Tuesday, January 31, 2017

San Bruno Mountain




Putting myself in various spots 
  and observing the mind that happens there—
    I want to meet myself.

                         —Haya Akegarasu’s, Wind of Early Summer—



Two poems from San Bruno Mountain

*
Today in the saddle, a hawk, I think it was
a hawk, took me off-trail, aside the brush,
back and forth above the gorse, 

crossing so low, quiet opened 
across its back a patch so white
became my sole delight.

It took me today, that hawk,
took all of me with it, as surely 
as it took its name.
                                     1-11-17

*
For a man of my age, whatever that means,
if anything of consequence at all—for a man 
my age, slopes and distant ridges cease 
to be events of contest, become collaboration.

The mountain sets the pace, sets the sights, 
as well as lays the music for the song 
that comes there through us—our role, 
to wake enough to take it in enough 
to see the gift for what it is, and be glad 
that we did: that song.
                                                                       1-13



**


Hearing Buddha’s Names

I've done the philosophy, studied doctrine, 
chewed soothing words for rightness, onliness, 
only to find, for me at least, 

that every heart-felt vowel, cupped
and cut by any consonant, can well be held
as primal, as pregnant, with meaning 
and fulness resounding simply in saying. 


**


Days and dates come and go like snow 
that thinks of spring as “not yet,”
and is wrong.
                          12-24-16


**


By its very nature, question 
slows us down enough to open room
enough to listen rather than speak,
to learn rather than critique, 
and to share in the joy and release
of certainty displaced 
by surprise.
                                     1-1-17


**


Begin by peeling away layers accrued 
through no one’s fault, then probe the obvious 
for its footing.
                                               1-2


**


Standing as we do in clearing
morning skies, lingering shadows 
of night’s passing, the tree and me 

exchange glances 

in puddles still holding 
to the street—somewhere, some one
might well have a name for this.


**


Grace abides in the ordinary, in the daily 
release of daily anguish, perennially.

This unrest of this day, turns the breeze 
and the rush of the next breath of liberation.
                                                                      1-3


**


Rising in the dark in the rain in the streets,
the rustle and rush of shadowy presence,
sound without voice, the voice of sound
unrestrained by singularity—sky’s chant,
full to brim and over 
            with heaven’s nectar. 
                                                1-4


**


Unthinking, unblinking, water rushes 
any available channel—in humans,
this is thinking—think about it—think
too, if thinking were the whole of it 
for us, how sad we’d be—how fortunate
we are.
                    1-5


**


Some years ago, after several days 
along high country river banks, alone
with a favored field guide, I learned
of the willow well enough 

to know the family each time we meet
or pass close by—the turn and shape 
of leaves, the way it shapes the place
it’s in, its silhouette—

the kind of knowing
that stretches that word beyond itself
to what some call love.
                                     1-6


**


For this final leg then, opting to put this pen
to work for that peace that comes of connection,
I’ll choose that “enormous journey of everything 
around us.”

                               —after Andrew Schelling



**


Wind-blown clouds of rain pass by
our bedroom windows, dancing songs
of winter’s promise wrapped in cold.

Wondrous—the folded legs, enfolding
quilts, body-fired memories—these,
the comfort blessings of this having,
simply, home.
                               1-8


**


Inspiration comes as it comes, 
in whatever way…

the light in the ceiling in the room behind me 
shines back at me through the lowered curtains
of the window in front of me, beyond which 
stars are veiled by rain’s clouds, which in turn 
are veiled by morning darkness, out of which 
a dog which cannot be seen, barks 
but once, 

while all the while the rains, 
and the stars I suppose, remain and continue 
unrestrained reports of the perennial.
                                                                   1-9



**


The poem
is that part
of the report
that eludes
linguistic capture,

yet still appears 
to reside there, 
more than having 
just passed through.

                                            1-23

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What more to ask for....




The heart trusts its beating
to do so, until done.

And there’s little, really,
we can do,

but trust too….it’s 
a heart thing. 
                             12-13-16


**


In the midst of this, to the east
and to the south across the bay, light 
forwards curtained mists
of rounded colors  

while distant freeway autos, strung 
below the hills, hum its edge 
like rippled currents 

of evening fire-flies.
                                 12-14


**


The old man in the story 
ignores the television 
in order to retain his dignity.

“The real news,” he says, 
“is the snow outside.” 

Real history is known locally
or not known at all.
                                 12-15


**


From Robert Lax:

“Don’t try to say something convincing, try
to say something true.”

*

“Penetrate, do not appraise.”


**


Stepping onto the deck into evening 
air—in every direction, single stars 
in their singular intention. 

