Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Poems 2011

Face to Face

There are certain silences, distinct.

The weighted air of descending fog

that floats luminous shadows under street lamps,

that covers empty sidewalks

like loneliness resolved, that warms

the singular sound of our own footsteps.

And that most intimate relation, most likely

ignored relation, where relation is

everything: death--the only face the mirror ever projects,

the push of reflection, the pull of creation, companion


death breathes the collective and the singular,

the vital sigh we call life,

extended to every, to each, to the fullest.

Our fears are unfounded, the whole is not fractured

but seen piecemeal, a pulsing relation

merely presumed severed. A rightly sensed presence

in the silence of a fully open gate.



Doves in the acacia

do not relent—darkness leaves,

light slips in, all at the call

of waiting wings.



Owl Canyon Lament

Noon and the hills are still in shadow,

season’s moistures quietly working

grounded sprouts skyward, to green.

The gurgling creek too, sustains,

but barely heard, under the heartfelt labors

of a distant woodpecker.

Were I half as attentive to the human hearts

all around, all at work,

what different face might all the world

then show?



That glow in the west, the sun,

in the same spot the falling moon

illumined morning’s breaking clouds.


thoughts of other lives surface

periodically; but then

I’ve not yet learned to live one


Careful listening suggests

nothing to fear,

no one to be saved.


For the grand daughters,


Eyes a’flame with allergies,

tears flow, the nose runs

and she sings

her way through dinner.


The warmth of the past few days

prompts the fruit tree to small white blossoms

and the grand daughter to shed her clothes.

Neither knows it’s still winter.

This young girl walks an earth

that always meets her feet. Eyes like light

in love, she seldom cries,

is never alone.


As dark settles, the moon turns its bottom just so

and lights the whole

night sky.


“Hard is it to be born into human life,

now we are living it.”

From the Shin Buddhist liturgy.

Report from the poets:

Buddha’s wish, as best I can tell--that we learn

to live fully, completely, and die

without doubt.

The American poet, ex-pat in Japan some forty plus years,

Cid Corman wrote, he had no need for belief because

he had no doubt.

This is not ego-speak but lack of ego speaking

from thoroughgoing trust in the movements of moments

as given, as fulsome, as complete.

“No doubt” leaves us right where we stand--Corman continues,

the critical issue, not who you are but THAT you are. Beginning

with this reveals the rest.

Every event reveals the fully possible, writes fellow ex-pat

poet Edith Shiffert, the critical question

--Can I see well enough from where I am

to step carefully over my own time

to trust in “my own” life-death

in the world’s time?

*Cid Corman, from letters to Louise Landes Levi, 1996 and ‘98

**from Shiffert’s poem, “Looking”

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