Wednesday, November 7, 2018




Desolation Wilderness, south, in September,
following the fall of the foot to the trail

each time deeper 
into the sky.


Was it the broken flow of dream-light,

the rustle of splintered words

or morning’s pools of gentle press

that suggests a different shore ?


Rising late in the east, moon
lights the tops of the trees,
then downward the trunk
lengths, to finally 
the ground.

Nothing missed.


Skirting the northern edge of Lower Echo Lake,
moving west above Upper Echo and to the shores
of Tamarack, setting camp to its east among trees,
clear blue sky turning dark and chilled—first stars,
east and south aside the fulling moon, resonant

—the pulse of surrounding stones.


A not altogether unreasonable goal
might well be to reach more for what 
discomfort may have to offer.


Down from Suzie Lake 
into the east, canyon walls 
glow copper, aspen leaves 
quiver gold.


Climbed Mt. Talac today, up from Gilmore Lake, 
ascending 1,400 ft to 9,700, at 74 years, 11 months 
and 3 weeks of age; but who’s counting?


Lake Aloha holds place below north facing slopes of the Crystal Range. 
The jagged peaks that reach almost 10,000 feet are those just missed 
by churning glacial scrape that sheared clean to the bottom, 

to flattened fissured networks of semi-submerged stone islands 
amidst clear blue, snow and spring-fed waters stretching  
most of two miles today: the pushed front-end of centuries 

that readily escapes all efforts of the paltry scratch of a pen.


Headlamp off, journal closed,
tent illumined in moon glow.


The primary devotion
in the high country is to breath.
This unquestioned touch-stone 
of well-being is never taken for granted
here—songs are sung to it.


Lake Lucille nestles in a small bowl
of scraped boulders, perched at the edge 
of a deep gorge that widens into valleyed landscapes 
and surrounding peaks. Abundant spruce, lodgepole pine 
and ponderosa, coloring scrub and golden aspen, soften 
this rock bound plateau to murmurs of retreat. 

Moving from point to point, one outcrop or dome to another, 
we can trace most of the last four days’ trek. Here we rest 
and reflect, here day lets silence have its way, lets the rocks 
take us in and birds slowly begin to show.


High-mountain communion:

sips of shared brandy 
on a boulder overlooking 
lake filled valleys.

Liturgies of the senses.


To wake 
a rest-
less night
to see 


is to know 
all is 
all right.


Portola Redwoods State Park

The seventy-fifth year begins 
with a full bladder, a zipped sleeping bag 
and chilled, shadowy air held in place in part
by towering pillars of unquestioning presence,
ancient celebrants of here, now.

The bag’s zipper speaks to open, then the tent’s,
softened earth receives the pee, upturned eyes 
catch the play of the branch-crossed moon
and the head bows.


The deeper tangles of younger fears,
the longing for answers, for lasting form,
let go, open the free-step breath-work
of crossing the unmarked snow
of old age.


The “tradition-of-being-alive”
trumps by virtue of its commonness.
Our part, to bring to bear the currencies 
of talk, coming to see better
where we are and how.


Through the window, the moon,
fulsome above the ridge line,

juxtaposed with two ceiling lights
reflected on the inside glass,

all three appearing round, all 
borrowed light given back.


—Our times

Especially in small town america,
passing by others so close sleeves touch 

suggests at least the lifting of eyes,

wouldn’t you think?

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.