Friday, November 20, 2009

Poems, July 2009

Blessed detail,

breaths of light, every glance,

every color called,

each rock and all the roadside dust,

clouds of knowing me.



Stafford speaks of readiness, a receptive angle,

an attitude acquired—savvy, I say, savvy

that it carries already, itself and all that’s you, self-contained

in an open sky of ever-unfolding specificity

and Oppen, pointing to the hand

in that song of the self, the hand on the shirt,

that, the point, the touch

the rise and fall

under a rumpled robe, the draw of air

nothing to be done beyond what’s done

of itself, the scratch of pen on padded page

the song of myself singing the song

on the singular run of the single moment in a single life

of vast multiplicity

mingled with words.


“Old man!” I stand accused

and, so stricken, can do no more

than demur, spotted as such

in broad day light,

taken down by a word taken in,

by a self-revealing reminder

by someone who knows

and loves—the best of omens.


Breathing, high clouds, fog.

The whoosh and buzz

of hummingbirds’ wings.


Under pulled-in brows—

useless tension of too much

thought simply wrinkles


Without question,

the altar rose opens—effortless

offering of fullness received


The patient way

of the settled heart belies

all the fuss and bother

as surely as the first touch of sun light

does the shadowed shuffle and flutter of wings.


So unsatisfactory, this difficulty--

no right ticket, right or wrong turn.

Listen. Simply listen.


The greatest mystery--

how consistency obtains

without a place to rest.


Mine is an interior life, and as such

at times feels a lonely one. I know, of course, I

am no other than all

that passes through—yes, I is We.

But here I sit, alone, looking out

the windowed gate swinging both ways,

letting in the world, always arriving,

everywhere home.


Years ago, someone topped

that pine now growing

flowing grass style.


Boulder Creek


the teaching as liberation from the teaching,

the unencumbered declaring availability

for empty-readied hands,

a time for the poet to speak,

to find himself in the world,

until no longer…


Wild ducks this morning,

wedge Northward, cutting their way

through low, seemingly indifferent skies,

the clattered barks of random conversation

meeting within the greater silence

arching overhead.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Children of Buddha

Children of Buddha

As children of Buddha, we carry Buddha’s seed, our lives share the same source, move and mature through time to the same shared end. As children of Buddha, we grow, each at our own rate, each in our very own way, to become fully matured Bhddhas—our Buddhahood evolves naturally, blossoms fully when conditions have ripened.

In Buddhist communities, “Buddhas to be” are called Bodhisattvas. This designation also serves to characterize the way eventual Buddhahood is nurtured and sustained, the “food” implied being perspective, attitudes and actions. Over time—again, each in his or her own time—“Buddhas to be” begin to understand the presence of the seed, not just within themselves, but within all others as well. And as they do, they begin to see a universal mutuality of beneficial actions.

We are all of the same seed, our lives woven of the same, many-colored fabric. Buddhahood is not a solo act, but a joint venture in which all beings are participating. The real work and growth of the budding Buddha begins in earnest with this realization.

Much has been written and taught about the shape the Bodhisattva’s life might take; we learn of vows, perfections and precepts, and are fortunate to have deeply instructive resources available for study. I prefer a practical view that suggests the Bodhisattva way provides a tentative example of how ordinary human life, in this body, can manifest its fullest potential. However, since human life, life in general, unfolds moment-to-moment, all preconceived outlines of fulfillment become suspect, right from the start. We can never really be certain about how a Bodhisattva will act. What we do know, I think, is that it will be spontaneous and creative; it will be unpredictable, unknowable before hand and perhaps unrecognizable after the fact.

So we find ourselves, or I should say I find myself, even after many years, to be a bit confused about this Bodhisattva way and of course Buddhahood—what is it really all about? How does it relate to me, to my life? This confusion is to be expected, I suppose. After all, we are taught that it is beyond our capacity to grasp the enlightened mind. And for me this certainly seems to be true.

