Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Speaking peace

New Year’s Wishes 2010-2011

Friends and family, your continuing love for the world is my inspiration.

Here’s to doing just a little bit more, together, a little bit better in the days ahead.

Speaking peace at year’s end

Mists of incense thin

in the silence of a single lamp.

Outside, barely discernable

from here, drips

recall the night rains, street gutters rush

to overflow and underground basins gurgle

with abundance—real-time sutras

spoken on the native tongue of peace,

broken by a single pane of glass.

Stitches of sounds, of disquieting voices,

somehow from somewhere

out there.


And yet, and yes, praise is due. And when offered

there is no end to possibilities

yet to be conceived…

…where despite

all we have done wrong

the golden light of October

falls through the turning leaves.

from Wendell Berry's "Sabbaths IX"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Musings 2010

Winter Solstice

All but alone

in the wintered sky,

all but alone, the fulsome moon

breathes—wandering sisters,

lingering dreams.


Days with names

Days with names pass so easily

as to be completely missed, brief swirls in streams

marked and forgotten in an inhale.

Some carrying implications true enough for our living,

a loose curve or a sharp one, rapids,

long smooth stretches of quiet—you know

Mondays are not Wednesdays, nor are they Thursday;

Saturdays and Sundays, a category all their own.

But as we’ve seen, as all has changed,

the arcs and turns of time have their own way.

The days I have in mind have real names,

taken of themselves--unforgettable.

Like that day in Jersey, in fall

we buried my dad--that crisp sky, the distant blue

touch of sun. The snow outside the window

the evening my mother left.

And the morning in the darkened hospital hallway,

the nurse extending to me our first born.

And that day in Hawaii, soon after we met you wore

that loose fitting shift, green pin stripes on white.

That day. And so many more.


Children’s voices,

up from the neighbor’s yard.



As the sun drops behind the mountain,

shadows race with twilight

to see which will carry longest

playing children’s voices.


prayer and praise

--spontaneous breath-play


I know nothing of the formal structure of psalms,

but believe I might tell them by their music,

the same, if not mistaken, that flowers sing to sun rise

on the quickened breath of earth’s return to light.


So why not just ride

the light-glittering stream

as what it so easily carries?


The point is joy

and joy deliverance

and the song understood

in the singing…


Though the chill has eased,

the furnace wakes at daybreak

to soft tapping rains.


so quiet the earth

in hours dark leaves

light returns so seamless

notes can neither touch

nor tell, so traceless

the earth in its way

and yet, and still

it is here

we have our place


Checking my own pulse

—how redundant!


Jane Imamura

Her words of the camps,

laced with love, pain strung through

with love of Buddha’s love,

page by page, pulse by pulse

in pulse.



The Wife

Neither difficult, nor easy, she said,

“it’s the way we live.”


Considering the unconsidered

The body knows, always knows and does its all

without prompt, within conditions given

Sending signals of every encounter, ever,

to all concerned

The body knows, as does earth and air and all else

--the restless foot reaching

Meets waiting earth’s harmonies heard

by everyone, then handed to habit

As so for air and lungs, heart and blood,

light and the eyes and the ears and all that whispers

All this, the stuff and sustenance of the mind

that finds itself there

All this work, all this play

for who?


Routine cataract surgery and a detached retina

How smug I was

in those corporate years,

so clear the entitled sense

of the young.

But for the ancients, far senior

to this one, clouds need only be illumined,

not removed, and the real fool

revealed here, not there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This soundless morning

This soundless morning,

mid-month, November’s

clear-bright days

call the furnace to life,

wood-smoke whiffs to the sky,

and as our bodies adjust

to the change of clocks,

birds wake and fly

with the light

—this soundless morning.


in service of song…

chill crinkles the morning air

like water speaking of ice

a pitch beyond the reach of sound

yet not of that of heart-mind

and so we who are called to song

are turned as such

in the posture of service


For Eiko

Let’s chant, she says,

then go home.