Constellations are what others see.
Stars just be stars, as bright
as they can be.
                              12-17


**


The writer tells me
I am existence
conscious of itself,

therefore, every poem
is a self-portrait,
filtered, in this case,

through early morning mist.


**


Winter’s night sky beckons stars
even before itself arriving, 

and even then, as if suddenly there,
in all its resplendent blackness.
                                                   12-19


**


Names and shadows and dreams 
proliferate like the clover native peoples
here ate—names ring in sustained light,
shadows check the uncertain and dreams 
redeem and affirm, mistakes we’ve made, 
the victories we’ve shared.
                                                         12-20


**


If you’ve notice the moon, it heals itself,
broken to full, breaking then coming whole,

self-fulfilling promises of open-ended movement 
and the light emergent there.

This morning it sits high in wintered sky, 
at well less than half,

a bright star below its lowest tip, and below that 
and less bright, another: a stream, I thought at first, 

no, a trickle, but then 
again, no:

tear drops.
                                  12-22


**


I don’t know for certain if the clock
read quarter till four or five
when first spied from beneath
the blankets, but it’s till six now,
with coffee, with the throbbing foot
now raised with ice, with pen in hand
and you back to sleep—quarter till six
and an entire world at peace.
                                                             12-23


**


the peace-pen project:

bio-diverse ecosystems are numberless,
i vow to learn them all…
                                          12-25


**


Although encroaching glaucoma
gives cause for concern in oncoming
headlights, starlight remains
a safe haven, 

not to mention
the inner light, where neither is there
trouble there—adaptation is but one face 
of change, the unfinished, 

the tissue of existence
and trust a natural function.


**


On this morning’s walk, 
a thin-slivered moon cuts 
a horizon lost 

to the slow approach
of clumped and shadowed
trees—if not this, who am I ?

                                               12-27

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Where endings are beginnings...

        

This Buddha sits with you 
in the broken light  

of pain-strewn streets
and slow-folded knees

that signal
unquestioned  presence—

throughout the darkness,
the voice of a friend.


**


A poetic form from the American poet, Allen Ginsberg:

The American Sentence: a whole thought in seventeen syllables

(a modern adaptation of the Japanese haiku, for English)

(punctuation, as you like; a single line preferred, not required):


* Below the horizon’s morning sky, sun glistens in hillside windows.


* Stretch-bellied grandchildren watch u-tube—Nona asleep in the next room.


* Perspective: my new allergies, in light of a friend turned terminal.


* Who can deny that the sound of the pen-scratched page is saying something.

  • Songs of the Sunday paper: shoes without socks, chill against showered skin.


* Pink mist pools just above the bay’s waters in answer to morning’s call.


**


We ran, ran through grasses in the hills,
just for the thrill of it, 

shoelaces stuck with seeds and spurs,
all raggedy, all winded, just like a kid—

you know, like the kids we once were,  
heading head-long to nowhere in particular, 

just to go there.


**


presence—

the quiet rush
of out-poured breath
carried in a name…


**


The briefest pause 
allows direction 
space enough 
to change 

everything—

insight’s like this,
nano-seconds, 
passed by
or followed, 

either way, new.


**


Self or other, it’s witness that heals,
voice that soothes, our wounds
that can bind.


**


Life-death, the poem’s heart,
Buddha’s name, resonant
syllables sounding.


**


That old man, there in the mirror in the aisle
in the store—it’s me.


**


The moon that is my life,

pours itself into the west,
but “to what end…”

that old witness, Chomei,
once asked.

Rains continue, drought retreats,
bamboo quivers and drips.

And what more for one more 
inarticulate tongue

than to offer “a few prayers,”

into the trace and feel,
the unobtrusive 

touch of this 
ever-abiding silence.


**


Now a’days, December 10th 
is international human right’s day—

for the ancients, the venerables 
among them vowed to save them all—

each day, ever, the numberless sentient beings 
they encountered there—

including the humans among them, 
earthlings all, and earth and its all, 

each day and every day ever—
all this, all this day too.


**


My Dad’s breakfast, every day I ever saw,
was two eggs easy, bacon, toast and coffee—
as a kid, he’d have had biscuit, not toast,
jam not jelly; and he always ate to full.

The belly is the first to go, he’d say, 
having been lean as they come when young,
the belly arriving mid-thirties, encouraged too
by regular evening beer.

I can say with confidence, he could do anything 
with his hands—he worked hard.

And I wonder here, if he had lived as long 
as I have,

would he have come to be less certain 
of things—or 

was it just that it seemed that way
as a kid, 

as his kid…  


**


Thoughts for the turn of the year…

Resistance does not require of us to change,
but rather to intensify. For how we live 
and what we live for

threatens most

those who would have us do otherwise.

Double down, do so with joy

and, mostly, be true.