I mean I do have ideas about wise and compassionate actions. But as my wife will amply attest, I am far from spontaneous—plodding, over-worked logic is more my style. Paradoxically, these “plodding” inclinations of mine lead to the abstract and conceptual—not the places, we are also taught, we can expect to find true wisdom, real compassion. No, the spontaneity of Bodhisattvas is rooted in the blood and bones, the breath-by-breath reality of human existence, where it will actually be of some use.

I like to think of Bodhisattvas as on the ground, in real time---not virtual—and that I am in fact surrounded by them all the time, as they diligently work across the myriad, imagined boundaries I’ve created, patiently showing me, time and again, how to keep sight of the seed in others, how to stay aware of the seed they see so clearly in me. For my part, I mostly just bumble along, mostly don’t recognize them, except after the fact. For my part, I feel particularly lucky that despite my lackluster performance, oh and maybe even because of it, they keep working for me, on my behalf, making it look as if I’m actually working along with them. Yes, that’s what I feel, lucky to be one of the many children of Buddha, surrounded by so many others. Lucky indeed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Poems from June

Poems from June 2009

Looking back, good friends, I see that June was a rich month for me. Hope you’ll find something of value.

We pause to restore ourselves, to rest,

to drink deeply of the stream, anguish shed

like receding echoes, feint imprints slowly lifting

in the dampened air

above the sands along the edge.


Through the fourth floor window,

leaf filled branches swing in shadows

occasioned with flashes of blue.


Sometimes even the smallest drift of air intrudes,

an uninvited guest, lingering at all

--too long—virus spreading in a shuttered room,

locked from the inside.


On training for ordination

The personal turmoil challenged the feeling

I wasn’t there—only later

did I see I’d already gone.


If I lay this old vow down

one more time without use,

it’ll crust over in the sun like a dried up turd.


big winds come,

blowin’ light

up and down the canyons


So much empty talk, so many empty words, words

spewed now even from digital tongues.

How much less can we manage, how little

are we likely to become, buying intentional insincerity

for the sake of convenience?


William Stafford, ever teaching…

If we truly cherish each other, he said

—so deftly revealing the inner voice of ordinary words,

the inner voice, the spontaneous push to the search for the true,

behind those so ordinary words, as heard.

Points, in his off hand way, to the core common

to Pure Land life and the poet’s vocation,

to hear the call

to trace the contours of the truth in this life,

to listen

to discern the inner voice of ordinary words

and then to speak,

is to hear and speak nembutsu,

remembrance of the source, ever remembering the source



When asked what he did when his work

failed to meet his own standards,

Staffords’s response

was that he lowered them.

What, after all, did the music

that carries the words

have to do

with his will,

he, the listener, trying only

to trace the contours

of the true and real…


The first of this season taken on the open deck,

watching first light slowly peeling night away from tree tops

and the tiny, harried birds hidden there, shifting weights,

from shadow to light, revealing everything anew.


I know you were here.

Your feather, inside up on the ground.

What is it of me

that you will see, left behind ?


Morning’s come warm through open doorways,

and dogs bark, and crows, and crows,

the houses collecting between,

from these calls,

the memories the sky refuses to hold.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Shinran's Spirit

If we are to truly show our respect and gratitude to Shinran during this anniversary period, I believe we must do our best to understand Shinran’s spirit, and to share that understanding as best we can. What I mean is, we must try to understand Shinran’s deepest motivations and explore how he pursued their fulfillment. In this way, we will come closer to Shinran, we will come to see our own motivations more clearly and come to see how to better manifest these motivations in our own lives.

This is not something that can be done institutionally; it is not a “program.” True religious life is never top down; it is an individual matter that declares its importance in the inner world of personal motivation and intention. How long Shinran’s influence lasts in this country and how vital a role it may play in its broad religious fabric, will, as it always has, depend upon the seriousness and intentions of individual followers. To this end, I offer the following personal thoughts.

We don’t really know why Shinran entered the monastic life. For a host of reasons, it was not unusual for nine year olds to do so at the time. I suspect then that the decision was made for him, not by him. More important than why he entered is the fact that he stayed. He studied and practiced as a monk, not for just a few years, but for twenty. That his decision to leave was stressful and traumatic further suggests the depth of his personal dedication.