We do.


Certain prayers remembered

Books hold to the shelves, the shelves

in place with the weight of what’s held—no ideas

but in things, it’s been said, as fingers

trace the page aside the words inscribed,

fleeting moments of sound-meaning, so concrete

as to belie both flash and forgetfulness,

always returning

with light.

Every morning, awakening,

things returning the lighted day, lighting the day

anew, the world made new,

returning reawakened.

He thanks this light, his life, the poet, with words,

the weight of the passing now,

whispers on the breath of gladness,

wrinkles about the eyes.


Approaching Buckeye Canyon…

San Bruno Mountain’s

crows, sun-lit pines,

hawks circle shaded slopes

of crystal-toothed sandstone

opened wide

with ancient song...



in shadowed branches

against the blue


Only Buddha remembers

Sitting in fading light,

recollections like so many leaves.

Once forgotten seasons

do not return, but for Mind.

My teachers

having given everything,

even permission to neglect

the little I’ve held.

And the hours pass.


First companion, best friend.

Without her purposefulness,

what might be said

of this life?


At play in fields of light and shadow,

the acacia receives and reveals

the manifold mysteries of language,

the play of the silence and sound

of the human heart-mind.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Has Fall Arrived?

After the rain,

the patter

of children’s voices


I revise more now than before,

on the spot and after the fact

adjustments, little ones

keep things aright

on course

as best as I can

for now.


Across open pastures

above bluffs

crashing breakers




In the rented cottage

the turned page crinkles

echoes of itself

the refrigerator hums

the room

dull pencils rub


and a settled heart

keeps prefect



the writing,

replete with lessons

for the poet


out of the dark

a train

a history


Words are the stuff of human horizons

and like all else can be used

as common currency

or to build.

It’s not a matter of which ones,

but how we meet them

--shallow currents carry traces

of the deeper--

it’s all in the way we hear.


Misguided, we wonder what to do,

yet how to be

suggests the peace we seek.


late summer

open widow

childhood memories


Scratching at the window,

a Jay in the flowerbox—

up and gone!


Mappo: a Buddhist term, suggestive of a time when gifts

that sustain are barely recognized.

Poetically, it might point to the voice that can only hear itself

and never once considers

from where its words, or its capacity for speech, come.

Street lamps cast shadows

in early morning, throughout

evening time, and late

into the night—is there need

at all for moon light?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Summer poems

For Paul

Hiking the Oakland hills

behind the grown son

--strong back and shoulders

the smell of dust

the high reach of redwoods

and the slow turn of greying skies--

breathing together

evening’s muted silence


As if the thread…

The end of August, September,

summer’s last burn to autumn

and the long reach to winter sleep

before spring dreams.

It’s the writing, the gathering of words

poems offer,

the sorting, shifting and listening,

the breathing and the watching

for that certain readiness and release,

as if poems were the thread…


Some things, are just left.

The rest, no matter the weight,

never a burden.


To be here, with this

in the hours before day break,

star light falling

in northern skies

in the stillness of meadows

under towering peaks

colored with night

in the mystery

of disappearing stars,

the returning lake

carrying sky-lit mountains

and silently feeding ducks,

the myriad questions

tracing the unseeable working

rising the darkened depths

to the surface

to be taken whole and relished.


Though the window might be better cleaned,

the the light moves smoothly down the morning sky

to the ridge tops

and across the many-housed slopes,

quietly, clearly,

announcing its return.


9/20/2010 and counting down,

or is it up?

With a birthday on the near horizon

taking me closer yet… to zero,

what can numbers really tell and about what end

can any direction ever advise?

But the poem, yes, maybe only the poem speaks

to how I am now

with the world at large.



In our eyes, the moon

Silver slivered light in the blackened sky,

premonition of certainty

Rising tides

within our very own hearts


So certain

the summer scents,

thick on morning air,

the mist hovering distant bay waters,

the salmon skies.

