the new daughter and grandson,
The lunch box is blue,
a sturdy cloth bag, hand grip
hung from thin fingers.
Rains blew cold throughout
the night. Muffins, juice and tea.
The furnace kicks in.
Like heart beats, these two.
When you’re close enough to hear,
you can feel the heat.
All this time…
The beard is white, the hair thin
and wisdom as untouchable as wind
dances where it will.
And amidst the swirl, words
arise to fall to the page, names to utter
Nonsense sounds of sutras, and of things,
meet in the slippery moment, settled
heart and mind,
the coalescing world
as it is.
The poem is not in
the book, Sam Hamill writes,
the poem is “in the self,”
is of the self become realized,
of the world
Not an object to be held, except
as on the breath,
the poem is a lived truth.
The old woman sits beside the passing traffic
selling cigarettes through windows
opened at the stop light.
She counts a wad of bills, weighs change
with knowing fingers,
in the iron heat of afternoon.
Each window gets a squinted glance,
receives its due.
doesn’t make itself,
it’s the push
of depths at the source
and the pull
of unknown destinations
the flow rejoined…
Not one thing the world presents is unworthy
of our attention, nor separate from
Basho suggests one last thing left to learn,
simply, “accept the kindnesses
The poem is in the self.
The words just run at times,
slip to the page, looking
a lot like poems might.
But to come to hear Hamill,
recalls for me Ryokan,
who wrote, not “poems,” but
his mind, his heart-mind, his self
as it danced and ran with the world,
as does the poem.
The sun drops below the horizon here
well before five, shadows quit, light shifts
to grey cool, a quiet pause,
then headlong rush to winter’s long nights
that leave me numbed, wounded
for lack of light.
“Seasonal depression,” the doctors call it,
the body-mind complex struggles
with too little light—unacceptable,
it responds with lingering sluggishness,
calling over and again for more rest, until
I remember, and speak its name.
Like this evening, the barest show of pink
above the darkening ridge.
Street lights sparkle to life in the hills,
dark’s resting place before rising
to the waiting sky, stars
marking the slow drift of the heavens.
The human mind reaches for the unseeable
by way of words, imagination
moving into waiting meaning—articulation
revealing what cannot be known,
in order to learn what one wants