Upon leaving the monastery, he immediately undertook a one-hundred day vigil, engaging in meditation and contemplation, trying to clarify for himself the path he needed to take. And he decided to seek out the Pure Land teacher, Honen, well known, well respected, who himself had left monastic confines in order to offer the Buddhist teachings to anyone who wanted to follow.

It was within Honen’s teaching of nembutsu that Shinran experienced the religious awakening that radically altered the direction the rest of his life would take, as well as his understanding of his struggles as a monk. This part of Shinran’s story is very familiar to many us and is readily available, but there is something fundamentally important that is often overlooked: Shinran desperately wanted to live a Buddhist life.

Shinran left monastic life because he had been unable to realize his own religious goals and aspirations; for all his dedication, he was unable to reach awakening. He was unable to control his passions. And scholars tell us he was probably disillusioned with institutional practices and the attitudes of many of his fellow monks. All of that said, at the end of almost one hundred days of intense introspection, he did not abandon religious life, but instead he turned to Honen. That is to say, despite the shortcomings he saw in himself, despite the flaws he saw flaunted in the religious community, Shinran wanted more than anything to live a fulfilled Buddhist life. This was his primary motivation and therefore the only point where we can meet him.

Shinran went on, like most of us, to live a life of family concerns and challenges, joys, attachments and losses. He characterized himself as neither monk, nor lay. A more relevant interpretation for us today suggests that Shinran began to live a life that was both fully secular and fully Buddhist. But if we are to really learn from him, we must not race ahead, we must start at the beginning. We must first ask ourselves, individually, how important it is, to me, that I live a Buddhist life. Honestly looking into ourselves in this way, we come to meet Shinran as our personal teacher for the very first time, there in the quiet depths of our own introspection, in the examination of our deepest motivations.

And if we so choose, we can also follow his lead, the example he set with his living. For Shinran, the how of living a Buddhist life took place within the continuous processes of deep self reflection in light of the Dharma—deep listening, study, discussion—and the continual recitation of nembutsu.

The source and apex of this life for him, and that which he wished and urged for all beings, is in the religious awakening or insight he called shinjin; but this center swims in the sea of continuous nembutsu. Throughout his letters to followers, Shinran advises those who feel their shinjin is not settled, to say nembutsu and aspire for birth; for those who feel their shinjin is settled, he urges that they say nembutsu and pray for the spread of Dharma and peace throughout the world.

For Shinran, nembutsu practice was both the beginning point and the fulfilled end of religious life, the bookends, the context within which religious life—dharma study, self reflection--was conducted. To “aspire for birth” is to want to live a fulfilled Buddhist life; to want the Dharma and peace to spread through the world, is the expression of a Buddhist life fulfilled.

Our personal efforts to understand, to aspire, to realize awakening, are to my way of thinking never in question for Shinran; looking at his life, we can only conclude that he expended his utmost efforts throughout its entirely. And he urged those around him, and by extension he urges us, within the contexts of our lives and our times, to do the same.

And urge is a critical term here. It is not about requirements. Shinran urges us to consider teachings and activities that were important for him—we choose to take the offering, or not. Shinran knew full well that each of us must make his or her own way. But it was his way to kindly offer what he knew and loved.

An authentic Buddhist life is one of personal integrity and effort. What Shinran awakened to, what he finally understood, did not suggest to him that he should not expend his personal efforts, but that Buddha was the real force behind the fruition of those efforts. He came to understand that Buddha knows far better than we, the limitations of our capacities, as well as our inherent, and deeply hidden, religious receptivity. And he offers the practices that will, not may, but will bring us fulfilled realization and awakening, just as we are.

Trust in Buddha is the realization that Buddha gives us all we need; trust frees us from unnecessary anxieties and enables us to give ourselves completely, unreservedly, joyfully, to the Buddha’s way. As Haneda Sensei of the Maida Center once said, our nembutsu before shinjin is the same as our nembutsu after shinjin. What changes is our attitude, the motivations behind saying it. Before shinjin, we recite because we think we have to; after shinjin, we recite because we want to, because we cannot help ourselves.

