Tuesday, July 10, 2018

First page poems

First page poems
                        June 2018

There’s nothing quite like first page writing,
the cushioned fullness of the journal’s endless 
possibilities pulling pen-point present 
into free-range future, without lifting 
from the page—both here and there,
then and now, this and that and whatever else
that sense and no-sense wholeness brings
into the field of living-into-dying reality we are.

The pen’s place, like the breath’s,
drawn by its own moves: 


This moment, yes, is all,
though its move into the next
is all the rest.


The last of the cherries from the tree
next to the fence next to the stairs
to the yard, were deep red sweet,
these pits, here in the bowl
in the sink in the kitchen,
a thank you note
to next spring.


Words find their way first, we following 
directions they take, our revisions 

the exploration of where we find ourselves 

Intimate with their own roots, words
tell us what we think, guide us

to what’s next, better 
than we can guess.  


I’ve let go the news pretty much
except for what I get from voices
living in the air in front of me—that space 

the best to engage for me with what’s mine 
to give. Light reaches around the globe, 
but touches each thing where it stands.


Darkness falls without sound.
Complete in its self-telling, we understand 
without having to hear.


gold-dust morning sunlight
breaks over the bay 

fire-burst dazzle and day stars
blind, delight 

turn the face 
and steal its words


We swim
we trust

a bike

arms a-

make it so.


I’m at that age now where friends 
and acquaintances are dying. In the wake
and tracks left behind, each in their way
say what those old poets have said
all along—life without death 
isn’t being lived.


The sun wakes slow, coaxing, 
before its blazing, coaxing all things out. 
Even the deepest crevices turn their darkest sides 

into its coming—I’ve seen this 

even in the bleakest deserts—before the blaze, 
everything shows up.


Bahia de Banderas

Outside the closed curtains, 
beyond the coastal edge, 

the precipitous drop and depths
of bay waters answers the Pacific.

The perennial conversation
of the place of continents 

in a world of waters—how long
they’re expected to last.


Puerto Vallarta

At the Marina, the calls of the boat men.

I’ve wondered if the slower pace is more 
a function of a longer culture. Have you,
have you noticed the music air-born 
at the end of the strings of the Spanish 
spoken here—the pause, the lift 

the time continued beyond 
what outside ears 
can hear ?


I know the shadows back home
where you’ll find smooth-skin madrone.
And knowing now their red fruit to be
edible, clearly remember the leaf-strewn trail
that goes there.


His face is square, mustache chopped
like his hair. Blue shirt, strong body, 
he doesn’t look up as we pass, 

bare sidewalk silent as the winds 
between us.

I believe though, we don’t pass through, 
no matter how it seems, we don’t pass
without notice taken—prayers,

like this one, are given 
just for this.


What is it about aging
that only someone aging can appreciate?

Well, aging. Like when they took my face
and replaced it with that older guy. 

The eyes seem the same, but for years
I’ve looked through them, not at them.

It’s happened to my friends, but I’ve not asked,
for fear of seeming rude—though their eyes,

from what I can see, are indeed the same.
There’s something about smiles too

that clearly elude the grasp of this mystery 
among us, that makes whatever it is seem ok.


Tell me the distance is imagined, not real,
and I’ll believe, at least for a bit. For the least
is enough, for the while.


This early light touches without claim,
reveals what isn’t revealed without it,
asks nothing other than revelation.


In jungled foothills

streams always have something to say, 
but it’s the leaves who speak first
with sunlight.


for Paul—Puerto Vallarta

Returning from Old Town, 
they droop over the roadway
like moon flowers
planted in the median,
twin-bulbed blossoms
lighting traffic either direction-
flow through warm night air,

elbows jutting windows
turned down to face-catch
the breeze, cab driver
unaware of the treat 
he’s giving.


Mexico City—Coyoacan

In the garden across from the market,
bird song in the leaves, sparrows
flutter for grilled kernels scattered
among filled benches, emptying,
filling again—laughter, young voices,
traffic sounds, colorful aromas…

learning to fish without a hook,
tasting it all, the momentum
of the music, everything.


It rains late afternoons, floods the streets.
In Coyoacan yesterday, pounding hail
filled the gutters. Today, through the downpour
outside the window, an Azteca conch sounds, 
thunderclaps shake 

the Zocalo.



Being ill at home is hands-down better
than being so away. I would die here well
too (he thinks)—looking out

houses scattered among trees scattered 
across the hillsides, under the clean arc 
horizon under blue skies

always anxious pacific fogs
and clear breaks of nighttime stars, 
the first always right over there

looking back, as it does, past
my pointing finger, right into 
my eyes.


It’s obvious,
at this writing,
that life hasn’t “left.”

How then
can its “return,”
its resurfacing,

feel so vividly real ?


after Jerome Rothenberg

to say in every possible way 
what cannot possibly be said

just as sun speaks clouds away

each word enters the world

opening in me

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.

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 

gentle as dawn searching itself 

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.