Wednesday, February 14, 2018

days grow...into February

—February 1, 2018

where were you when the moon turned red
in the shadow of our passing 
before the sun


horizons meet sky earlier today
speak to the pink of slow-coming light

whose day-turning voice 
makes old to new

an unanswerable question 
of untellable joy


From where I sit, the moon. 
Hillside homes, sun’s rays—touch, warmth. 
Affinity, glow.


Song of My Self

The last thing I recall before letting go
is the lack of question, grip loosed into 
inevitable embrace—elements, all elements, 
every energy and field ever, each following 

inherently inscribed inclinations, enhanced
by all others in relation—our sense of is-ness, 
each unrepeatable subjectivity, a blessing 
upon us all.


one value of the attitude of

is space, space enough 
to notice enough

to care


puddles collect dreams
streets don’t like to share

passing stars keep watch
for signs of daylight


the darkness the other side the window
reflects the lighted room mirror-like

the exact opposite image exactly opposite me
exacting the fathomless mystery
behind it all


Squinting into afternoon sunlight
a satsuma orange, the last, peers
out from under a part in the green
right into my eyes—we pause,
then lean as if not noticing.


the phrase has generative power
the sentence cannot properly hold, end point
leaving breath bereft of traction enough 

to reach through to the next, 
exhaustion the only remaining meaning, 
remaining unsaid


first to blossom each year,
the almonds—seventeen
syllables of thanks


Omine Sensei…

as he walked, bowed low
to each blossom, close, intent,
asking for its name


Words and our relation to world,
unfathomable, succinct, leaf-like.


The ancient Buddhist philosophers believed the longest measure 
of consciousness related to sense perception consists of seventeen
thought-instances, each briefer than a lightening flash—how curious 
the measure of haiku.

          The magic of seventeen syllables 
          cannot be attributed.


If it can’t qualify as haiku,
then let’s call it
a short poem.


almond and plum
flower the garden
into early spring


pruning back branch tips
just before buds show—thinning
waits for longer days


once it came, no one complained
that the light was too dim


the report back

numbers, always numbers,
countless and bloodless

without the stories, stories breathing 
life to faces coming clear,

coming up from under the overwhelming 
to find someone’s eyes there

—February 10, 2018

Sunday, February 4, 2018

always this

leaves brown
        bare their trees

  all the more obvious in old age
           fires burning 

      a different kind of heat


made me think of our first born
how he looked when first we met

how right the universe is
to stick to its own standards

of beauty and gift


rain leans in

free falls

from the trellis top
to the blue tarp
a’top patio chairs

taps patterns
of dream songs

of forgotten promises
of fading recollections of spring


our need
to name

makes things
more nor
less what
they are.

What then
does this
say of
what we
make of
by name ?

Does poet
dream poem

or poem
dream poet—

and if so,

what’s lost
or gained 
in the
writing ?

“I’m here,
so I write,”

the master says—

what else
to say ?


Before learning their second tongue,
babies, all of them, 

speak for the universe 
its many varied words for yes !


It is the nature of language
that it takes us, even when
it appears otherwise.


words telling stories
where nothing happens

fall like leaves making peace
with ground left behind


ok after a long sleep

late morning walking sunlight
frees winter cloister

to vows of no return

to slow draining spirits
too close akin to dark

one slice of light
is all we need


the grass and weeds 
between the stones

in the stairs in the garden
speak to probing fingers

of the many virtues
of winter rains


finally seeing I’d slipped back
to trying too hard, I give thanks
by letting go


mind holds course its indulgent way
while eyes pass silk-touch praise

to pink-grey skies, to horizons
free to feel


Like its individual face, 
the pathology of self-cherishing

when raised to the systemic
runs brute oppression
on one side 

and on the other spreads 
presumably pure reason 
that sells 

resulting carnage 
as someone else’s 

Deprive a fire of the air it breathes,
it chokes on its own smoke.


Light from street lamps
makes clouds of mist

where rain drops
might otherwise be.

What otherwise might we be

but for sun’s light ?

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