Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The new year--moving in


That glimmer of sunlight

in the distant window

to the west signaling

the coming of the sun

into the first-sent light

clearing shadows under

already clear blue skies.

Words occurring in relation,

things voiced and sounded and

joined therein—event—thoughtfeelings

revealing unfolding particularity celebrated,


Love—the urge to share

the heart-mind’s peace—poem.

*gleaned from the work of poet Cid Corman


We sit together in late December, watching light

slowly cover the hills to the west, awakened

in the time of giving

to the gift not recognized

till turmoil settles like the dew-like light

of this morning’s wintered sun.

Burdenless, the sustenance of this life’s blood

makes the world larger in its presence,

glimmer with irreversible trends

turned to vows that live in the very flow

we carry that liberates

endless streams of beings,

comforts passions,

teaches all that need be learned

to quiet the excited heart

to gladness.


And in the evening, the staccato return

of studied practice and focused effort gives way

to ease the full-throated song.

The self, a story of itself, need not be tamed

but the plot let to broaden beyond its borders—let the self be

to spin its tale

and let the real play begin.


As if the mind’s breath swoons

in the swiftness of unlimited possibility

to forget itself long enough to see

it survives without holding on.


We give ourselves into Buddha’s teaching

through those who have gone before,

returning that way

to the bedrock of all existences.


I’ve not been able to figure if fog has pushed out the night

or the morning in. But here we are.

The same might be said for religious practices

or for the words we live in, if indeed there’s a difference.

Whomever presumes too much specificity here,

loses credibility in these eyes, though trends might be revealed.

Such as effort. Not some hard goal, simply

honest engagement, really doing it.

“Real work,” we might say, movement meaningful

in the doing--meaning doing us.

Rumi’s teacher asked for a poem every day, which they

then studied—his words-life-understanding.

Each day “marked and made conscious.”

Attentions given, explored as is.

Have you ever noticed the silence that follows heartfelt chanting,

any undertaking done fully through,

body and mind unfolded of itself into rest?


From behind the stained glass, night sky

pushes colors forward, lamp light reflected,

at times careened in unseen angles

or sometimes held flat, lit as if found out

as opaque, yet refusing to speak of it—like rock

often does, taking all the sun has to offer,

hour after hour, without flinching,

without asking either less or more,

neither comfort nor praise.

Words begin to lose their grip here,

are best abandoned to open-handed intention,

to bared attention—everything before having led here,

nothing lost, all possibilities remain.


Certain inclinations, patterns over time,

define unique fluctuations

in the consciousness of our world.

The yellow rose from winter’s garden,

when leaves are to have fallen

to mark the time to prune.

A pink blossom too, on the altar,

a communal sensibility speaking soundlessly

below the scrolled calligraphy

the trusting heart.


The way friends along the way

help you through the rough spots

so that you return whole.


All endings speak forward.


The Mound in Buckeye Canyon

The coffee is cold, but the thermos’ place in the pack, warm—just my intent

for this wintered mound, as the company is quite good.

Some 5,000 years deep in ancestry. Conversation is easy, but neither distracted

nor light. Better begun with prayer, song perhaps,

and that unstudied pause and collection that allows words to rise from the body

at rest with place and with time,

with all presences thus given their due.

From deep listening, such as this, right future can unfold

and be affirmed, right here.


A Gatha

Each morning I step

from the pole’s top to

a foot’s touch and think

I am not falling.

Foolishness like this

abounds where I live,

a most excellent place

to meet the Buddha.

My practice, sloppy,

sporadic, aimless,

I try to follow

only what’s given.

Resorting to trust

where I’ve really none,

I seek guidance that’s

not ever followed,

take refuge with those

who think like me, walk

an endless night, marked

with dim, distant lights.

Receiving unearned

favors and comforts,

offered to someone

not me, I take them.

There is no justice

in this, only gift—

humility too,

gratitude and joy.


So what’s left to do

but what needs doing,

as best I can, for

all who may need it.



