not to make
of yourself

something else.


**


Looking around the room
at the many books, stacked 
and folded papers, wondering

what they’ve said over this time,
their silence telling me
that’s my story.


**


The anthology, that broader conversation,
indulges free association, encourages
distracted responses, often precipitates
longing for a table for two.


**


Words folded over themselves
with too much logic,
choke.


**


I reach for the pen because flowers
reach for sunlight—to live and to die 

as flowers do…