Thursday, May 19, 2016

Honshu--April to May

Because light,

of the world
gather it
 for us
 to see.



The writing, for me, says more
than the written.

Words bang around
as best they can, push

and probe; 
but what they know 

is nearly 
never said

and what they say
is mostly missed.

The writing itself
is clearer than this.



on day three in Tokyo, a long walk without getting lost
goes a long way to settle the senses. Trains sound
less foreign now, people wait for signals, for breakfasts
of fish from venders and generally appear to ignore
the grey-beard gaijin passing by—we’ve arrived.


Iris in the royal gardens
is said to signal early summer,
but late spring rains slake the thirst
of violet-rimmed tongues,
choked with gold.


Mists and clouds suddenly rush aside

to reveal Fuji, 

buck naked, under a hat 

of the whitest snow.


At Hokone Inn
at sunrise, the public bath 
washed away the night.



Multiple temples nestle in the wooded foothills
on the eastern edge of town—stone Buddhas watch,
large bells, quiet and ready, waiting the streets,
the freshly leafed trees, almost as if, in first light
only the river moves. 



Second only to Fuji is the Hakusan range,
pure, sacred, covered with snow and run through 
with the river Sho—Shokawa, river of a hundred miles,
plumbs, penetrates and tunnels deep, blessed 
with prayer and spring-borne petals.


The Kyoto National Museum

celebrates Zen forms. Old friends
show up of course, though we don’t talk 
so much as smile, nod and bow—reminds me
how neglectful I’ve been; but no one mentions

this, nor the sense of warmth coursing 
the crowd, that one form, for me, 

that continues to stick, impossible, so it seems, 
to shake: Buddha’s call, there even if 

no one shows.


Sometimes wind sings
through others’ voices. Birds
take it where they can, give it back
with gusto. Others think of it
as their own, have to be taught.

In time, we all learn—the blessed
do so a bit sooner.


Tokyo lets us go today,
the gentle release

of acquaintance 
turned friend.


Found the well last night,
an open-centered spring, deep
in swimming dreams,

a silent illuminating presence,
not still, nothing shown upon, just 


The heart falls back 
on itself; first trust there,
then follows the rest.


Recognition by name is nearly everything.
But witness, claiming only presence, 
comes closer. 


May 10th, at 10:30 evening time, the moon
high in the west, fully half-way to full,

freely blankets the world at large
in unbinding silvered light.


Resting on the slope of the shell mound in Buckeye Canyon 
in a bouquet of a singular flower reminiscent of lupine, 

bright white and violet, with dusted leaves, differently shaped.
Getting close, getting to the ground to press this vision

to memory, I remember Thoreau—curious intentions

flowering with poems of joy and delight.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The next iteration...

Giving the thread its length, let go
the tip, a shallow breath, and watch

the air, without question, carry it all. 


What better way to want to be
than more ready to be more 


Words might well be forgiven their shortcomings.

They don’t hold much or for long, but most do
suggest another word to follow, or to take their place.

And for free.


whether wanted
or not, what’s next 
is always given


doesn’t make
any sense.”

Sandino, almost 4


Student:  what is this,

that I apologize to spiders
when walking through their webs ?

Teacher:  manners.


Four days after we start saving light,
waking in the dark, under thick layers of fog,
feeling strikingly unburdened,

clear and settled, like when things falling
into place make you aware, for the first, 
they’ve not been in place at all,

as if a question is answered 
before you’d thought to ask,

and so you just get on with it,
just get up 
and live.



the planet in the south that glows
its special glow just after dusk
just above the horizon, holds tight 
to an off-kilter clutch of moons 

invisible to the naked eye, yet 

mirror-dancing with their host 
and the telescope, 

here on the roof.


Poetry happens because 
the innate capacity of words
coming together 

can somehow take us where 
words can’t go—or, from the beginning, 
perhaps, that which moves words 

continues well after words 
reach their limits.

Either can bring us to poem, 
and the next one may lead us
to peace.


And if the point of it all is to feel,
feel our way back to feeling, then 
none of the vast range of feelings
ought be rejected out of hand, ever.

Then yes, everything ever is yes.