Too short, a night run through with too long a stream of thoughts,

though certain epiphanies nonetheless, though none of which seeming

to carry much weight with the pen, nor influence

with the blank face of the page.

Disconnect is not real, but the sense and the feel, even so slight,

is not to be denied, however so slight the blinded flight,

the empty bottomed flush of fear, of isolation,

of meaning forgotten.

Yet, and again, doing’s being and meaning somehow carries

in this—the push of the pen to scratching, marks the dust of separation

with remembrance of the fullness of silence,

where dissolution of disconnection illumines

the immeasurable and the unmistakable.


There is the grey morning’s cold to contend with,

the constant start and thrum of the furnace and the sun’s long refusal

to touch distant windows to begin the day,

even as I wait without spoken complaint.

In the greater stillness winter brings, patience is its own test.

Butterflies in the making, just below the stiffened grass,

deep-seated roots at work in their own service, and the earth

preparing its surface for the rains to run first,

before the deeper work to come--reminded

in the quieted draw and release of breath, my body settles.

Still is not dormant.


Many things come to us in the night to affirm,

to allow doubt’s release ease to untroubled rest,

like rain, with its softest steps, that we hear first

as if we do not, then do, knowing it’s rain

only when we know our hearing,

as if rain comes a lightest possible presence

to wake us to our own, to that most safe harbor,

that surest awakening self as other.


A story

Stars are there to assure us night is good.

Moon too. They hold light till morning so that we might rest.

The night, the stars and the moon,

all for us, for all creatures

needing sleep.


Two small terracotta birds perch on the railing on the deck outside the window

directly opposite of where I sit,

shift their wings and lift their feet, and do so again and then again,

and each time I start and pause, then see the cup

lifted to the lips, each time a signal, a sign passed through glass invisible

but for this mirrored intersection of recognition

that brings into question lingering presumptions of difference.


Felt tipped pens glide like silk without the whisper,

but leave blemishes backside the page, excesses of ease

scattered here and there—for me, this does not do.

Ballpoint, a pencil, better for the effort.

Even the slightest pull speaks to work heard, words working

tangles of confusion toward the light.

Living leaving tracks,

signs, crevices signaling where its been,

where it’s thinking of going.

Uncovered interludes

I’m told I use quiet words

but wonder, really, which those are

the world itself presents itself

as such so often, how else can one respond

the wave’s reach that seeps the sands,

the spray that’s given to air…

of these, as among the many blessings,

not one is loud.


That which turns me toward peace,

is my own rage

and the threat that speaks to.


Winter’s come, leaves turned and now

fall through mornings clean with the constant chill

of shortened days, the quickened pulse,

the reach for fullness enough to live,

just to live, just enough.



the name

held close in the heart

whose public face

is kindness.


The angle just so

catches the light underside

burn—a Robin’s breast.

Glimmering there

beneath nonviolence—

no harm.


How we hear

Just above the horizon,

under hovering clouds, a thin break

of clarity

the push of light pours

salmon-gold across the watery face

of the bay

draws me still, standing in the street,

waiting, a word, a name perhaps,

a voice surely

working its shadow-less way

through the certainties

of breath shared

of numberless becomings,

of the myriad possible tongues recognized

in the quickening

of the heart.


The Sufi

After the whirling,

the young teacher,

long-time friend to our guide,

answers our questions,

while the Master,

also now in street dress,

quietly serves tea.


Pressing to Harran, we skirt the northern border of Syria

at the Temple of the Moon God, pre-Islamic cult

of ancient astronomers overlooking

the high, fertile plains of Mesopotamia.

They, as do we, built gates, entryways

where none was needed—how much has changed,

how much not?


Call to prayer fills the room,

followed by light, by the sun’s warmth

that flows through every window opened,

to every opening heart.



Gianzatep, Turkey,

one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities

in the world.

Allah has ninety-nine names. Amida Buddha, the sutras give ten.

For those who still count.

In either case, in any event

what matters, is the name in the mouth

that’s speaking it.

All else follows.