Monday, October 19, 2015

September Into October


And so, with nothing left 
to be done, one might then
make marks here and there 
across the open spread page,
leave songs or other signs 
for those who follow. 



Weeks unfold days’ unending unfolding.
Horizonless dreams cradle seamless returns
to the waiting light.


Buddha’s gift: the presence of unquestioning silence.



Secrets and lies turn in sun light 
to so much brushed off dust.



It would be a lonely world 
without the written word,

he writes, then looks up 
to see 

what the purple blossoms
say about that.


those who love you make you special



Some things

ought not be let
to go on—an empty bowl,
the executioner’s noose,

to name two.



a life
a world

in the
palm of




Waiting for the Mexican Bamboo
to unfold, watching ripening stalks
wave their wish 

in air 
empty of all 
but waiting.


Asked which group he’s with, he says, 
“the world—a table for one will do.”



Readings on Basho

I’m not so certain 
what simplicity means,
but would say to you to find 
what’s essential for you. Then,
stay the course.



Of this week’s griefs—name
a place, recite a name, 
as I do mine…

“Let love and gentleness 
shine in the wake….”



Up before the sun,
street lamps, moon and Orion 
all look down.


I remember a morning
that seemed a lot like this one,
without the memories though.


We camp on Mt. Diablo

under sun 
that weights the tops of tarps 
strung between the trees 
where gnats gather 
to tell stories.



The sun drops quickly this evening,
lifting silver through rippled waves of clouds
of charcoal hues 

that mantle the ridge in shadows
that call the air to chill, till night 
arrives for real.

Robert Lax wrote mainly
for himself, to understand better
himself in the world.

Flat. Ordinary. Commonplace. 
The exchange of energies most common, 
most overlooked. And yet  

no less than the foundation
of communal networks 
of sustenance 

that prompt every expression 
ever—the roots of praise,
home-place to worship.




Well, the painters start today, early,
on the old family place in the city. Last time 

for us, we tell the kids, no more 
paint jobs on our watch.


Ten minutes on a Thursday

The older man walks slow, soft
rounded belly. The younger one drops 
a skateboard to the street, before his feet. 
People bustle, traffic ripples. Sun warms 
the interior of the car, and MacDonald’s 
flies three flags. Parking meters 
kick in at 9.


As I deeply reflect,

it was Sensei, it was,
who opened a door so wide 
I’ve been inside ever since, 

even when lost. 
So it’s always been OK,
every return quite natural.



Looking up without
my glasses, the moon turned out
in double crescents.


Monday, September 21, 2015

August into September--ordinary intimacies

August into September, poems
of ordinary intimacies…

pink blossoms 

bounce along the fence, 
ripple, finally find repose, 

simply still


August 6th

Night was long wakefulness,
somehow restful, fog fingers now in the ridge 
to the west, morning sky blueing, cloudless.

The Buddha taught, I think,
the world’s suffering, our own, 
cannot for most finally be resolved, 

but can be faced with equanimity,
for the joy, love and fellowship 
found there also—this, 

we can do.


August 10th

In my absence, my wife pruned the blossoms
where the hummingbirds come to hum. I’ve seen them
return to wonder, as so often we do, at the change,
at loss, seen them in those hovering moments 
before recovery, before reconnection to the reliable 
stream of living inquiry, reconnection to question, 
to what is this, where will it lead, to 
whatever comes next.


August 11th

Mist and fog lay heavy
on the streets here, 
certain signs of summer
finally arrived in full,

the obscured view 
affirmed as real, as true, as
no, we do not see clearly.

Filtered light tells us so.


8/13—Sam Hamil, on Galen Garwood:

         “ He has remained patient, an artist more interested
          in process than wealth, a seer alone…, alone 
        and taking notes.”

And so we return, we see, we watch, 
respond and again return—not so much discipline 

as extended natural curiosity, 
unending tentative touching, taking notes.


Before the sun, horizon. 
Then, pink clouds.


August 19

Garrulousness, yes, perhaps, at times. But I’m told 
real poems shed words like leaves too heavy
to stay till the breeze lets go. 


Unable to touch
a safe place, fatigue
has its way.


From uncertain shifts amidst burnished shadows,
light collects, 




August 20

How many the telling signs

before hearing 
tolling bells

calling our name 



We’re tired, real tired, so
except to reach for the news paper,
the gate will stay closed,
the phone shouldn’t bother,
nor emails either.

Old age has it own ways.
While often ignored, there are times,
without excuse, it simply will not
be refused—good friends 
can do like that.