As a final note, I add this. Shinran’s perspective that real practice is Buddha’ practice is not unique to Shinran; and Shinran never once claimed he was introducing anything new—the terminology of Other Power in contrast to self power is unique to Pure Land schools, but the underlying principles can be found, explicitly, in both Soto and Renzai teachings and I would think elsewhere within the broader Buddhist community. I do feel however, for the purposes of lay Buddhist life, these principles have been more maturely developed in Shin. Therefore, rather than being a point of sectarian distinction, a rallying point for why we are different from other Buddhist traditions, Shin’s deep traditional understanding of the dynamics of Buddhist practice and awakening might better serve as a site of common concern and mutual study. A rich resource and contribution indeed.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

September haiku

Friends and family, a small collection of recent haiku. I participated in a haiku retreat a while ago, at Jikoji Zen Center Retreat, in Los Gatos, along the ridge highway (#35) and forests that over look the bay and the ocean at various points. This is a wonderful place, accessible, but secluded, relaxed and friendly. Look it up on the net if you’re going by and stop in. You won’t regret it. Most, but not all, of the poems came out of that retreat.

Hope you enjoy…

Hillside grasses wave

to winds shushing the pines.

The sun wants quiet.

Crows call from nowhere.

The woman stands in silence,

hearing haiku.

Along the shady trail

sun splashes browned leaves

to gold.

Before the sun’s reach, moon

---blue shadows

through sheer white.

Manure on the trail

but no flies, in this shade

bay leaves scent my fingers.

Pulling out his map

the bicycle rider stands

still in the cross roads.

sitting at the wall

mind washed white with breathing, here

I leave home

Remembering dreams

of waking, fall’s advancing

fog lifts my eyes.

coming upon

Roshi’s memorial--the jays

are silent

On this morning’s darkened streets

puddles—stepping over

the moon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I am lucky enough to have two grand daughters who still take naps—their naps sandwich some shorter poems, all from July and August…


For Zarah

He once wrote:   right there,


mid-window, as I lie on my side,

right there above the roof line of the neighbor’s  home,

where the upper most arc of the fullest moon

shone to almost blue the dark night sky,

there, now in earlier light,

a lonely stretch of cotton-white fog

of tightly curled lines, now, the lowest marker

of the surest dust

of blue


and in the later lazy of that long summer day,

at the very same venue,

a nap, flat-on-the-back nap,

brown-eyed, long-lashed grand daughter along side,

straightest black hair and even straighter bangs

framing that clean and rested face


with its lips

turned up like a new flower—who


could even begin to think


white    or   blue ?


A handful of shorter poems:


Anticipating the sun,

overhead street lights click



dogs bark

at emerging horizons

Crows chide

through open windows:

Fair weather friend!


someone topped that pine

years ago it forked

more branches for birds


center street,

the cat ignores me

On this side of enlightenment

morning fog rolls in,

revealing that we cannot see.

tiny bits

of flying grass

on the trail,

grasshoppers know

where my foot will fall

No shelter

for me—the winds,

such an advantage

for grasshoppers


For Kawayan

          I hear you whispering there O stars of heaven,

            O suns….O grass of graves…O perpetual transfers

            and promotions….if you do not say anything how can I say



                                              --Walt Whitman

Putting the grand daughter down…


with just the weight of my hand

she stills her legs—slowly then her fingers

loosen to open curls—and then the breath,

which tells it all, falls

to deep rhythmed sleep


she’s on her right side, my hand on her left,

thumb crooked under the arm, fingers extending

most the width of her back


I close my eyes, and breathe

—but can’t tell

whose pulse it is


In Whistler, British Columbia, we speak with a young woman

native to these parts, who weaves designs from her grandfather’s blanket

(she points to its photo), itself woven for him with prayers and songs

and stories, by her great grandmother—“I come from this blanket,”

she tells us, “and weave only its designs.”


In our loose way, we use the term “sutra” to refer to Buddha’s teaching,

which over time came to be woven into words, on paper.

Pulled from the ancient Sanskrit, “sutra” is derived from the word for “thread.”