So certain, this urge

to make it somehow more


in the face

of the all-embracing silence

of the open page--

so certain a measure

of the true pitch of every voice,

I cannot but bow.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Notes from North Yosemite

Along the trail to Laurel Lake


with the back pack

leaned against a tree

in a shadowed stand of pines

beside a mountain meadow

filled with wild flowers

and fern.

We’ve bitten off a real challenge this time.

Wind rushes the needled limbs

and looses a dead cone that falls

from a lifeless top

to a thud

and burst of sun-lit dust

that glows

in its slow return

to the earth.

Between here and there

an orange and black butterfly


across the trail.


Below Vernon Lake

We camp just off Falls Creek

in a slight semi-circle of small ponderosa pines

and a single western juniper, surrounded by miles

of scrape and moraine

--high sierra granite--

all of us held to this rock

by the same pull, each of us

giving all we have

to be here.

The steep ascent

and ten rugged miles

keeps the lake’s numbers of visitors low

but this trail-less stretch of stream demands more

and sees few beyond its long-time residents

--bear, rattler, rainbow trout.

Followed down stream,

its cuts and crevices, falls and bowls, gorges and pools,

the work of hundreds of years, thousands,

all still underway.

There’s intimacy here,

borne by the water, the light and the air,

a shared bond with the granite

that carries a message of passage,

of acceptance through participation

in a larger work

that reveals

a glistening streak of grace

in responsibility,

that speaks not of obligation,

but of responsiveness

and of care.


On any mountain

at some point,

no matter the company,

it all comes down to you

on the mountain,

on its terms.

Oh, I do not climb, just walk,

but even then, over and again, I arrive at that place

of listening--me listening

to my response

to the mountain’s entreaty--

without words,

through an inconceivable, yet somehow completely received

multitude of signals,

a totality of unmistakable, and yes, unavoidable


that both overwhelms and embraces,

completely diminishes

and simultaneously offers

horizon-less possibilities

of unspeakable


To respond repeatedly to the repeated call, these,

the movements of love,

where those who demur

may clearly articulate their many doubts,

but those of us who respond, cannot

adequately explain, except,

perhaps to point.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Recalling Nancy Tilden, Teacher…

and the certainty in the light in her eyes

of permissions

to sing

in the light in her eyes come from so deep

no room was left for breath

other than that—

for the beauty of the branch to last

those eyes said it’s the roots

that reach the source

that sustains true song


In Japan once, along the China Sea,

looking out at the shadow of Sado Island,

as so many others have done,

poets and brothers and teachers,

I looked out and felt that chasm

of exile, that distance of singular decision

and the empathy that traverses that misted vision

that connects

all the world over

such solitary shores.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mountain poems, July 2010

After a sleepless night

at Islands Lake in Desolation Wilderness,

the near-full moon goes down

around four-thirty

leaving the sky to the stars

before the slow turn of light

calls the lake

from the dark, and the fish

for that careful

touch of lips


The sun runs luminous

through the highest puffs of clouds

but leaves the lower to float,

faceless shadows

passing over surrounding peaks

whose west facing slopes

remain still, untouched and cooled.

Standing at the edge of the lake too,

I think to chant,

but demur—what have I to add

to all of this?

Then, encouraged by the flutter of wings

from flowered brush to either side,

in lowered tones I speak

the Buddha’s name,

and watch the wind drop to the water

in whispered silver ripples

that spread to the shore

beneath my feet,

quietly lapping light.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Receiving Refuge

To take refuge is to play

in the quiet of the 10,000 things.

Among the falling raindrops,

small, white-crested birds, fly!

