Wednesday, June 8, 2011

While moving...

Memorial Day…

flags flap

the languid currents

of an empty breeze

and the count continues


Although it is where we live,

we are not our thoughts.

Think about it.


Across the distance,

streaks of white.

Green hills and pigeons



Awareness of the first

comes with the falling of the second,

to the floor of my heart.

With the sharp shock of recognition

of denial—all that presents itself

presents the way.


We slip into the airport without a hitch,

only to find our flight delayed--

the cheek-to-cheek dance

of successive connections

bringing us face-to-face

with patience.



Recalling, along the canal

this morning, the rising tide

of Buddha’s name

pushing past my lips.


We are our response

to the world.

Up close and personal,

always we.


Jet-lag overtakes us

as Amsterdam takes us in,

hovering, just outside

closed curtains, glistening

about the edges.


The sun multiplied by bees equals honey.

Joseph Stroud

Perception cleared is Wisdom,

the pure feeling of living appreciation,

the world in us, we in it, and it of itself

one continuous moment in movement…


These days the canals are murky,

but along with time

carry the beauty of human purpose

--determined serenity

for the morning walker

and the sky revealing its plan

to anyone happening



Of canals, and of water

The city begins

in a single circle, and

like a stone in a pond,

says our guide,

expands in sweeps of liquid ingenuity.


Morning gulls glide

the empty quiet

drunken young men

seem intent to fill.


I’ve walked this stretch of canal before,

but not like this, after night rains,

the calmed surface collecting light

from the cloud-broken sky

to hold the shining faces

of surrounding buildings

that peer

over its edge.


Holland is in the Netherlands

From the downside slope of the dike,

we listen to the waters of the River Lek

flowing above our heads.


The Church of the Beguinage, Brugge

Originally widows of the Crusades, the Beguinage gathered in small, walled communities

to live in silent devotion. Neither taking vows, nor joining orders, they made good, simply, their intentions to create cities of peace, islands of inclusive kindness

within the greater ocean.

The hushed center compound is shaded by tall, high-crowned trees that watch over

the chapel and its almost invisible, white-clad Benedictines. Any who would come

in silence, are received in silence. A place of warmth that spreads throughout the limbs,

a place made to be so.



And the world is not such a strange place

after all, light begets light, warmth absorbs cold

and leaves of every color fall

in their time.

The important work is to befriend the mystery,

for the distance perceived

is of our own making, our own



The city bustles with modern high-rises, business centers, ancient central squares

and narrow cobblestone streets, where statues of little boys pee

into fountains, for photo ops.

And Spring arrives full blaze, burning the skies into blue, as the sun

draws aside the chill, to lay down its work, without so much

as a wrinkle’s difference.


Brussels to Paris

Large with rivers, this land sings

all the varied songs of water,

and then some.

Joseph Stroud speaks of Earth as Language.

And answers, in a breath, the essential question

of poetry, of poets,

of all mankind.


And about you and me…

Forty-four years,

if counting, and if not

a life-time, and even then,

tonight in Paris.

May 19

Albert Saijo

For Albert Saijo 2/4/26-6/3/11

Learned today, June 6th, of Albert Saijo’s passing, today,

I recall as I write the number, my father’s birthday

—gone at 48, well over forty years ago—

and what I remember most now

is the beauty of the day

we buried him.

Out-right resistance was not an option for the son of a man

of his time and experience—a bond shared with most

of my boyhood friends—expectations were as hard

and fast as our fathers’ hands, neither of which

could be avoided, both of which

had long, long reach.

Sublimated resistance truncates and so carried and digested,

festered and reflected upon over time and over time


The city of Amsterdam, I’ve learned, began with a single canal,

a circle, like a stone in a pond.

Nanao Sakaki passed last year, earth wanderer, witness to the final planes

of the Pacific Theater, sometime poet whose intended reach

was the universe, once said a circle big enough to sit in

and to sing, is enough.

And now poet Albert Saijo, having encountered them both only within

the circles of their poems—not more than enough, but enough.

Saijo began in camps reserved for citizens of the wrong color, lived

later solitary years at the edge of an active volcano,

so as to not take up too much room,

saying, all we can do is something with our personal lives,

something “to take energy away

from the madness.”