Victoria, British Columbia, May 2009

At the bus stop on the harbor 

watching flags wait

glance and plume in morning sunlight 

there gather so loosely

only to again fall

and fall again

to waiting



Saw somewhere written

that the universe is a restless place.

Ah yes, and magnificently sloppy.


 Whistler, BC,

Home to the 2010 Winter Olympics

 and millions

of whispering aspen leaves




Wade deeply early sunlight

in aspens’ layered leaves

--so still

the glistening glow




Straight lines and shingles lay where lighted sky used to play,

a place ill suited to the fullness that is real;

trapped, flat in shadows sharp with longing,

breathless and shallow, watching 

passing breezes eddy.

Openly wanting.



Coming again to quiet possibility,

the place, lighted, as before,

only angles differing from what they were.



Brief as it seems,

most days the work begins

in pause.




Crossing from Horse Shoe Bay to Nanamo on a full, Saturday ferry.

Bumping waters, a haze of whitened skies

and the flow of padded shoes; muted moves

carefully tended by turned heads and dropping eyes.

Time shared in place passing

us each, and alone, along our way.



A poem, for me,

I’ve come to see as a suggestion

come upon,

then visited with, for a bit.



We sleep at times a bit too long

and dregs remain, slowing it seems

even the pull in the veins

a dirge like call into darkness not letting go,

and we slip there with it


where all are allowed to speak

and thus, to make our peace

or not


and the praise that might make poems

is what I chose, careful

attention to all that comes



mingled with words




Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spring toward Summer Poems

Spring, looking toward Summer  2009


Light slips past,

from dull invitation,

to full-on embrace


and I find myself

surprised in morning

already forming shadows.




At times now, because I’ve been told,

a softer way opens to waves that row with sorrow,

with the terrible touch and wrench

of currents’ darkened tellings of vacant longings

of those absent to light—open to this, yet resonant still

to distant, but distinct, trailings of song.


Songs of April and May


So many whirling leaves,

limbs churn, walls creak.

It’s like that here, in Spring.




Limp and unsettled,

insistent in its call--

the white altar rose.




Folded and wrapped in plastic,

today’s news sits on the driveway,

waiting to be asked in.




Who needs names?

Sun comes.

Flowers turn.




Wrapped deep in search of a word,

the pen’s scratch awakens me

to gifts already at hand.




First morning rays

gleam and glisten

on someone’s rear bumper.




Through the open window,

the tree, the trellis, and overhead

somewhere, a plane.




Pulled in,

pulled softly in,

gentle formality melting

all resistance.




I’ve occupied this table

at Starbuck’s on Shattuck before,

on cold mornings,

with hot coffee, in music too loud,  

to watch the young acacia at the curb, that bends,

advancing always its many feather-fingered leaves.




Under the thick mantel of new green leaves,

the browned and fallen pad to silence

the shaded banks,

threaded sunlight pulling selected splotches

again to luminous gold.




This young woman’s healing

breaks wide open

my mind—her clarity!




Ocean’s clouds and bluster

take no notice of the sun’s work,

moving into place, as if belonging.




Bodhisattvas Everywhere


Out there somewhere on early air,

woodpeckers clatter, distant concerns

sound of comfort,

of work being done.




Quiet Eyes


Blue sky, blue ink, the empty page full

with faulty lines of scratched thoughts, reaffirmed

in light. “Let the clay speak more,”

the old potter said. Stand quiet, the eyes.


                                        --Shoji Hamada




Common, ordinary words for common, ordinary thoughts

simply running their course, as they do, and what is one to do

but admit, admit the stream

for what it is: as much me as is any else.

To deny, a lie, lamentable, but only softly so,

lamentably bemused, perhaps, at the tenacity of personal pettiness,

the utter lack of movement toward the mature


Yet, of late


A settling, a softened settling, sweet and warm


A settled tone, a leveled gaze, the offering of patience in absence of reverie,

lifetimes on rivers of myriad springs, carried by constant tides of gladness…


And yet


There is no sweetness to the sadness of others

purposefully deprived of the possibility

of hearing a compassionate call.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Poems           


night rains secure

silence passes silence

spreading singular dripping breaths

to every waiting ear

the perennial pulse


Considering deeply of late of mystics and poets and other fools,

friends made whole of the turning toward,

all a part of the tradition sans tradition

of repeated participation;

indiscriminate love pouring forth perpetually, continuously finding

ourselves here, in its gleaming light

despite ourselves.