Catch a glimmer, even the slightest, 
then good, that’s it, to go with 

or to leave. Too much more said, 
is an altogether different direction.


He’s an older man now, as am I.
The clearest memory I have of him 
is with Kerouac’s “On the Road”

in his back pocket at a party—our kids played
in the co-op nursery. Never more than acquaintance,

we meet at a memorial. Two grey beards, smiling 
over coffee in paper cups, friendly
in memories strikingly warm.

Neither of us work for money anymore, nor
commit too full a calendar—footloose, is the way
he puts it.

And I wonder, this shared sensibility as we age, 
a warm anticipation, that here on out is open-ended, 
currents extending in light, trusting everything.


Time with a teacher
is not always
except maybe
over time.


Stars call me to the back deck tonight,
calling out their names.

In an hour or so, glass and chart
set aside, 

I light incense and call Buddha’s name,
or is it mine?


Saijo says somewhere that it’s the writing
in its totality that sustains—I tend to agree
what reaches the page is good enough
of itself, even if tinkered with, is 
the writing too, as so with the breathing
they speak of, that breathing I think is
here tended to, too, as is the singing,
chanting and speaking, those warm, 
welcome extensions.


Before clearing the horizon, morning’s sun
splashes salmon through low stretching clouds 

streaked pink—deep bedrock promise, 
a grey to bluing sky.


Darkness doesn’t speak
its night-long hold.

The sun, simply touching.

These words, a same
but different weight.


The heat goes on
just as the grandchildren begin to stir,
the dim light heavy with chill. 

The youngest whines, then calms 
under his sister’s comforting tones,

while his elder brother sleeps,
deep in undisturbed indifference.

With all this warmth readily available,
why we continue to turn to the men

remains utterly inexplicable.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

final pages

The truth of the matter
of this living and dying we do
together while alone
is not one of thought, which is
itself but one of the myriad puffs
of passing living  
that delight and confound,
as all expressions 
of this marvelous mystery do,
but rather, just that,
the mystery 
that is.


Words work best 

in bunches let go before breath runs out…


There’s only one song.
Words change with the winds,
the moon goes full to gone. 
But there’s only one song.


To the very end, well past the time the lighter
lit its last, my mother kept it and her smokes
within arm’s reach.

What the empty pages of my journal don’t say
is that I carried it and a pen, from bed to couch, to 
bed again, mid-morning to middle of the night,

right there, at the ready, every one of the four days 
the flu took most everything else of me 


I’m not so sure at this point what I’m looking for 
when pulling an old teacher off the shelf, to read
what I’d written in margins long ago, or to find now
something missed then.

Some say past impressions have already done 
whatever their work; however helpful a dialect 
learned along the way might have been, 
what remains are only echoes.

Disoriented once on the trails in Zion, the map 
became clear to me only when I’d calmed enough 
to remember what really helps—hills and valleys 
forever speak only in present tense.


The afternoon sun catches in the bowl
on the low table in the living room, throws light
from the shallow cup to the ceiling,

luminous shards of molded glass, a fractured rainbow
of spotted colors moving in angles at odds with the sun’s 
arc through the open picture window.

At the bowl’s center, a pair of wooden hands, ebony,
found in a Bangkok market along side the elevated tracks
of inner-city train lines.

Pinkies touching, palms open, 
thumbs slightly spread, 


Keeping its focus,
keeping its beat.
The heart.


Morning’s walk

into the mist amidst
swirls of change.

This endless count giving 
this only quiet,

this culling voice living
and dying

its own singular joy, this 
breathing this, 

this walking home.


prayer has voice

even in silence

it listens too


Stand centered
in the stream’s flow and drift,

let its taste
determine direction,

let its rush
tell of your wish,

let its flow speak 
the how of how we all go

and its name
tell of all names.


Usefulness is one
of the many petals of
human flowering, identified
only when reflected upon,

such reflection also being just one
of many formless, colorless petals 
unfurling there in natural 

Flowers do not help, nor cooperate, 
nor interfere, but just reach 
into life’s light with all they have, 
all they are,

this one 
turning back 
to its own 

March 15, 2016