That old monk hobo
holds out his bowl

without apology—how well
do you hold yours?



Outside, through
the open
window, dogs,

small dogs bark
in morning 
air, without

any thought
of how far
that endless

stretch of air
will carry
voice along.

What of us,
our voices,
do we know?


Looking over
at the altar
where the flower
sits in its vase,

remembering incense
not yet lit, intentions
not realized
but for this remembrance,

wondering if that’s enough.


When I finally realized
how much I’d relied
on my friend as a teacher,

it became clear 
I’d known all the while
it never occurred to her.



The way
I understand

is punctuated

by the fact that

not one of us is ever
lost forever.


Just as we find our way again,
we look first to our feet

before lifting our eyes 
to horizons now somehow new.


September 2

Time passing does not mean something missing.
I mean, when an old friend calls, just answer.



A moment, a day even,
turns more to its own
given clarity

when someone passing 
nods at even the smallest flutter
of meanings we hold close.

Therein, the gateways
to how much
we share.


The winds that’ve been
have left with the night, leaves,
small branches and litter

gathered in shaded corners, 
huddled conversations of time 
gone by so fast.


September 6

Lay facts on me if you must. I promise to consider,
but know I will bend to hold 
only a few,

but for the image, the impressed influence
carried there in themselves, integral to each,
to its own meaning.

Along side the moments at hand, the given.

That we are at all, and as we are, always 

drenched undeniably in light.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

July 2015

July 5th, Sunday

Each day carries the one before
into the next, leading expression

never entirely its own, but its own enough 
to claim, beginning to end, 

both date and name.


July 6 is a Monday here,
breaking light and fog and dew

that lay a sheen on streets
that whispers passing tires wet,

careful too, to not say more 
than what’s known.

And what if we could live
like this, caring enough

that patient readiness 
becomes the mark of wisdom

and the insistent voice,
the cut of doubt.

And what if we could live as if
democracy’s mark

were an attentive ear?


International Peoples’ Tribunal 2015
Heart is to breath as breath is to voice as voice is to story.

Nations purport to be of laws, but people are always of story. 
Spoken and sung and listened to,

we overlap, we make peace, open avenues of justice
and heal

telling our stories as heard, we learn beyond
where pencils break, where boundaries fade.

Singing our stories we lend of ourselves our hearts
to song as heard by hearts 

already there; telling our stories 
we hear our healing together;

speaking our stories we dream of the dreams
that only our hearts can hold.

Heart is to breath, as breath to voice, voice to story

and story to remembrance of our original intention.


For Janet

They’ve begun
to slip in now,

passing through 
suddenly emptied skies,

of those gone
with the years
we all follow.

God’s speed
old friend’s
little sister.


I pray,

I think, 

though some 
say one 
ought not 
have to, 

it’s not 
like that 
for me. 

For some-
times one 
might feel 

thanks in 

for things 
from no 
one in 

I do.


As humans, others’ loss and suffering can become our own,
if we let it. If so, is this burden or opportune; if so,
what does this say of the state of the world
and the hearts that range
in and about it?


religion, politics, poetics

I put my trust in LIFE—all caps—
and return my living to this LIFE 
without limits

which unfailingly enfolds all things,
all beings, as worthy
in themselves.

I remember and return to this
because of all I don’t know,
can’t ever know.

But for this: aggression, yours
or mine, cannot be trusted;

suffering ought never
be ignored;

and solidarity means the movement
of the voice of tenderness

toward and among us.


After William Everson

is knowing when
to stop, 

how to leave the words 
at the gate of the silence
where poems reside.


Cid Corman said,

“If this is divinity,
best make the most of it.”

John Muir Wilderness

Stepping out into night air 
to pee,

the Milky Way 
arcs across the sky so high

only dew-light falls 
far enough 

to touch. 

And finally we see them, this morning,
three young bucks, who’ve spent their nights
in circular sweeps of needles 
under nearby pines 

that seem to have protected us all.

Long deep nights, sleepy mornings 
of musing and the slow promise 
of coming sunlight—together.

Sitting on the western shore of Steelhead Lake,
watching the curved cirque of rock that tops
at 10,600’—there this morning, small fish

break the surface with muffled plops, muted peaks
burst with the first catch of sunlight 

and a hushed silence 
tempts the waiting voice.

Winds come up around 5:00, well before dinner, 
temperatures drop in chill enough 
for jackets and caps

and the moon moves over the ridge, behind the trees, 
to hide till stars come out—so slow, the turn here, 
so slow.

You have to be here to hear it. 
But you can actually hear 

who you are.