Jerry Bolick, July 2, 2010

Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

In his book, Zen Wave, a study of haiku poet, Basho, Robert Aitken Roshi writes: “NamuAmidaButsu…is the cord that will draw the dying person to ease of heart.” I like the image he presents here, particularly the phrase ease of heart, because it emphasizes the assurance given in traditional Pure Land teachings, assurance of the future, assurance of lasting peace after death, but does so with a telling image of movement in the present.

We are assured that the future holds the transition from human life into the embrace of the eternal, from turmoil into lasting peace, which is to say, we are assured that it will all be OK, then.

But these teachings are not just about death, but also about life. Assurance is something we experience here and now. The NamuAmidaButsu that is pulling us to ease of heart is pulling us now. Given to us by Buddha, by eternal, timeless reality, NamuAmidaButsu emerges into time on our lips; on our lips, the movement of the eternal, continually assuring us, continually drawing us closer to fuller realization, in the present moment.

And neither is the unburdened heart restricted to those on their deathbed, because as living beings, we are all, by definition, dying. When I see clearly that I am, not that I will be, but that I am the dying person, then I see Buddha’s message is directed to me, Buddha’s assurances are for my benefit. Then I begin to hear the teaching in a different way.

Within the life of NamuAmidaButsu, the anxieties we experience due to the myriad changes that occur as we live and age, the fears, small and large, of what the future holds, our resistance to the inevitable, all become infused with the assuring movement of eternal care and concern, extended to us in and through NamuAmidaButsu. And in this we can know the ease of heart that is the content of our liberation and the certainty of eternal refuge—it will be OK then, and it is all OK now.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

These last few days, in June...

Praying with open eyes…

the shaman, taking everything in, anything

left out, the diminishment

of sacredness—

or the roshi who meditates because

he doesn’t want to miss


or the poet’s singular motivation

to clarity,

words as true as bird song—


Humid air’s a stranger here,

an unexpected skin

no one’s able to name.


Through screened windows,

morning’s stillness,

marked by dove calls.

Downstairs, the tenant

moves around the kitchen.


Early evening fog gathers along the ridge line,

cooled drifts pushing

toward newly opened windows.

Friday, April 30, 2010

looking toward the coming weeks

These quiet hours, the first

in the days of this season long in light,

broken only by the occasional cloud,

accompanied always in bird song,

softest undulations rising and receding

within that most intimate presence

we know so clearly

as silence.

These, the quiet hours.


Decent registers of concern come in colors

both varied and unexpected, beauteous unfolding

of life likened to itself, in kind, in shape and inclination

to recognize patterns of sameness

for what they are:

opportunity to converse.

Would that we would

more readily see our dissimilarities

as such.


The days begin now to play

toward gravity,

approaching a departure of consequence,

measured moments add to the scale

weightless layers of freely given intent.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oxalis, free ranging spring poems...

Over and again,

pressed and trampled grasses

pulled back into the sun.


This body, healthy

in old age, complaints passing

like yesterday’s gas.


true haiku, others

may do—I enjoy the pose,

absent any real work


I tire quickly these days,

of formalities

with no obvious center.

Friends inquire, but all I can do

is point to the cloudless sky.


The make-shift altar

in the dining hall, they strain

to follow this hakujin,

chanting ancient sounds of joy.


Three red cabbages

from winter’s garden; give one

away, one we keep

and the last, too loose,

we add to spring’s efforts.


Sounds of spinning wash

from behind the garage door

—morning clouds gather.


Heron’s Point, Bear Dance

April 17th

Gulls and geese clearing the sky

of the last of daylight,

raise a collective call to witness

the silence of coming stars

and the waiting drums.


This spring afternoon danced

with hailstones,

lingering recollections

of winter

demanding one last look.


Borrowing sun tones

from an early sky, the bay

whispers salmon-pink.


Light bounces from feet

unrestrained by gravity

—girl cousin-grand daughters.


Morning pours blue light,

horizons humming rain free,

full breathed songs of spring.


The sun casts light to east facing slopes

cast light through west facing windows

throwing shadows of flowers

on the wall

above the stove.