Issa tells it best,

the great matter and challenge

of Amida’s vow.



How many years have these poems sat on the shelf,

and where have I been?


Unfettered imagination, it’s about.

Grand dreams and greatness

just so much roughage

for the pure joy of release.



The most obvious

obviously overlooked,

he turns his head ever so slightly

and finds he’s been sitting amidst

everything he’d ever need.





Dreaming my own stubbornness wakes me,

won’t let me return, taking me to the hilly streets

darkly grumbling

the ancient chant of compassionate embrace

that carefully guides my steps,

despite my unwitting unwillingness

to simply open my eyes. 



They two


Grey and high clouds. Cold works

the eucalyptus trees swift with the sway of straying attentions,

agitates the un-welcome weight of whispers of hearts that long,

of un-negotiated chasms of unquenchable care and concern.

Severed leaves float free, chilled currents

a comforting respite, momentary and empty of place.



A seductive scene

of salutary beauty

hovers just beyond reach.

“Let go to repair,” it says.

I do. And it does.





The universal nature of Buddha

does its work with an irresistible pull

through the emptied field of uninterrupted faith,

quietude enough for all and every, source 

of the only trust worthy of the word, given not earned

in the heart and mind settling 

in the eternal now of the time and the place at hand.


When asked, we reply, Namuamidabutsu




Set-backs, fits and starts. Quitting

after returning. Starting over

again: Life




We speak, of course, of collecting our attention, thinking

everything an extension of our intent, forgetting

to question origination.

Eyes recognize light, ears know music

and the nose draws

on familiar air.





Squirrels, where have you been?

The acacia has been so lonely. 




Picking up the grandson after school

--what’s new--nothing…really!


Down hill, crows swoop.

Far distant bay, blue sky.



flying ahead of light into Vegas

desert thick with mists

dusted peaks




meeting myself

in the doorway

of this empty page




Red Rock Canyon Park, NV


resting at the rocky base of Turtle Head Peak


up from the desert floor




Blown free of their tents

in the newly budding bush,

blue-haired caterpillars

walk this treacherous trail with me.

Don’t worry, caterpillars. 



More April Poems


Early bird calls collect the quiet.

Hidden blossoms signal spring,

thinly lit air, the new day.



Entering my winter season,

shorter poems reclaim

their rightful place.



Rains fall

into Spring’s approaching tide.





Heart beats smile.

An aging frame kneels,

chanting at the alter.




sometimes needs her own space

this four year old

not so different from me




Preparing to teach

rekindles old anxieties

—too much me!




Amida? Sure.


         Just there, to the corner,

         sometimes along side.


                       Never just waiting.





First light, first work,

through the hills to the ridge

to witness Iris blossoms turn

to watch the pale yellow moon

fall in the western sky.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Soaked green, winter poems




Neither day, nor night.

the moon glows sunlight

into star-swelled skies.


Light. Only light. 





Mary Oliver


The effort

she could give, she said,

this giving of herself.

And so she did, a devotion

of patience and of will

and observation, of which

come the poems.




Writing the world


Rethinking, remembering

the marriage of intellect and experience

reordering, or is it ordering

the world in such a way as to see

anew, the silvered thread

that’s joy run through. 




Taking refuge


It’s not technique,

nor the other things

the learned might bring,

but the coming itself that most counts,

the coming back and the deepening listening

coming of that.




Rereading Carruth,


looking more closely than before,

looking for the how

that is his, seeing sentences,

full sentences not prose,

but poems.


Unmistakably so,

but how so?




True Nembutsu


Resolve eased away,

unclenched and opened

within certainty and song.