It’s not that each word is pearl pure,

but the source

behind the impetus

is just that.

Prayer resides here,

in the quiet sweep of attention

before words.

Monday, April 12, 2010

March Meditations

The secret life of nembutsu

The plane’s television monitor tells us

we’re passing over northern Canada, toward Calgary,

while outside, below, the white sheet stretches

well beyond what any eye might imagine,

what any words might clearly say.

Buddha’s teaching of nembutsu, the mindfulness

of utterance,

is like this too: no need at all to add anything

—saying itself, deep and whole

in and through the silent expanse of the heart—

only listening will do




What do poets do?

Light struggles through tangled shadows.

In waiting branches, dark acacia leaves chill,

still to the windless morning’s entreaty to the new spring

come quietly between grey rain days

that leave the last of that which only they can bring.

Cold Mountain, the poet-monk, tells us

similar scenes appear over and again;

it’s what we do with them

that differs.


Certain mysteries

Clear blue, the Saturday sky lifts

from the crisp green hills,

arching invisibly over the roof top,

waiting, watching,

a lingering presence supposed, but not known,

not seen;

perhaps then, lifting

simply lifting…


End March

The day unfolds utterly absent uncertainty, each morsel

of air-buoyed water running its inevitable course, specific

to conditions within the collective spread called clouds

that span a breadth of hilltop some three miles in length.

I sit watching this, faltering in a mind a’swirl with ambiguity

at what the weather might bring, what that might mean,

while the day simply continues its quiet way, delivering all

it has to give.

In search of those still practicing, Bill Porter,

once known as Red Pine, roamed near-empty crevices

of modern China, and reports:

every adept he met followed some regimen

of chanting and meditation, morning and evening--our practice,

our teachers say, brings us to nembutsu, song, twice a day,

the straightforward gathering of body sound and sense,

turned in the direction of full completion

of living gratitude.


Best friends

Placed in a small black vase

in the corner on the alter

below the framed scroll,

flowers with white petals

and yellow centers

call into the chill and dim light…

Hearing this implies

a world alive,

the resonant pulse of wholeness

linked and woven,

the tiniest thread

a call of fully extending family,

a world of best friends…

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bunch Grasses

Bunch Grasses

Scattered poems and recollections

of La Paz, Mexico, 2009

The inscription reads:

And if you want peace,

I offer it to you

in the sunny peace of my bay.

night’s clouds break,

spilling swells of light

toward the shore.


Evening’s pink


a solitary palm.



alone at the desk,

waiting for the dark side of the moon

to shift and rise too,

out from itself.


Asked his way,

the poet replies: I’ve nothing to offer

but what’s next,

and I’m not yet there.


From Oppen’s prose and daybooks,

a poetics of no-poetics:

This will not summarize.

This will guide

without demand.


Sunday, along the darkened Malaccan, along the water,

well-mannered walkers whisper early morning greetings;

but for the slow turn of the earth,

this the only breeze.


For George Oppen

Some teachers stand out, as such, and the world is not the same

but for them; but for them, the world and all it is speaks, each thing

of its own voice and shape, and the ear, and the heart by way of the ear, hear

and recognize and know.


The pages of the journal take the ink as given,

swirls or broken lines, tears of joy or deeper sadnesses

laid neatly out or helter-skelter, the pages take all

that comes, as it comes—ever full;

ever full and enough, at any last lift of the pen,

or before the very first push, the pages,

ever in all their fullness.


Each morning,

a rooster--scattering

clustered silences.


Under my bared feet, tiles blink

—streetlights off,

the morning sky has its way.



we sit, read and write

into late afternoon--Ana Karina,

one of her favorites, on TV, Spanish sub-titles.


at the airport, a mural

in muted oranges and yellows, a pastoral

suspended above the continuous rush

of barely controlled frenzy—we arrive in time

to wait to leave


Praxis, the Great Practice

Writing the poem, writes the poem.

Saying Buddha’s name, says the name.

The work itself teaches us

where we will next go.

Doing is trusting. Trust is everything.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Recent Mornings

early color

wild mustard sprinkles green-hued yellow

on hillsides

under a sun stunned speechless

in a wintered sky…

on the arm of the brown

leathered chair, an aqua cup,

congealed instant coffee

on the outer lip…


The deep pull and draw

of the center to itself—

rain drops and incense.


The acacia waits,

holding energies inward,

listening for spring.


I didn’t know Cid Corman

but his lines carry a voice still

discernable—rain falls, I hear its drops

1958, in a Kyoto garden


Under early lit skies,

walking shadowed streets

silently listening

to pink streaked whispers

pass by.


Not knowing the signal,

I watch breezes push past

each branch

and be gone—so much grace

so early in a day.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Letters and poems--early 2010

February 3, 2010

A Letter to my Niece,

first written in the journal you gave to me, so thoughtfully inscribed, leather bound, easily hand held, about which, if asked, I’d have said that I prefer larger pages, except that this one reminds me of you each time I write, and its too small pages seem to push poems from my pen that might not have otherwise come of it—and at least one letter that might not have been written.

I want to tell you, because I believe you’ll understand, that the writing, the poetry, has become bigger and bigger for me in recent years, not so much as to replace my religious life, nor, as I once thought, to challenge it, as such; rather, I have come to understand it as the core of it all, as my primary practice, principal manner of worship and praise, and so have found it helpful from time to time to be around other writing poets—this being the major change—in order to listen, as most recently, a day ago, to the newly inaugurated Poet Laureate of San Francisco, Diane di Prima, who says that the spiritual dimension of writing lies in its isolation.

I’d just stepped back into the room and caught her comments like fragmented sparks that illumined a centered fullness I’d previously been unable to see, and I take this to mean that there, at the desk, solitary, in the chair or on the couch, there, over the pen and empty page, I am alone with my self, in my self, in its unadorned solitariness, the foundational condition of all humanity—indeed, of all existences; we, each of us, are alone and in this common aloneness are intimately connected with each other; all others and me, connected in the blessed paradox of being fully alone, the recognition of this being the spontaneous banishment of loneliness, the restricted, the crippling, a quiet liberation, experienced similarly in the solitary breathing of meditation, in the singular voice sounding the Buddha’s name, and, I would suppose, in that solitary house of prayer, the human heart and mind, ever opening within the ever present possibility of true and real communication, as Ms di Prima whispered, words resonant with integrity, given with the wish that they be helpful.

Realizing our primal aloneness is not only OK, it is the liberating awareness of our inextricable reliance upon and responsibility for all other beings. This, in the writing. This the sustaining influence of the truth of the matter of our singular and collective humanity, our living and dying, both alone and together. I find myself here, resting in the quiet center of the unending vitality of wonder and gratitude.

What a joy, my young Niece.

My love,


Why Now ?

Just as day breaks the edge of night,

we walk through wet grasses, into the hills

overlooking the valley and toward open bay waters,

once contiguous marshlands, vital and giving of life,

then given over to fill and then to a park,

landscaped contemporary industrial.

Last night’s rains run normally dry creek beds full

into culverts now, secreted along their way under the town

no longer cognizant of these ancient voices,

nor the rich conversations of sweet meeting brine

that filled for myriad generations the silence

at the feet of these slopes.

But hints of this music can yet be heard

if you venture to the trails above the canyons

on days like today—on days like today, indeed,

if you go there.

In these times…a poem

Startling behavior for weather

in these parts. Thunder and lightening

at any time of year is a surprise here,

almost unheard of in winter.

Moreover, in recent drought years, where

normal has become consistently deficient,

long-term considerations teeter mostly over a chasm of doubt.

Even so the notion itself, long-term, seems estranged these days,

quick returns being the preferred currency.