Unexpected gratitude


In real friendship,

studded with acute and sustained observation,

a few scattered words

will sweep doubt with such sudden ease

only laughter’s left, standing naked

and unbruised in truth’s spot light. 





Over time

I began to understand the universal

as not mine to apply

but something ringing resonant in others

for me to hear. 



From DT Suzuki


so clearly spoken a koan

from the Zen soaked tongue


to become

not the poet, but the poem


to become





Sitting in the quiet chill of morning, remembering waking

in the drift of horizonless and distant calling held close,

the gentle start and ease of recollection murmuring recognition

and the smiling spread of gladness.






San Diego, Hotel Row


It rains big here. Scowling tumblers unfold

splashing tropic drops against cement walkways

strung in sporadic sections off the portage road along side the hissing stream

of headlights. I celebrate

these stretches of safety from passing morning traffic,

looking to the clouds as the rains ease a bit.

Sweat trickles and a distant stoplight blinks

suggestions of the mid-point of my walk,

a time to return

to my temporary home,

cloud hidden blue at my back. 




Breezes play,

trees rush cold through clear skies,

the full, slow falling moon,

a certain signal of new things already come.




Awakening at dawn


hearing more deeply the voice

that speaks of its own calling being heard,

resonant of praise and response, of the shift and pull

of the softened tears of the opened and settled heart.




Counting one’s blessings suggests something missing…


And complete, a week smooth through mornings away

to jagged evenings soothed over time to rounded returns

to beginnings never really left behind.




San Luis Obispo


And how in time

through unfamiliar windows

framed inclinations where once was flow

find trees on line on hills

once open and free 




The mystery continues its quiet way,

wintered hills soaked green under a clearing sky

and the last receding drifts brightened white




Something Matthew said…


suggests I’ve been looking in all the wrong places,

thinking all the while I’ve been right

about the light, seeing now

I have not seen even a single thing

quite right


no ideas but in things, say the poets;

no light but for things, so shining


yes, light is un-seeable, except

in the myriad things, which as such

so reveal us to ourselves, so shown


mutually luminous within imagination unbound without horizons,

spontaneous release in unlimited, unending possibility 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Finding a Passing Year



From Hilda Morley’s “Sea Lily 

Words voiced. Flamed human resonance

emerging, ever-arranging-


both before and after, flowed over

of color and heat, each a cup

             of fullness


            from whatever passes


            itself away.




On reading Hilda Morley’s “Butter-and-Egg Weed”

I wonder this morning, early in the dark before light,

if William Stafford knew of the poems of Hilda Morley

and am certain he did, and reading quickly, as was his habit


Listened closely, so as not to fail to learn

a better way of living, given freely there

of abundance both knew


Coming to know one completely new thing

daily, a necessary thing, perhaps, or failing that,

some new thing one might simply delight in





This is not indifference


Rivers lap, as at unlatched doorways

in darkened morning passages

of tomorrow come,

hushed shuffle and brush,

most not heard heart-call,

irresistible current-flutter

of unmistakable intent toward

oceans of bruise-held kisses.



Talking with Billie


Having reached sixty-five,

nearly wrapping up the prologue,

the introduction looms, inviting,

slow sweeping beckoning, softly receding edge,

always opening…






Limitless, the arc and reach,

the farthest sky’s embrace within which we hear

Buddha’s call that we are heard


Our tears’ resounding response

echo heavens’ warm wishes of well being,

raining blessings of clear-light.





I have not known exile

nor the endless pain of prolonged separation of hearts,

but once in youth for a time seemed eternal

was swallowed whole in torment of broken being,

glaring, un-moored, fearsome aloneness,


was when you came, wrapped in the certainty of moonlight.



in praise of change


it is not ever

that change enters once again


our lives are change


the only constant

the only possibility

all possibilities


calling   pushing   cajoling

goading us   to learn anew

let go the old   liberate




within endless   boundless   potential


all creation






Unquestioned visitors


Who knows how or why.

Scholars ponder. Ryokan though,

he just wrote his thoughts.


So much flowing grass.

Waters or winds, just the same.

No tangles, no bind.


His arrival then,

here and now, is no surprise.

I nod, push the pen.