As much as anyone, I appreciate the sparkle and clarity,

the cleansing function of shallow running streams, but absent the return

to deeper currents, shallow runs simply dry up.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

From the year last past...

From the year last passed, poems,

from late July, on

Meeting at Bird’s and Beckett

Like cousins, almost,

the pulse and blood of words

binds us, drives so similar

as to link us as kin,

beyond tongue or skin,

real apparitions,

mind breath’s music

carried to sound.


Bathed in the passage of light,

a growing body, actually

a growing body of work.


Behold the deepening treasure store of quickened richness,

receding limitations’ collective collapsing horizons of self, into self-sustaining clouds

of endless generosities and genuine gestures of welcome,

so readily, so graciously, received

that songs of praise

carry the only possibility of appropriate response.


In Jack Kerouac Alley, at the International Festival of Poets, 2009,

I heard

that Jack Spicer said

at the gates of Babylon, God divides

Man and Words--

Words, He calls Angels

and I saw

from within the shifting shadows

freshly hung laundry flapping sunlight into the sky above

the sounds of the many tongued yet singular song

of love

and I knew

beyond uncertainty

the unbounded community

of undeniable renewal

of the human voice


Reflections on this life…

I remember, well yes, maybe as a dream, but I do remember the turmoil

and confusion seeming endless, but was not,

for the depths carry a calm of their own, as does time, that too has a way

its own, and so I have lived to learn to sing, to praise

the ever shifting depths, and that which comes of that.

And so these days, I think myself a poet, yet

for years and upon reflection, for most of the most ordinary of days,

the face of their most common rhythms remain still unspoken,

this silence suggesting, for the poet presumed,

a most purposeful puzzle.


I certainly didn’t care how old you were then

and careful consideration tells me it’s not a concern now.

As it always was and continues to be, it is about our time,

your skin, your touch.


There is the softest whisper of rain on this morning’s air.

Street lights dim, to better hear; pine needles cease their breathing;

leaves swell and shudder to silence; and shadows wait;

each confident in its hard earned wisdom, each thing in its own way,

in its own time.


A haiku life…

Seventeen distinct

drops of sound, blown past the lips

and into the world.

Of fathers and sons…

I’d have said you were gone,

but for those brief glimpses of you, there

in the smile, around the eyes—you there

in the grand son you never knew.

Fully grown now, with your own to care for,

we stand in the shade of ancient trees, speaking of poets

and students and what length makes a line and we agree

to never agree that real work is work at all,

or that, really, we would ever want it to be done.


Making music with our voices,

beauty with our words,

makes peace of places

without walls.


Fog pressed air, so thick with silence,

morning bird calls must feel their way,

ear by ear…


The poet presupposes words,

says the priest, breathing, lifting the pen.

But language presupposed

does not imply words planned.

Wondering, he breathes, lifts the pen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Reclaiming Weeds, by Layman Gunmo

Reclaiming weeds and grasses

The leather chair creaks, a certain settled folding that only leather will do, a kind of living response, anticipated at the periphery, accepted with a sigh of the familiar delivered, like skin to skin.

Familiar too, this spacious feeling, followed so quickly with the inclination to fill it, latent dis-ease just lying in wait —once the many numbered lists are complete, what must one do?

Left to the open air, seeds sail the unseen ocean of universal sustenance, until settled by circumstance to begin their real work as seeds—reach into the earth, return to the light--all energies and effort ever-extending toward individual fruition, individual realization always the most significant return for the common whole: seeds lifting on the open air.

Weeds and grasses are profoundly prolific, most common and unstoppable, every circumstance an opportunity, cultivation a help or a hazard, dependent upon the discerning eye—one person’s grass, the other’s weed—to pull or not, a matter of time and circumstance, the only must the careful consideration of the inherent righteousness at hand, the beauty in the face of the real work.

Jerry Bolick, aka Layman Gunmo